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43 Table 4-4. Summary of impacts of harmonization of state truck size and weight rules. Type of Impact Metrics Impacts in Federal Uniformity Impacts in Western Scenario Uniformity Scenario (80,000 lbs max GVW) (129,000 lbs max GVW) Freight VMT by truck Significant decrease in VMT Significant shift of VMT from distribution by configuration traveled by doubles, triples, and single trailers to double- and type of truck 6-axle single trailers. Increase in triple-trailers VMT by 5-axle single trailers. Mode share Percentage Mode shift not analyzed Little or no shift from rail to truck Safety Crash rate Net impact is unclear: reduced Net impact is unclear: decrease involving trucks VMT by longer, heavier trucks in total truck VMT would likely per million truck would reduce crash severity and reduce number of accidents; but VMT; rate of fatal possibly number of accidents, but more VMT by longer, heavier truck crash per increase in total truck VMT would trucks would increase crash million truck VMT likely increase number of accidents severity and possibly number of accidents Fuel Gallons of diesel Higher due to increase in truck Lower due to decrease in truck consumption VMT VMT, but partially offset by reduced fuel economy of heavier trucks Air quality Tons of emissions Higher due to increase in fuel Lower due to decrease in fuel consumption consumption Traffic Vehicle-hours of Slight increase in number of Slight decrease in delay due to operations delay; cost of vehicle-hours of delay due to fewer truck VMT, but offset congestion increase in truck VMT somewhat by effect of longer, heavier trucks on traffic flow Shipper costs Dollars Higher due to increase in cost-per- Lower due to decrease in cost- ton-mile per-ton-mile Railroad Dollars Higher due to decreased Lower due to increased revenues competition from longer, heavier competition from longer, heavier trucks trucks Regarding the state variation, state legislatures adopted in a position to take up the slack. Some states may be able to laws permitting larger vehicles in the past, in part because of use a combination of tolls and private financing, but there is special characteristics of traffic moving within their states, often significant political resistance to these approaches to rais- such as mining operations and steel production. It is a rea- ing money. sonable surmise that state legislatures focused on operating conditions within their own boundaries and paid little atten- tion to potential effects on interstate operations. Congress has Policy Impacts been focused on the safety issue and made a deliberate deci- The impacts of policy decisions that result in underfund- sion to shut down the process by which individual states were ing of highway infrastructure include higher freight trans- permitting heavier and longer trucks and has shown no inter- portation costs due to worsening congestion, safety, and est in allowing more exceptions to bring about harmoniza- pavement condition. In the research team's interviews, con- tion in the western states. So it is likely that negative impacts dition of highway infrastructure did not surface as one of the were neither intended nor expected. But it is doubtful that first concerns of trucking firms. Large firms had fairly strong Congress or state legislatures would have acted differently negative views of new tolls (discussed below in the section on with more information or closer analysis of the consequences user charges) but acknowledged that new tolls for new capac- of varying size and weight limits among states. ity were acceptable, albeit with some reservations. The re- search team's discussions with truckers suggest that the in- Level of Investment dustry does not perceive capacity as a systemwide issue but, in Highway Infrastructure rather, as a matter of specific choke points that need to be ad- dressed. A somewhat similar view is reflected in GAO's recent Policy Description paper on freight transportation.52 The GAO paper puts the Federal and state policy decisions regarding investment in highway infrastructure can have major impacts on the freight 52 GAO, "Freight Transportation: National Policy and Strategies Can Help Im- system. Fiscal realities for the states are such that they are not prove Freight Mobility." GAO-08-287. January 2008.