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North Dakota studying extra-long semi-trailers to lower fuel costs

The North Dakota Department of Transportation is beginning a pilot study to examine the possibility of longer trucks on state roads, Associated Press reported last week.

Lawmakers reportedly considered legislation last spring that dealt with “road trains” or extra-long semi-trailers meant to save on fuel costs and other expenses. Legislators passed a bill to study the matter, due to safety concerns.

“This is a great opportunity to work with our transportation partners and learn more about the long combination vehicle impact on the state highway system,” Mike Kisse, maintenance assistance division engineer with the Transportation Department, told reporters. “This legislation has the potential to benefit the North Dakota economy.”

Officials are reportedly accepting ideas on routes and configurations from transportation industry leaders through the end of November. The Department of Transportation is considering allowing cargo trailers up to 130 feet in length — the existing limit is 100 feet.

The department will review the proposed routes to make sure the longer trucks can safely drive over bridges and through intersections, officials said. And they will study how safe it will be for cars passing the longer trailers. The Upper Great Plains Transportation Institute at North Dakota State University has partnered with the state for the study.

The department plans to report its findings by Aug. 1, 2022.