|Size matters: Locals get trucking law amended
The Tennessee legislature passed a law in 2016 that aimed to restrict trucks with oversized loads from being caught in traffic on interstates in major metropolitan areas.
The idea was simple: Big trucks with wide loads, sometimes with a required escort, block traffic and make the stagnating line of cars worse.
But the new law created unintended consequences for
companies across the state. To help fix this, two Gerdau Ameristeel
Knoxville employees approached Rep. Jimmy Matlock, R-Lenoir City, about
the issues. Hours of research and many presentations later, Gov. Bill
signed their changes into law earlier
An unhelpful law
The new law restricted “over-dimensional loads” from passing through counties with more than 250,000 people from 6-9 a.m. and 3-6 p.m., which restricted Gerdau trucks and their long loads of rebar and steel from being able to pass freely through the state.
Gerdau’s David Turner, plant controller and continuous improvement manager, and Phillip Skeens, regional logistics manager, argued their trucks, while carrying long loads, didn’t require an escort truck in the front and rear like wide loads do and their long loads only took up one lane of traffic as opposed to the two lanes taken up by wide load trucks.
The law would have impacted approximately 7,500 shipments out of Gerdau’s Knoxville facility this year, Turner said.
The two brought their concerns to Matlock – from there, Turner and fellow worker Skeens researched and presented their data to lawmakers.
Matlock, who was chairman of the state’s Transportation Committee when the original law was passed, said state lawmakers overreacted with the original law.
“We do things in a quest to make it better and we don’t always completely and totally think it through,” he said. “None of us wanted to hurt business, that was never our intention, but that’s what we did … the best thing (to do) is to go back and admit you made a mistake.”
Haslam signed the amended law June 6. The law states that over-dimensional vehicles that don’t require an escort can travel on the interstate during previously restricted times. The new law also changed the restricted times to 7-9 a.m. and 4-6 p.m.
Turner said he was surprised at Matlock’s willingness to help and said this is how politics is supposed to work.
“It is unusual,” Turner said about the process. “I’ve not done this before. It just struck my mind that Mr. Matlock might have some input on this … I reached out to him and I didn’t know there would be a lot of help. I was pleasantly surprised.”