Highway Bill's Private Benefits
April 6, 1998
The $217 billion federal highway bill isn't just about spending massive amounts of money, critics point out. It also contains provisions that could translate into profits or cost savings for various special interests.
- Truckers in Maine, sugarcane growers in Louisiana and several prefabricated concrete companies are seeking exceptions for federal truck weight limits.
- A provision that would block federal inspectors from using "global positioning satellite" records to check on whether truckers were driving too many hours had been included at the insistence of trucking companies -- but was dropped at the last minute.
- A fast food company which traditionally closes on Sundays got a provision inserted to allow it to be listed on "food and lodging next exit" signs -- even though federal regulations require that establishments so listed be open seven days a week.
- Motorcyclists won a provision aimed at cities, including Chicago and Philadelphia, which have banned their vehicles from some streets because of noise; it states that no state or locality can bar motorcycle access to any federally funded highway.
Source: Charles R. Babcock, "Highway Bill's Bounty Isn't Always in Dollars," Washington Post, April 6, 1998.
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