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Apr.20, 2015

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GOVERNMENT WATCH INTERNATIONAL | WASHINGTON | CUSTOMS | SECURITY | REGULATION APRIL 20.2015 16 THE JOURNAL OF COMMERCE By Reynolds Hutchins IT'S BEEN MORE than 30 years since the fed- eral government has changed the limit on truck trailer length. Eighteen states allow so-called double 33s, or twin 33s, on por- tions of their interstate highway systems. FedEx, Con-Way Freight, Old Dominion Freight Line and other major trucking companies have long pushed for larger trailer sizes. Both sides in the debate over larger trailers are gearing up for the next battle as Congress works on the next federal surface transportation bill. FedEx Chairman and CEO Fred Smith has said there is a "good chance" Congress will agree this year to increase from 28 to 33 feet the maximum length of truck trailers on double hookups. Facing tighter capacit y, the rule change would allow trucking companies to reduce the num- ber of rigs on the road and more efficiently haul the surge of e-commerce shipments that tend to "cube out" before "weighing out," proponents argue. Other trucking executives and trade groups don't share Smith's optimism, and industry insiders on either side of the debate are hesitant to comment on the prospect of a change to the federal limit on trailer size. Smith, whose company owns FedEx Freight, the United States' largest trucking operator, told analysts in a March earnings call that he is "very hopeful" lawmakers will add the necessary language to the sur- face transportation bill being worked on by Congress. It's the "biggest thing the federal government can do," to increase produc- tivity, conserve fuel and reduce carbon emissions without damaging U.S. roads and highways, Smith said. Larger trailers also could be a boon to less-than-truckload carriers that could see line-haul capacity increase by 10 feet, or 18 percent, with new twin 33s, according to investment firm Stifel. In a recently released research note, Stifel agreed with Smith's assessment that larger trailers would require fewer trucks and drivers to move the same amount of freight, reducing driver needs and fuel con- sumption. And, as long as the federal vehicle weight limit of 80,000 pounds remains unchanged, the impact to roadways would remain negligible. "Most freight 'cubes out' well before it 'weighs out,' " David Ross, a managing director of the Stifel Transportation and Research group, wrote in the note. Opponents have argued that larger trail- ers will mean greater damage to U.S. surface transportation infrastructure, more conges- tion and a significant environmental impact. "Multitrailer trucks have an 11 percent higher fatal crash rate than single-trailer trucks," Shane Reese, a spokesman for the Coalition Against Bigger Trucks, told The Journal of Commerce. A LONGER, QUIETER HAUL With another transportation bill on the horizon, this year's debate over longer trucks is decidedly muted

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