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Truck-mounted LED billboards coming under fire 7/17/2019 Trucker 'drones on' with unique approach to teaching driving skills 7/15/2019 Friday Short Haul - Rhode Island tolls, human smuggling, contractor vs employee status 7/12/2019 ELD mandate deadline looming, many still not compliant 7/10/2019 New "boot" device being deployed to threaten Walmart overnighters 7/8/2019 Friday Short Haul - Prime Inc vs Amazon, mother fights HOS changes, truck drivers appreciation week 7/5/2019 Proper way to fly the American flag on your truck this Fourth of July 7/3/2019 Roundabouts are becoming popular; but are they best for trucks? 7/1/2019 Friday Short Haul - Skills test proposal, driver shortage, hemp sentencing, driverless trucks 6/28/2019 Experts warn of active wildland fire season 6/26/2019 More states signing on to enlist truckers against human trafficking 6/24/2019 Friday Short Haul - Shippers of Choice, insurance rates, wheel spikes, WIT award 6/21/2019 Freight numbers not holding up to 2018's highs 6/19/2019 Truck safety group urges purges of drug abuse drivers 6/17/2019 Friday Short Haul - Self-driving certificate, truck platooning, trade war stacking up cargo 6/14/2019 HOS waiver coming soon for fireworks haulers 6/12/2019 FMCSA takes a further look at detention time 6/10/2019 Friday Short Haul - Autonomous delivery, HOS rules changes, CDL retest 6/7/2019 Roadcheck 2019 in effect this week 6/5/2019 Hemp arrest prompts USDA memo 6/3/2019 Friday Short Haul - Waymo big rigs, Move over sting, Under-21 comments 5/31/2019 Severe weather prompts renewed emergency declaration 5/29/2019 Memorial Day holiday is prime time for cargo thefts 5/25/2019 Friday Short Haul - Hauling hemp, road rage fatality, new rules for autonomous vehicles 5/24/2019 Autonomous trucks on USPS test run 5/22/2019 Future era of cab-less trucks will be the end of HOS rules 5/20/2019 Friday Short Haul - FMCSA under-21 comments, Tesla autonomous car crash, 24,000 drivers sign contract with YRC 5/17/2019 Under-21 interstate drivers getting serious look by FMCSA 5/15/2019 Trucker Buddy program matches drivers with a classroom; everyone wins 5/13/2019 Friday Short Haul - Driver awarded $80 million, ODFL driver wins, loading dock black hole 5/10/2019 Storm breaks out from Rockies, slams into Midwest, South 5/8/2019 Capacity issues have shippers looking at private fleets 5/6/2019 Friday Short Haul - HOS rules, dark skies, Falcon drivers 5/3/2019 'Bug' permits now required for four eastern states 5/1/2019 Simulator use is catching on for schools, carriers 4/29/2019 Friday Short Haul - Thinking electric, Penske opens charging station, border crossing crisis, railroads taking trucking business 4/26/2019 ELDs might not be the panacea that was hoped for 4/24/2019 Truck drivers may soon see "phantoms" driving yard trucks 4/22/2019 Friday Short Haul - Nikola big rigs, WIT welcomes Peterbilt, Oregon crashes, Border crossings 4/19/2019 Carriers claim financial benefit of putting up drivers in hotels 4/17/2019 Uber's IPO application reveals interesting data about its freight brokerage business 4/15/2019 Friday Short Haul - CDL examiner arrested, tolls proposed for trucks, marijuana use on the rise 4/12/2019 Smart Load Board will get carriers the loads they need 4/10/2019 Huge lines and long wait times greet carriers at Mexico border 4/8/2019 Friday Short Haul - Marijuana, ATA campaign, personal conveyance rules 4/5/2019 Over-the-air downloads revolutionize parameter updates 4/3/2019 Don't get scammed by skimmers 4/1/2019 Friday Short Haul -- New Cascadias honored, motorist survey, U.S, Xpress awarded, rest stop parking 3/29/2019 Legislators address underride collisions, propose more underguards for trucks, trailers 3/27/2019 Motorists soon may encounter a different kind of truck convoy 3/25/2019 Friday Short Haul -- Women in Trucking, irate motorist, FMCSA eases HOS, Safe-Cap 3/22/2019 Recent survey shows cost of roadside repairs is rising 3/20/2019 FMCSA announces drug and alcohol clearinghouse website 3/18/2019 Friday Short Haul - Swift settlement, driver shortage myth, TCA Best Fleet award 3/15/2019 The hidden danger of looking but not seeing 3/13/2019 Accident scammers target trucks for financial payout 3/11/2019 3/9/2019 3/9/2019 Friday Short Haul - Snow on the roof, bypassing toll road, Waze under fire 3/8/2019 Retailers blame driver shortage for price increases 3/6/2019 Drivers' smartphones may be clue to road roughness 3/4/2019 Friday Short Haul -- Freight rates, HOS changes, tonnage reports 3/1/2019 New tax changes hit drivers hard 2/27/2019 FMCSA to implement under-21 interstate driver program for former military 2/25/2019 Friday Short Haul -- Connecticut tolls proposed, hydrogen fuel-cell trucks, cell phone use 2/22/2019 Congress committee looks at state of America's highways 2/20/2019 Number of cargo thefts is down; but dollar value about the same 2/18/2019 Friday Short Haul -- Crossing the border, CA sues FMCSA, Lobbying against larger trucks 2/15/2019 Detention - A problem still in search of a solution 2/13/2019 February Highway Angels honorees named 2/11/2019 Friday Short Haul -- C.R. England announces pay raises, eCommerce impact on trucking, TCA announces best fleets 2/8/2019 Is a guaranteed minimum pay the solution to the driver shortage? 2/6/2019 Long CDL testing wait times cost economy billions of dollars; not helping driver shortage 2/4/2019 Friday Short Haul -- Walmart hiring, Uber Freight App, Speed-limiter Law, America's Road Team 2/1/2019 Cranking -- The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly 1/30/2019 California survives challenge to its low-carbon fuel standards 1/28/2019 Friday Short Haul - Highway robbery ... autonomous trucks ... new trailers 1/25/2019 LithiumHub enters jump-starter market with Jumpbooster JP30 1/23/2019 2019 Looks Good For The Transportation Industry 1/21/2019 Raymond Burt named TMC Trainer of the Month for February 2018 3/28/2018 TMC Transportation Announces Recipient of Prestigious Wheel Master Award 3/7/2018 TMC Transportation Named The Home Depot’s Flatbed Carrier of the Year For Fourth Straight Year 2/28/2018 Pay Raises & New Peterbilts for PAM Drivers 2/26/2018 New DOT Drug Testing Rules Effective Jan 1, 2018 1/11/2018 Amtrak Derailment: Trucks Haul 270,000 Pound Locomotive Engine During Cleanup 12/21/2017 Pepsi Places Largest Order Yet For Tesla Electric Trucks 12/12/2017 Kavin Hallett named Trainer of the Month for October 2017 12/8/2017 Over 100,000 Truck Drivers Likely Have Undiagnosed Sleep Apnea And More Testing Is On The Way 8/10/2017 Drivers Share Their Best Tips, Tricks, And Secrets For Life On The Road 7/18/2017 Drivers Are Losing Money By Taking The Wrong Approach 7/13/2017 Truckers and Guns: What Is and Is Not Legal 7/6/2017 Preparing To Go Solo For The First Time? Experienced Drivers Share Their Best Advice 6/29/2017 The Truck Stop Survival Guide: Advice From Experienced Drivers 6/15/2017 The Worst Cities For Traffic In The U.S. For 2017 6/8/2017 We Ask Drivers How They Would Make The Logbook Rules Better 5/30/2017 Self Driving Trucks Are Not Coming Anytime Soon 5/25/2017 11/30/-0001

