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Editorial: Senate puts Wachtmann in his place


August 23. 2013 12:03PM
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The Lima News



At least one legislative chamber in Ohio understands the dangers of allowing bigger trucks on the highway. The Ohio Senate announced Wednesday it will not consider state Rep. Lynn Wachtmann’s trouble-filled plan to dramatically increase the weight limit of trucks allowed on state and local roads.



Wachtmann, R-Napoleon, wants to see Ohio’s limit increase to 90,000 pounds from 80,000, saying such a move would bolster Ohio’s economy. He’s not saying what facts he used to make that assumption, nor is he talking about the higher profits his own business stands to make from such a move.



Wachtmann’s actions underscore the sleaziness of politics.



“This was irresponsible legislation and I am pleased to see the Senate agreed with law enforcement on this safety issue,” said Clyde Police Chief Bruce Gower, who heads up the Ohio Association of Chiefs of Police. “I hope the House will honor the decision of the Senate and preserve the existing truck weight law in Ohio.”



Ohio has 6,381 structurally deficient or functionally obsolete bridges, according to the Federal Highway Administration. That is one out of every four bridges in the state. It also said trucks operating under overweight permits cause $145 million in road and bridge damage annually.



It’s been suggested that adding an additional axle to trailers hauling extra-heavy loads would make the trailers safer and also eliminate the damage. Not so, says the FHA. It points to a pilot program in Vermont that found adding a sixth axle to heavier trucks resulted in increased pavement costs.The same study cited concerns over safety when trucks designed to carry 80,000 pounds are retrofitted with an extra 6th axle to carry heavier loads.



The two versions of this legislation must now be reconciled by a House-Senate conference committee. Opponents are asking House and Senate leaders to accept the Senate’s changes and move forward.



Wachtmann could make it easier by doing the right thing and telling the House to drop his provision. That would require him to do something ethically correct. His track record in that area isn’t the best.





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