The Virginia Highway and Transportation Commission passed a resolution asking the governor to allow 14-foot wide trailers to travel immediately on state highways. Currently, trailers are restricted to 12 feet.
Last year's General Assembly had set up a special commission to determine if allowing wider trailers would be inconvenient or unsafe. Reports showed that there are "no major differences between 12-and 14-foot-wide units in terms of safety and convenience to the motoring public," according to Del. Alan A. Diamonstein (D Newport News), who chaired the Housing Study Commission.
Highway commissioners determined the situation is an emergency requiring an immediate soluttion after the state Office of Housing said a delay would harm both the mobile and modular housing industry as well as worsening existing housing conditions.
Diamonstein said the state is hurting the mobile home industry by prohibiting it from effectively competing with the 43 states that allow 14-foot trailers. The market currently is for the larger mobile homes, he added.
"We found that two feet is a tremendous difference to the people who live in those houses, and the cost for that additional space is peanuts," Diamon stein said.
The commissioners were told that a number of housing firms have had to reduce production, employment and operating hours because they cannot compete with neighboring states. The state is missing out on from $62,000 to $100,000 a month in tax revenues, they also were told.
The commissioners limited the number of hours and types of roadways on which the trailers can travel. They said they will continue to review the issue for possible revision and will hold a public hearing.
In other action, the highway commission delayed until next month a decision on whether to drop plans for construction of Interstate Rte. 1-595 in the Crystal City area of Arlington County or to appeal the decision of an Alexandria federal court judge which has temporarily halted the road.
Virginia assistant attorney general John Beall told commissioners he has not met with federal attorneys concerning the judge's order and therefore had no recommendation. Beall said it would take at least two years to go through the process of holding more public hearings and preparing another environmental impact statement.