Idaho Transportation Department Collects Comments on Truck-Weight Issue

Dairy hauler
The three applications were filed by dairy haulers for the purpose of transporting milk. (New York Department of Agriculture and Markets)

[Stay on top of transportation news: Get TTNews in your inbox.]

The Idaho Transportation Department is accepting public comments on applications to allow trucks weighing up to 129,000 pounds to travel on segments of three routes.

All three segments are in Treasure Valley, the area of southwest Idaho that encompasses Boise. Specifically, the applications pertain to a stretch of state Route 19 between Idaho’s border with Oregon and Homedale, a portion of U.S. Route 20/26 between Interstate 84 and state Route16, and the Interstate 84 business loop near Nampa. The current weight allowed on these routes is 105,500 pounds, according to ITD spokesman Jake Melder.

The three applications were filed by dairy haulers for the purpose of transporting milk. According to the applications, increasing the weight limit to 129,000 pounds would reduce the number of trips annually from 431 trips to 365.

Idaho Excess Weight by Transport Topics

In a supplemental letter submitted to ITD, Bryce Bowman, Northwest Dairy Association senior manager, and Aaron Burton, Darigold leader of bulk milk hauling, said approval would result in lower emissions, reduced traffic and increased economic activity. A processing subsidiary of Northwest Dairy Association, Darigold represents dairy farmers across Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington.

“The dairy business never quits,” Bowman and Burton said in their letter. “Cows need to be milked 365 days a year, and that milk must be transported for processing. Transportation of the milk from the farm to the processing location is a key success factor in the overall viability of Darigold and [the Northwest Dairy Association]. Approval of our application will have a material impact on our business.”

Although these applications pertain specifically to dairy products, Melder said the area experiences a variety of freight movement. He said I-84, an east-west route that runs across southern Idaho like a belt, is an important arterial between coastal ports and “the rest of the heartland.” Also, he noted U.S. 95, a north-south route that winds up western Idaho, forms a connection to Canada. “The Treasure Valley sees every kind of good moved through it,” Melder said. “Regionally, the area has diverse industry, including agriculture, lumber, manufacturing and technology.”

The comment window on the applications will close Nov. 15. ITD has been approving 129,000-pound vehicle routes on a case-by-case since 2003, when the state Legislature passed a bill creating a pilot project to test the effects of increasing legal truck weights. The pilot project revealed no adverse impacts to the state highways and was officially adopted in 2016.

According to ITD, reduction in truck traffic as a result of the 129,000-pound program depends on the applicant, route, associated commodities and time of year. Agency estimates range from 12% to 20% in reduced truck traffic on approved 129,000-pound routes.

Truck configurations for 129,000-pound loads require more axles to spread the load out over a greater surface area.

“While the weight of loads is increasing, so too are the number of axles required by a vehicle combination,” Melder said. “The increased axles disperse the weight across a broader surface, reducing impact to the pavement. It also adds more brakes, which improves stopping distance.”

Want more news? Listen to today's daily briefing: