[Federal Register: January 15, 1999 (Volume 64, Number 10)]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION
Federal Highway Administration
[FHWA Docket No. FHWA-98-4498; FHWA-95-5]
Comprehensive Truck Size and Weight Study; Availability of Volume
III, Scenario Analysis
AGENCY: Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), DOT.
ACTION: Notice; request for comments.
SUMMARY: The FHWA is announcing the availability of a draft of Volume
III, Scenario Analysis of the report for the Comprehensive Truck Size
and Weight (TS&W) Study (October 1998) for review and comment. The
document will be mailed to individuals that have previously expressed
an interest in the study.
Volume III presents a description of the analytical framework used
to evaluate a set of alternative TS&W options selected for review by
the DOT. Data and analytical tools have been developed to evaluate
critical impact areas: highway agency costs (pavement preservation,
bridge protection and geometric requirements), externalities (safety of
the system, environmental quality, energy consumption and traffic flow)
and economic impact (rail competitiveness and shipper costs).
For each of five scenarios, the impacts, as delineated above, have
been assessed and compared to a status quo baseline. These findings are
presented in Volume III. The DOT identified three illustrative core
scenarios for initial evaluation. In addition, two policy proposals,
initiated by external groups, were targeted for analysis. Scenarios
were specified using a building block approach which includes
configuration, highway network, and geographic options.
DATES: Comments must be received by March 16, 1999 in order to be
considered for inclusion in the final draft of the Volume III document.
ADDRESSES: Your signed, written comments must refer to the docket
number appearing at the top of this document and you must submit the
comments to the Docket Clerk, U.S. DOT Dockets, Room PL-401, 400
Seventh Street, SW., Washington, D.C. 20590-0001. All comments received
will be available for examination at the above address between 9 a.m.
and 5 p.m., e.t., Monday through Friday, except Federal Holidays. Those
desiring notification of receipt of comments must include a self-
addressed stamped envelope or postcard.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Ms. Regina McElroy, Office of Policy
Development, HPP-10, (202) 366-9216, or Mr. Charles E. Medalen, Office
of the Chief Counsel, HCC-20, (202) 366-1354, FHWA, 400 Seventh Street,
SW., Washington, D. C. 20590-0001. Office hours are from 7:45 a.m. to
4:15 p.m., e.t., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays.
Internet users can access all comments received by the U.S. DOT
Dockets, Room PL-401, by using the universal resource locator (URL):
http://dms.dot.gov. It is available 24 hours each day, 365 days each
year. Please follow the instructions online for more information and
An electronic copy of this document may be downloaded using a modem
and suitable communications software from the Government Printing
Office's Electronic Bulletin Board Service at (202) 512-1661. Internet
users may reach the Federal Register's home page at: http://
www.nara.gov/fedreg and the Government Printing Office's database at:
Availability of Copy
A copy of draft Volume III may be obtained by contacting Ms. April
McCrory, Office of Policy Development, HPP-10, facsimile: (202) 366-
7696. It is also available on the FHWA home page at the following
Internet address: http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/reports/tswstudy.
The DOT currently has under way a Comprehensive TS&W Study. The
study was initiated in 1994 by Secretary of Transportation Rodney E.
Slater, who was then the Federal Highway Administrator. The study will
provide a policy architecture or a fact-based framework for decision
makers as they consider the relative impacts of alternative TS&W policy
options. Specific policy recommendations are not included in the study.
Volume III of the study focuses on scenario analysis. Five
scenarios were analyzed to assess the potential impact of changes in
national TS&W policies. Each scenario was compared to a Base Case. The
three illustrative scenarios analyzed are: ``Uniformity,'' ``North
American Trade'' and ``Longer Combination Vehicles (LCVs) Nationwide.''
The two policy scenarios analyzed are: H.R. 551, ``The Safe Highways
and Infrastructure Preservation Act'' and ``Triples Nationwide.''
The Base Case retains all features of current law and provides a
baseline against which the other scenarios may be compared. It also
includes existing grandfather rights and the freeze imposed by the
Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act (ISTEA) of 1991 (Pub.
L. 102-240, 105 Stat. 1914) which restricted the use of LCVs to the
types of operations in effect as of June 1, 1991.
