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July 22, 2009 8:20 AM, EDT

Illinois Adopts Uniform Law for 80,000-Pound Limit

Illinois has joined the 49 other states in adopting a uniform 80,000-pound truck weight limit law for state routes and other local roads.

The new weight law, however, will not take effect until Jan. 1. Passed by the legislature earlier this year as part of the state’s capital budget bill, the legislation was signed July 13 by Gov. Pat Quinn (D).

Currently in Illinois, municipalities can enforce the state’s existing weight limit of 73,280 pounds once trucks travel off interstate highways, where 80,000 pounds are allowed.

Under the terms of the new law, if a bridge cannot carry heavy loads, or if a road is subject to stress from freezing and thawing during wintertime, then local governments still may post weights lower than 80,000 pounds.

The uniform law, however, is a victory for state trucking leaders who have worked for years to win the 80,000-pound allowance.

“The industry always was going up against the local road officials,” said Don Schaefer, executive vice president of the Mid-West Truckers Association.
Schaefer said local government officials depended on the revenue generated by citations that were issued to truck drivers whose rigs weighed more than the statutory 73,280 pounds.

“The fact is that you can go anywhere in this country with an 80,000-pound load, just about, but once you get to Illinois there’s very few roads [for such heavy loads],” Schaefer said.

“If [truckers stay] on the interstates, they’re fine, but if they have to make deliveries in Illinois, it’s always been a cat-and-mouse game,” he said.

To get the new uniform weight bill, trucking interests in the state banded together this year to form the Illinois Trucking Industry Coalition.

Both the Mid-West Truckers Association and the Illinois Trucking Association are members of the coalition.