Hoeven Secures Truck Weight Limit Increase for North Dakota, Reduces Transportation Costs for the Region

Funding Legislation Supports the State’s Transportation Infrastructure, Williston Airport Relocation, UAS Center of Excellence

WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven, a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development and Related Agencies, this week secured a provision in the Senate’s Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 funding legislation to increase truck weight limits in North Dakota. This effort, which allows a limit of up to 129,000 pounds on the two federal interstates and several state highways, dovetails with legislation passed by the state legislature this year and harmonizes the state standards with the neighboring states of Montana and South Dakota and the province of Manitoba. This will allow for the more cost-effective transportation of commodities, including crops, livestock and machinery, throughout the region.

“By allowing North Dakota to increase its truck weight limit, we are helping reduce costs for our farmers, ranchers and small businesses, which is especially important when faced with challenges from low commodity prices and drought,” said Hoeven. “This appropriations bill also helps ensure progress can continue on a wide range of vital projects across the state. This includes improvements to our airports, like the Williston airport relocation, and ongoing research and development necessary to the future of our UAS industry.”

Hoeven worked to include the following state priorities in the funding bill, which the full Senate Appropriations Committee recently approved:

  • Directs the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to provide sufficient funding to relocate airports that are in critical need of expansion but are unable to expand due to physical limits. This provision, which Hoeven authored and also included in last year’s bill, prioritizes projects like the Williston airport relocation.
  • Provides $12 million for the Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) Center of Excellence co-led by the University of North Dakota. Of this, $5 million will be spent on research establishing safety standards, with the requirement that the national test sites, including the Northern Plains UAS Test Site, be used to the greatest extent possible to establish and validate these standards.  
  • Maintains funding at FY2017 levels for the Airport Improvement Program (AIP), which is critical to several projects at airports across North Dakota, including Williston.
  • Fully funds the Highway Trust Fund at the levels established by the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act, which Congress passed in 2015.
  • Preserves funding for air carriers serving small communities through the Essential Air Service (EAS) program.