OSHKOSH - Heavy truck traffic is a common sight on Highway 41.
"My company we move about 650 loads a year down Highway 41," said Aaron Burmeister of Burmeister Trucking.
Come 2014, Highway 41 becomes an interstate. Some heavy trucks may have to find a new route to drive. That is unless legislation by Senator Herb Kohl and Representative Tom Petri changes the weight restrictions.
"It's really important to get this done because the commerce in this area depends on use of the highway," Kohl said.
Federal laws don't allow trucks over 80,000 pounds on interstate highways, making this legislation important for many trucking companies in Northeast Wisconsin.
The legislation will grant a permanent waiver of the interstate weight limit to commodities already being moved throughout the state. Wisconsin currently allows trucking companies to exceed the 80,000 pound weight limit on state roads by permit or state statutes.
"It will not allow additional weight on the highway, it will not authorize new configurations for trucks and it will not increase road damage," said Tom Howells, president of the Wisconsin Motor Carriers Association.
It is also not a done deal just yet.
"It's possible to do it, we have done it in the past and I am confident that we will do it sooner or later for the U.S. 41 conversion," said Petri.
Burmeister says his trucks routinely carry loads of up to 96,000 pounds by permit. He says without the exemption they'll have to haul more loads, more miles, meaning less money for their business.
"It would increase our trucking expenses by about 20% and our loads by 20% and our profit margins are not that big to absorb that," said Burmeister.
An important change to keep business rolling along.
And once the road is designated an interstate highway, what number will it be? The DOT says several options are on the table right now.
A spokesperson says naming it Interstate 41 is unlikely. The DOT wants to avoid confusion since parts of 41 will remain a U.S. Highway.
"Some other numbers we are looking at are three digit numbers which would be a loop of ighway 43 or a spur of highway 94, so we are looking at all the different numbers and the opportunities," said Tammy Rabe, of the state DOT.
That could make the highway's designation as I-243 or an extension of I-894, although the DOT would not confirm either number as among the possibilities.
Public input sessions on the interstate designation will be held in the coming weeks. Officials say they hope to start putting the new signs up by the summer of 2014.
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