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Senate Passes Spending Bill With Maine-Vermont Heavy-Truck Provision

11/2/2011 10:30:00 AM
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The Senate passed a spending measure Tuesday that would bring higher truck weights back to Maine and Vermont’s interstate highways on a permanent basis.

“This is a major step forward in my effort to allow the heaviest trucks to drive on our federal interstates for once and for all,� Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) said in a statement following the Senate’s 69-30 vote to approve the funding bill.

Collins sponsored the amendment that would allow trucks up to 100,000 pounds on Maine and Vermont’s interstates.

The two states had heavier trucks on their interstates in 2010 as part of a pilot program Congress approved. Both states allow trucks up to 100,000 pounds on many non-interstate highways, “where it is safer for them to travel,� Collins said.

Also Tuesday, Republican senators failed in their third attempt in less than two months to eliminate federal money for bike paths, walking trails and other transportation enhancement projects, the Associated Press reported. An amendment by Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) was defeated by a 60-38 vote.

The approved bill would fund transportation and housing programs with $109.5 billion, just below the $109.6 appropriated for 2011, the Senate Appropriations Committee said. The bill also includes separate funding for agriculture, justice and science programs.

A House transportation subcommittee has approved a spending bill that does not include the heavy-truck provision and the two versions may need to be worked out in a conference committee, Rep. Hal Rogers (R-Ky.), chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, said last week.

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