The American Automobile Association and Northern Virginia civic groups opposed changes in federal and state regulations yesterday that would permit longer and wider trucks to use more highways in the state.
The proposal, before the Virginia General Assembly, would permit 18-wheel tractor-trailers 10 feet longer and half a foot wider than now allowed to travel on roads like Arlington Boulevard, Lee Highway and Leesburg Pike, AAA spokesman Tom Crosby told a legislative subcommittee hearing in Annandale.
When first proposed last year, "common sense prevailed, and in Northern Virginia at least, the wider and longer trucks were restricted to interstates," Crosby said.
Under the federal Surface Transportation Act of 1982, states are required to permit larger trucks, up to 65 feet long and 8.5 feet wide, on interstates and certain primary roads. Last year, Virginia strictly limited the number of primary roads the large trucks could use, but the legislature called for a review because it said the restrictions "were enacted in haste."
Opposed yesterday to any easing of truck restrictions was Jamie Barry, who lives on Rte. 17 in Warrenton, where four Northern Virginia women were killed three weeks ago in a tractor-trailer accident. She said her narrow rural road is a primary road but less than 20 feet wide in places. It already carries "more than 1,000 trucks a day . . . . overweight trucks, speeding trucks that can't stop for school buses because they're going too fast," she said.
The Fairfax County Federation of Citizens Associations and the Virginia Federation of Women's Clubs also spoke in opposition.
Spokesmen for several trucking companies called the current regulations too restrictive and said they don't allow the trucks to use all the primary roads that the federal government would permit them to use.