ITD’s Negotiated Rulemaking on large, permitted trucks: The Beginning
It was a cold, dreary Monday on the 1st of February, 2016. The legislative session was in full swing and heating up quickly as the temperature outside hovered around 32 degrees. On that day, two seasoned state senators called for a meeting to discuss 129K trucks.
For those that do not know, "129K trucks" is industry lingo for 129,000-pound loads hauled by commercial motor vehicles (CMV). Also, as many know, these trucks have become very controversial in the past few decades. But, buried in the Omnibus federal appropriations bill of December 2015 were a few short sentences that would impact the department, Idaho Transportation Board and the trucking industry for months and months to come.
"What were those short few sentences?" you may wonder. Well, it was language lifting a more than 20-year moratorium on 129K trucks being legal on the Idaho Interstate system without having to have the route pre-approved or specifically designated by the Board. Who is credited with inserting this language into that appropriations bill? That would be Senator Mike Crapo.
The February 1 meeting had a handful of heavy hitters, including lobbyists, industry professionals, ITD personnel, and of course, politicians. One prudent northern Idaho senator knew that her constituents would likely be stressed and scared of these great big trucks coming to their backyard, so safety needed to be addressed immediately. So, it was decided ITD would be responsible for improving truck safety through the administrative rulemaking process. But, what ITD didn’t yet know was how and in what way this would be accomplished.
Of course, the department has been doing rulemaking for years, but this was different. There were no rule changes to begin with or suggested changes being proposed, so we had to start from scratch. It became evident that this rulemaking was going to be different from what any ITD employee had ever experienced. The agency knew that the rule changes had to improve safety for CMVs, but where does one start with such a sweeping blank slate?
Fast forward to March 21, 2016. Governor Otter sent a letter to Chairman Whitehead and the Idaho Transportation Board, specifically requesting that rulemaking be initiated to enhance truck “safety on all Idaho roads” and that these new rules must apply to “all trucks of every weight and classification.” With this directive straight from the top, ITD knew that this project was going to be all-hands-on-deck, with many watchful eyes waiting in anticipation of what would come next.
Note from the Author (pictured right): Stay tuned for the next installment of ITD’s Negotiated Rulemaking in the coming weeks.