Heavy trucks will continue to be allowed to use a 131 mile segment of Highway 41 stretching between Green Bay and Milwaukee under a provision written by U.S. Senator Herb Kohl and approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee today. That segment will become an Interstate Highway in 2014, prohibiting trucks that weigh over 80,000 from using Highway 41. Kohl's measure lifts that restriction, out of concern that heavy trucks would be forced to by-pass the Highway 41 corridor and travel on streets that were not built to handle their size through neighborhoods with schools, populated city streets and narrow rural roads. The proposal was included in the FY2013 Senate Transportation, Housing and Urban Development and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill, which passed the committee today.
"Highway 41 is a heavily-trafficked commercial corridor that our industries rely on for business and growth. We know that diverting heavy trucks from the highway into our neighborhoods and rural communities will create safety hazards, and I'm pleased that my colleagues have agreed to lift the heavy truck restrictions from that stretch of road," Kohl said.
Heavy trucks associated with agriculture, paper companies, recycling and waste management are estimated to comprise ten to fifteen percent of truck traffic on Highway 41. In 2005, the segment of Highway 41 was designated to become an Interstate Highway in 2014, resulting in trucks over 80,000 pounds currently traveling on the highway being subject to fines.
Kohl and Congressman Tom Petri have worked to build a broad coalition of bipartisan support for the Highway 41 proposal among business and law enforcement in Wisconsin. Kohl's provision was supported by the Wisconsin Towns Association, the City of Oshkosh, the Fox Cities Chamber of Commerce, the Oshkosh Chamber of Commerce, Heart of the Valley Chamber of Commerce, the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce, the East Central Wisconsin Planning Commission and the County Executives of Milwaukee, Winnebago and Outagamie. Petri is also working to clear the Highway 41 proposal in the House of Representatives.