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The current highway bill extension is set to expire on October 29. Congress needs to pass a new bill by then and it's opted for another month long extension to work on a long term highway bill.
On October 23, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee approved a multi-year surface transportation bill, which establishes a plan on how the U.S. maintains roads and bridges. A debate and vote for that is likely to happen in the House next week.
Earlier this year, the Senate passed a multi-year highway bill, which will be matched to the outcome of the House version.
One amendment offered when the House bill is considered, is the SAFE Trucking Act, which lets heavier semi-trucks drive on the nation's interstates and that could make the nations roads more efficient.
Executive Director for the Soy Transportation Coalition Mike Steenhoek says, "But unfortunately in Washington DC, there's a host of issues that are really sucking all of the oxygen out of the room, and it's really impeding Congress' ability to do the people's business and transportation is one of those issues that a lot of people don't pay attention to unless there's a calamity, but it is something they utilize on a daily basis and it's very integral."
An amendment offered when the House bill is considered is the SAFE Trucking Act, which lets heavier semi-trucks drive on the nation's interstates.
Steenhoek says that could make the nations roads more efficient, "The moment you do go from one state to another you can have different weight limits and all of a sudden that can really impede efficient transportation from one state to the other because a lot of grain that's grown in one state is actually delivered to another state or it's processed in another state so having that ability to have more of that seamless transportation that makes a whole lot of sense."
Trucks can go from an 80,000 pound configuration to 91,000 pounds, but only if they add a sixth axle. He says that distributes the weight more on the road, which helps the road imprint, gives another foot of stopping distance, and would take more semis off the road.
Positive Train Control is also an extension sought out by Congress, it is a seven year old mandate that requires trains with passengers or toxic cargos develop a automatic breaking system. Steenhoek says without it extended, there could be a significant slowdown or elimination of service.