Loggers protesting to be allowed to carry heavier loads on the interstate plan a truck convoy demonstration through downtown Thursday morning.
The loggers are pushing for a change in federal law that would allow them to haul larger loads on interstate highways. They contend that the change would save them money in fuel costs and would improve safety.
Minnesota loggers are allowed to carry truckloads of up to 90,000 pounds on state and county roads. But the most they are allowed to carry on interstate highways is 80,000 pounds. That means in Duluth, they have to take alternate routes, like Superior Street through downtown.
That doesn't make sense to Scott Dane, executive director of the Associated Contract Loggers & Truckers of Minnesota.
"There's just no way that it can be argued that cobblestone roads in Duluth are more suitable than the federal interstate system for carrying logging trucks," Dane said.
Hauling smaller loads is more expensive and slower for loggers, he said.
Opponents say heavier trucks on freeways are dangerous and also more quickly damage infrastructure.
"We believe that these trucks are inherently dangerous. The American public doesn't want them either," said Cathy Chase, senior director of governmental affairs for the consumer group, Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety. "Public opinion poll after public opinion poll has shown that no one wants to drive next to these hundred-thousand-pound trucks."