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Legislature goes in reverse on allowing double trailers

The country roads of Florida soon should be rid of tandem trailer trucks. Gov. Lawton Chiles and legislative leaders said Tuesday that they will fix the goof-up that has allowed huge trucks to barrel down two-lane roads since Saturday.

The problem is that because of a change in federal regulations, states had until June 1 to enact their own laws governing the trucks. But legislators defeated a wide-ranging transportation bill that included the needed provisions. So, for the past few days, the double rigs have been able to travel on two-lane roads as long as they had a pick-up or delivery to make.

Previously they were allowed only on interstate highways and some four-lane roads.

The legislative blunder brought on a flurry of concern from people who said putting big trucks on little roads would be a serious hazard to drivers and would crumble pavement.

The American Automobile Association, which has nearly 2-million members in Florida, even asked the governor and Legislature last month to address the problem.

Legislators are to meet in a special session Thursday to plug a hole in the state budget. Their task could be expanded to repair the damage inadvertently done to the trucking laws last month when legislators rejected a wide-ranging transportation bill, Chiles said.

But House leaders are concerned that considering anything other than the budget problem during the special session could open to door to scores of bills that failed in regular session.

For that reason, House staff and Department of Transportation Secretary Ben Watts are researching state laws to see whether the department can simply address the problem through an administrative rule.

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