Illinois is softening its rules on truck weights as crop hauling season begins, the last time it will need to do so by a governor’s harvest emergency declaration before a new law kicks in next year.
The proclamation by Gov. Bruce Rauner goes into effect Monday, September 10. It will allow crop haulers to obtain an exemption from the state’s Department of Transportation that permits them to exceed gross vehicle and gross axle weight limits—whichever is less on the truck—by up to 10% on state and federal highways under DOT jurisdiction. According to a statement issued by Rauner’s office, interstate highways are not included.
“”We have heard from Illinois’ trucking industry and from farmers who are operating on thin profit margins in today’s agricultural climate,” Rauner said at a farm in Auburn, Ill. where he made his announcement. “Today’s harvest emergency declaration recognizes that the weight-restriction structure in place in Illinois put our farmers and truckers at a disadvantage.”
Local press reports indicate the crop harvest declaration had become a frequent event. But the need for a declaration will be replaced next year by a new law that codifies the changes, signed into law by Rauner just a few weeks ago. A permit will still be needed—as it will be this year—but the declaration from the governor declaring a crop emergency will no longer be required.
The statement from Rauner’s office said Kentucky, Missouri and Wisconsin—which all border Illinois—”automatically ease highway weight limits at harvest time.”
Illinois Farm Bureau President Richard Guebert Jr. said in a prepared statement that the declaration is especially important this year. Among the reasons: “(W)hat is likely to be a record-breaking crop that must be harvested and transported efficiently.” In a report on Rauner’s declaration in the Rochelle News Leader, a local agriculture official, Ron Kern, was similarly quoted as saying, “By all indications it is looking like we’ve got a sizeable crop, particularly in northern Illinois.”