Leahy skeptical relief coming for N.H.-Vt. bridge
LEBANON, N.H. - A Vermont senator said he doubts Congress will act soon to help truckers who are inconvenienced by new weight limits on a bridge between New Hampshire and Vermont.
Senator Patrick J. Leahy said Congress is not scheduled to debate highway bills until next year, and partisan gridlock has slowed action generally in Washington.
"There isn't a highway bill coming, and I don't expect there to be," Leahy said Wednesday while visiting Olympic Precision Inc., a defense research company. The firm is a few hundred yards from the Route 4 bridge connecting White River Junction to West Lebanon.
Officials recently limited trucks crossing the bridge to 20,000 pounds.
A routine inspection in July by New Hampshire officials found extensive corrosion.
The bridge had been a key route for heavy trucks serving area industries.
The nearby Interstate 89 bridge would be a good alternative, but weight restrictions on interstate highways in Vermont keep truckers from carrying as much as they would like.
Governor Jim Douglas of Vermont and truckers want the interstate limit raised to that in New Hampshire - 99,000 pounds.
But Leahy told the Valley News of Lebanon that won't happen soon.
Leahy also said he is not sure he would support it.
John Zicconi, a spokesman for the Vermont Agency of Transportation, said state officials have struggled for years to win federal support for a weight limit.
"We find that unfortunate, but not surprising," Zicconi said of Leahy's remarks. "We have been on them for years, [and] we understand nothing is going to happen anytime soon."