Ribble Statement on House Passage of Highway 41 Grandfathering Legislation

Jul 22, 2013 Issues: Jobs and the Economy, Transportation

Washington, D.C. - Today, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill introduced by Reps. Reid Ribble (R-WI) and Tom Petri (R-WI), both members of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, to ensure that trucks currently using Highway 41 in Wisconsin will continue to be able to operate on it once the road becomes an Interstate, which is likely to occur early next year.

“I am pleased that we are one step closer to signing this bill into law,” said Ribble.  “Highway 41 is an important thoroughfare for the entire state, and this legislation will not only keep the highway safe and secure for all its users, it will also ensure local manufacturers and businesses will not see any disruption in their shipping routes, providing much-needed certainty to the local economy. I look forward to supporting the efforts of Senators Baldwin and Johnson to move quickly on our legislation.”

“I’m pleased we were able to move this important legislation along so that trucks currently using the road can continue to use it once it becomes a part of the Interstate system,” said Petri, who is the chairman of the House Highways and Transit Subcommittee.  “And I’m glad that we have the bipartisan cooperation of the Wisconsin delegation and our two Senators.”

“Highway 41 is a huge part of our regional economy and millions of dollars in commerce depend on a fully-functioning road,” Petri continued.  “This proposal does not expand truck weights, but simply preserves the status quo so that current commerce is not disrupted.”

Under federal law, trucks over 80,000 lbs. in gross vehicle weight cannot operate on Interstate highways.  Many have raised concerns that this federal weight limit would harm the local economy in Wisconsin and pose safety risks for communities because oversized trucks would be forced to use local roadways.

Ribble's and Petri’s bill would grandfather in currently-operating trucks when Highway 41 is designated as part of the Interstate Highway System.  Similar provisions have been enacted for Interstate highway designations, such as I-39 in Wisconsin and I-99 in Pennsylvania.  Governor Scott Walker (R-WI), state legislators, local communities, and business groups have expressed support for Petri and Ribble’s bill.

“What we’re saying is simply that if you can operate now, you can operate in the future,” said Petri.

The House passed the bill (H.R. 2353) by voice vote.  It passed the House Transportation Committee by voice vote on July 18.

Highway 41 is the main thorough way through central Wisconsin from Milwaukee to Green Bay.  Twenty-three percent of the state’s manufacturing, retail, and wholesale businesses are located along Highway 41, and the highway is responsible for generating 29% of Wisconsin’s tourism dollars.

Outside organizations and stakeholders support this legislation:

Representatives from the Wisconsin Assembly and Senate wrote regarding this effort stating, “Nearly one quarter of all Wisconsin manufacturers and retail establishments are located along Highway 41. …If the proposed provision is not adopted by the end of 2013, it will have a drastic negative effect on our districts, our constituents and our local businesses.”

A diverse coalition of national and Wisconsin organizations stated: “Grandfathering will help Wisconsin businesses and will keep heavy trucks on the Interstate system where they belong and are safer.”

Wisconsin State Patrol: "As the agency with the primary traffic safety and commercial motor vehicle enforcement mission on the US 41 and a future I-41, the Wisconsin State Patrol fully supports the conversion of the highway to an interstate and the grandfathering of the current US 41 weight limits when the conversion occurs.”

Units of Government Supporting:  Wisconsin Department of Transportation, Wisconsin State Patrol, Wisconsin Counties Association, Wisconsin Towns Association

National Organizations Supporting:  Agricultural & Food Transporters Conference – ATA; American Feed Industry Association; American Forest & Paper Association; American Frozen Food Institute; American Loggers Council; American Road & Transportation Builders Association; American Trucking Associations; Associated General Contractors of America; Forest Resources Association, Inc.; Livestock Marketing Association; National Asphalt Pavement Association; National Cattlemen’s Beef Association; National Milk Producers Federation; National Potato Council; National Ready Mixed Concrete Association.

State Organizations Supporting:  Aggregate Producers of Wisconsin; City of Oshkosh; FarmFirst Dairy Cooperative; Fond du Lac Area Association of Commerce; Fox Cities Chamber of Commerce; Great Lakes Timber Professionals Association; Heart of the Valley Chamber of Commerce; Midwest Equipment Dealers Association; Midwest Food Processors Association; Northeast Wisconsin Chambers Coalition; Oshkosh Chamber of Commerce; Specialized Carriers & Rigging Association; Transportation Development Association; Waupaca Area Chamber of Commerce; Westside Association; Winnebago County Highway Commissioner; Winnebago County Highway Committee; Winnebago County Board Chairman; Wisconsin Agri-Business Association; Wisconsin Asphalt Pavement Association; Wisconsin Automotive Aftermarket Association; Wisconsin Automotive Parts Association; Wisconsin Bankers Association; Wisconsin Concrete Pavement Association; Wisconsin Counties Association; Wisconsin Dairy Business Association; Wisconsin Earth Movers Association; Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation; Wisconsin Grocers Association; Wisconsin Housing Alliance Wisconsin Independent Businesses; Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce; Wisconsin Milk Haulers Association; Wisconsin Motor Carriers Association; Wisconsin Paper Council; Wisconsin Petroleum Council; Wisconsin Potato & Vegetable Growers Association; Wisconsin Ready Mixed Concrete Association; Wisconsin Restaurant Association; Wisconsin Towns Association; Wisconsin Transportation Builders Association.