From Andy Ellen, general counsel of the North Carolina Retail Merchants Assn. in Raleigh:
I read with interest your June 19 editorial “Put the brakes on big trucks bill,” which seeks to discredit the public policy behind SB 1695, which allows the industry standard 53-foot trailers on more North Carolina roads.
It is ironic that the Observer criticizes the use of the industry standard truck on roads that are most likely outside Mecklenburg County. The General Assembly should be commended for recognizing that without SB 1695, rural North Carolina will continue to be locked out of economic prosperity because 70 percent of goods move via a truck.
Under current law, there are some N.C. counties that do not have a single road that the industry standard 53-foot trailer is permitted to use. Groceries do not magically appear on the shelves in rural areas and no company is going to locate a manufacturing facility or a distribution center in an area of North Carolina where they cannot get their transport their products.
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As I read the Observer's viewpoint, I wondered if any member of the editorial staff had actually read SB 1695. The authority to determine which roads should not be used by the industry standard 53-foot trailer does not rest with the Joint Transportation Oversight Committee or the General Assembly, as the Observer has inaccurately stated, but rather only requires that the DOT consult with this Committee. The final authority resides with DOT.
The Observer lauds the better safety record of trucks in Virginia without having done their research to find out that Virginia allows for the use of the industry standard 53-foot trailers. Proponents of SB 1695 have acknowledged since the bill was introduced that there are some mountains roads that will need to be restricted, yet the Observer seems to ignore this point.
What the Observer also continues to ignore is not every North Carolinian lives within three miles of an interstate and that SB 1695 is good for consumers, good for rural North Carolina and good for the environment.