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Lansing — The state Senate on Tuesday rejected cutting in half Michigan’s highest-in-the-nation weight limits for heavy commercial trucks.

Sen. Steve Bieda, D-Warren, had proposed lowering the 164,000-pound limit for an 11-axle truck to 80,000 pounds spread across five axles.

The Republican-controlled Senate defeated his bill 15-22, with three Republicans joining the 12-member Democratic caucus in voting in favor of the change.

Heavy trucks have routinely been at the center of the Legislature’s long-running debate on how to fix Michigan’s crumbling roads and whether to raise gas taxes on average drivers. An 80,000-pound limit would put weight restrictions more in line with neighboring states.

“Time and time again we’ve heard this administration and the Senate majority leadership talk about shared sacrifice,” said Sen. Coleman Young II, D-Detroit. “Bringing Michigan truck weight limits in line with other states is just that — shared sacrifice.”

Opponents argued reducing the weight limit would cause more damage to the roads because the 164,000 pounds are spread over 11 axles (14,909 pounds per axle), whereas the 80,000 pounds would have to be spread only over five axles (16,000 pounds per axle).

“Hello,” Sen. John Pappageorge, R-Troy, said on the Senate floor. “Let’s do the math first, establish the facts and then have a conversation about philosophy.”

Sen. Tom Casperson, who used to run a family log-hauling business, said lowering the limits would sideline commercial trucks designed to drive on Michigan roads.

“We’re simply going to tell them to throw (those trucks) away and oh, by the way, the bank’s still going to want their money,” said Casperson, R-Escanaba.

Sen. Mike Green, R-Mayville, said the bill would double the number of semi-trucks hauling grain out of his “breadbasket” district in the Thumb.

“I certainly would hate to have to double that number of trucks that’s coming down the road every day,” Green said.

Just 6,385 trucks or 8 percent of the 79,895 commercial trucks registered in 2012 were designed to carry loads of more than 80,000 pounds, according to data from the Secretary of State’s office.

Bieda’s bill also would have subjected 8,000 to 10,000 commercial trucks to $1,660 in increased vehicle registration fees each year, according to the Department of Transportation.

Republican Sens. Jack Brandenburg of Harrison Township, Tory Rocca of Sterling Heights and Patrick Colbeck of Canton voted with 12 Democrats for the bill.

“Where I live, trucks cause a big mess,” Brandenburgsaid after the vote.

Following the vote, Senate Floor Leader Arlan Meekhof moved to have the vote reconsidered, meaning the upper chamber could vote again on the bill during the three-week lame duck session that ends Dec. 18.

“It’s not dead,” Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville, R-Monroe, told The Detroit News. “It just hasn’t had the work that it deserved.”

clivengood@detroitnews.com

(517) 371-3660

Twitter.com/ChadLivengood

Trucks by weight

Most of the 79,895 trucks registered by weight in Michigan in December 2012 were under 80,000 pounds by gross vehicle weight. How the remainder weighed in:

80,001 to 90,000: 924

90,001 to 100,000: 778

100,001 to 115,000: 710

115,001 to 130,000: 737

130,001 to 145,000: 587

145,001 to 160,000: 2,328

160,001 to 164,000: 321

Source: Michigan Department of Transportation

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