Energy & Environment

State Lawmakers Approve Bill Allowing Heavier Trucks on Houston Roads

The Senate still has to approve amendments to the bill before it heads to the governor’s desk.

Heavier trucks could soon be traveling the roads around Houston.

State lawmakers have pushed forward a bill allowing heavier semi trucks on the roads in Houston.

Senate Bill 1524 was supported by the oil and gas industry. It creates permits for heavier trucks within 30 miles of the Port of Houston, allowing trucks to carry shipping containers with loads weighing up to 100,000 pounds.  That’s generally more than what’s currently allowed, though there are some exceptions.

The Texas Oil and Gas Association lobbied for the bill, saying it would make it easier to move refined natural gas products from petrochemical plants to the Houston port.

“For our purpose, it’s polyethylene pellets that can be exported internationally to these massive markets,” says Todd Staples, the group’s president.

Staples says with this legislation, trucks could carry more of those pellets per load, which, he argues, would make Texas more competitive in the growing petrochemical sector.

“The decision of where to put these billions of dollars of projects are really dependent upon if Texas is smart about modernizing our transportation policy,” Staples says.

Backers of the bill insist the bigger trucks will be safe because of specialized technology, but not everyone’s buying that.

La Porte Mayor Louis Rigby opposed the bill, saying in a Houston Chronicle column that the bigger loads would make roads in industry-heavy communities like his more dangerous.

State lawmakers have approved the bill, but the Senate has to approve some amendments before it heads to the governor’s desk. If that doesn’t happen, there’s a chance the bill could still die.

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Travis Bubenik

Travis Bubenik

Energy & Environment Reporter

Travis Bubenik reports on the tangled intersections of energy and the environment in Houston and across Texas. A Houston native and proud Longhorn, he returned to the Bayou City after serving as the Morning Edition Host & Reporter for Marfa Public Radio in Far West Texas. Bubenik was previously the...

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