Under the Uniformity scenario, current grandfather provisions that
now allow some States to retain gross vehicle weight (GVW) and axle
weight limits higher than the Federal limits on the Interstate System
would be eliminated. This scenario would also extend Federal limits to
non-Interstate portions of the National Network (NN) for large trucks,
resulting in nationally uniform weight limits on the NN.
North American Trade
The North American Trade scenario is focused on trade among the
North American countries. This trade could be facilitated by allowing
the operation of six-axle tractor-semitrailer combinations at 97,000
pounds GVW. Under this scenario, a 51,000-pound tridem-axle weight
would be allowed. Currently, the weight allowed on a three-axle group
is limited by the Federal Bridge Formula. A 51,000-pound tridem-axle
weight limit would provide for the legal transportation of 40-foot
containers loaded to maximum international weight limits. Because a
tridem-axle weight limit of 51,000 pounds would have adverse
infrastructure and safety impacts, a 44,000-pound tridem-axle weight
limit was also analyzed. Under these limits a six-axle tractor
semitrailer combination could operate at 90,000 pounds. In addition,
this tridem-axle weight limit could provide a productivity increase for
short wheelbase straight trucks.
Longer Combination Vehicles (LCVs)
The LCVs Nationwide scenario explores the impact of lifting the
ISTEA freeze on LCVs. The ISTEA included language to prevent the
expansion of LCVs into States that did not permit them before June 1,
1991. The Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (Pub. L. 105-
178, 112 Stat. 107) did not amend or remove the freeze. In this
scenario, LCVs would be afforded higher GVW limits than other
commercial motor vehicles, subject to their number of axles. All other
Federal TS&W controls would remain.
On February 4, 1997, Representative Oberstar introduced H.R. 551,
entitled Safe Highways and Infrastructure Preservation Act of 1997.
This bill would phase out trailers longer than 53 feet, freeze State
grandfather rights, and freeze weight limits on non-Interstate portions
of the National Highway System.
The Triples Nationwide scenario was recommended as a result of
outreach efforts. This scenario is a subset of the LCVs Nationwide
scenario and would permit the operation of triple-trailer combinations
across the country. This scenario focuses on a seven-axle triple-
trailer combination which would be permitted to operate nationwide at a
GVW of 132,000 pounds.
The scenarios, as well as the impact areas, were selected based on
comments received through the study's extensive outreach process.
Outreach activities have included: (1) a Federal Register notice
requesting initial public comment under FHWA Docket No. 95-5 (February
2, 1995, 60 FR 6587); (2) public meetings with representatives of large
and small carriers, trucking industry associations, safety advocates
and representatives from State and local governments (March 13, 1995,
60 FR 13510); (3) regional focus sessions to secure input from major
constituencies and experts; (4) special teleconference sessions
addressing issues of importance with our State partners; (5) external
review of draft documents by Congress, State representatives and other
interested parties prior to finalization; and (6) an Impact Methodology
Review Conference (April 30, 1998, 63 FR 23822).
The study approach also reflects extensive internal Departmental
coordination. Policy oversight and direction for the study were
provided by a DOT Policy Oversight Group (POG). The POG is comprised of
from throughout the Department including representatives from the
Office of the Secretary of Transportation, FHWA, the Federal Railroad
Administration, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and
the Maritime Administration. In addition to POG oversight, a Multimodal
Advisory Group (MAG) was established to ensure that major technical
decisions shaping the Study would be made on an intermodal basis. The
MAG is comprised of staff-level representatives from throughout the
The DOT anticipates that the final Comprehensive TS&W Study report
will be transmitted to Congress in the spring of 1999. It will include
four volumes: Volume I--Executive Summary, Volume II--Issues and
Background, Volume III--Scenario Analysis, and Volume IV--Guide to
Documentation. A draft version of Volume II was distributed for
external review in June 1997.
Authority: 23 U.S.C. 315; 49 U.S.C. 301, 302, and 305; 49 CFR
Issued on: January 7, 1999.
Kenneth R. Wykle,
Federal Highway Administrator.
[FR Doc. 99-934 Filed 1-14-99; 8:45 am]
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