As a result of the Fixing America's Surface Transportation Act or "FAST Act" signed into law by President Obama last December, the U.S. Dept. of Transportation is now allowing trucks powered by natural gas engines to travel Federal highways with a total gross vehicle weight or gross combination vehicle weight of 82,000 lbs. The added allowance is effective immediately.
FAST Act is the first law enacted in more than 10 years to provide long-term funding certainty for surface transportation. Thus, allowing state and local governments to confidently move forward with critical transportation projects within their borders.
The weight allowance is an incentive by the Feds to encourage more alternative fuel heavy duty vehicles on the roads by compensating for the additional weight of natural gas fuel systems and tanks. Proponents say it levels the playing field for natural gas trucks that are currently unable to haul the same amount of freight as diesel-powered trucks.
Motor carriers choosing to utilize this option must be sure to have proper registrations and tags in place that will authorize them to operate in excess of 80,000 lbs.
Meanwhile, ATA officials remind carriers that Alabama allows for a 10 percent tolerance (up to 88,000 lbs.) on state highways because it uses portable scales, which are known to have a wider tolerance than permanent scales. Alabama’s lone permanent weigh station, located on Interstate 20 near Heflin, Ala., will not offer the 10 percent allowance for its measurements.
Likewise, due to all surrounding states having multiple, permanent scale facilities, none are offering a 10 percent tolerance on their respective highways.