Pilot program raises truck weight limits between Tucson, Nogales

Study will explore impact of heavier trucks on I-10 and I-19

TUCSON – The Arizona Department of Transportation is beginning a year-long pilot program allowing slightly heavier trucks in one of the state’s key transportation corridors, responding to requests from area leaders to help make commercial traffic more efficient.

Starting Sept. 1, trucks on interstates in the Tucson area and between Tucson and Nogales may receive permits from ADOT allowing them to carry up to 83,000 pounds rather than the current weight limit of 80,000 pounds. The pilot program applies to I-10 between mileposts 232 and 279 in Tucson and Marana, Interstate 19 between Tucson and Nogales, and Business 19 in Nogales.

The reason: Freight containers passing through the Port of Tucson are allowed by railway permits to weigh a maximum of 53,000 pounds, while the truck rigs that haul them usually weigh about 30,000 pounds. Raising the weight limit slightly removes the need to offload some of each container’s contents before it goes on a truck, allowing commerce to flow more freely.

During the pilot program, ADOT will study whether the higher weight limit has an impact on the condition of highways.

“These roadways are Key Commerce Corridors that contribute significantly to Arizona’s economy,” ADOT Director John Halikowski said. “Operating at the speed of business means that ADOT looks for ways to make freight travel as friction-free as possible while safeguarding Arizona’s investment in our highways. We need data to assess the impacts to infrastructure and Arizona businesses.”

“Strengthening our region’s economy and enhancing international trade continue to be key focus areas of my administration,” Tucson Mayor Jonathan Rothschild said. “Mexico is Arizona’s No. 1 international trading partner. We must ensure efficient cross-border connectivity to maintain economic competitiveness with other border states. ADOT’s I-19 Heavier Truck Pilot Program and technical study demonstrate ADOT’s commitment to our shared goal of greater economic prosperity for our state and region, while also ensuring the safety of the traveling public.”

Sharon Bronson, chair of the Pima County Board of Supervisors, said ADOT is recognizing and addressing a competitive need.

“Increasing cargo capacities on interstates 10 and 19 will make southern Arizona more competitive, help attract new commerce, and retain the companies and jobs we have,” Bronson said. “The ADOT Interstate 19 Heavier Truck Pilot Program is a great step in reducing logistics costs for our region’s businesses. The program will also help to clarify the infrastructure impact of trucks carrying fully loaded containers.”

The Port of Tucson is a full-service facility located off I-10 near Kolb Road that serves both the commercial trucking and railroad industries.

“This is a great example of private industry and government working together to make Tucson and southern Arizona more competitive globally, and make importing and exporting more efficient, not only for companies located in southern Arizona, but also within Mexico, our No. 1 trading partner,” said Stefan Baumann, director of business development for the Port of Tucson.