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February 1, 2017 5:00 PM, EST
Megaload Rule Change Finds Backing of Idaho Senate Transportation Committee
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The Idaho Transportation Department received legislative approval Jan. 31 for a rule change that lays the foundation for a statewide permitting system for oversize trucks.

The Senate Transportation Committee approved the proposal with minimal discussion Jan. 31. For a non-fee rule such as this, approval is only needed from one chamber; it will take effect at the conclusion of the legislative session.

Government affairs specialist Ramon Hobdey-Sanchez told the committee the rule change stems from legislation approved in 2016, which opened Idaho's interstate highway system to commercial truck loads weighing as much as 129,000 pounds.

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The legislation prompted a review of the transportation department's truck safety standards and permitting requirements, Hobdey-Sanchez said. The goal was to develop a standard set of rules for all commercial trucks on all roads, including local and state highways.

During the review, it was noted that only 25 to 30 of the 288 local highway jurisdictions in the state do any commercial vehicle permitting.

"That puts [the Idaho State Police] and other law enforcement at a disadvantage," Hobdey-Sanchez said. "They can't enforce rules because permits aren't needed on those local routes."

Under this new rule, he said, the transportation department will issue oversize permits for all commercial trucks weighing in excess of 80,000 pounds. It's an opt-in program, so jurisdictions that don't want to take part don't have to.

The rule change also doesn't take away local authority for designating which routes are open to 129,000-pound vehicle loads.

"For those that do want to participate in the statewide permitting system, they just need to notify the department," Hobdey-Sanchez said. "This rule lays the groundwork for building a statewide system like that."

No one spoke during the public hearing on the rule change.