Congress committee looks at state of America's highways

Dave Wickenhauser on Wed, February 20, 2019

Last Updated: Tue, February 19, 2019

That America's roadways are a deteriorating mess is no surprise to anybody who has sat behind a wheel any time recently. But the problems of our nation's crumbling infrastructure go far beyond just the discomfort of a jarring ride. Simply put, many believe our country's economic health demands that our roads get an upgrade.

Toward that end, the United States Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation recently invited transportation industry principals to meet with the committee for a hearing titled, "America's Infrastructure Needs: Keeping Pace with a Growing Economy."

One of the key witnesses during the hearing, American Trucking Associations President and CEO Chris Spear, gave the committee his blunt assessment.

“We are no longer facing a future highway maintenance crisis – we’re living it – and every day we fail to invest, we’re putting more lives at risk,” he said, noting that earlier this month California and Massachusetts drivers traveling under bridges were struck by chunks of falling concrete.

Spear was there to tell the committee that the solution is to find new revenue for infrastructure upgrades, and that he recommends a fuel price increase at the terminal fuel rack.

He was not alone in supporting a fuel tax increase. All of the witnesses were in favor of a federal gas tax to fund infrastructure repairs.

Testifying before the committee during the February 13 hearing were:

  • William Friedman, Chairman of the American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA), President and CEO of the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority;
  • Ian Jefferies, President and CEO of the Association of American Railroads (AAR);
  • Matthew Polka, President and CEO of the American Cable Association (ACA);
  • Chris Spear, President and CEO of the American Trucking Association (ATA); and
  • Larry Willis, President of Transportation Trades Department at AFL-CIO.

Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, was unique on the committee in objecting to a fuel tax increase, citing its impact on lower-income families and rural residents. “We ought to look for ways that don’t involve raising taxes on poor families,” Lee said.

Accordingly, a VMT tax – vehicle miles traveled tax – is being looked into.

In opening the hearing, Committee Chairman Roger Wicker (R-MS) laid out the situation. He stated that the American Society of Civil Engineers has given America's infrastructure a grade of D+. Ports are congested, and Americans spend some 8 billion hours a year stuck in traffic. Just in his state, Mississippi, thousands of bridges are in need of repair, he said.

He then expressed his challenge to the committee for a solution:

"Fortunately, improving our infrastructure is an area where bipartisan agreement and cooperation can be found,” and “Given its jurisdiction, this committee is in a unique position to examine how technology, including advances in automation, artificial intelligence, and connectivity, can revolutionize transportation and mobility for the 21st Century.”

ATA's Spear brought some numbers to the committee to explain just how badly the crumbling infrastructure is affecting the economy … hurting American's in their pocketbooks, and significantly impacting the trucking industry.

“Trucking now loses $74.5 billion sitting in gridlock. That equates to 1.2 billion lost hours or 425,000 truck drivers sitting idle for an entire year,” he said. “These are the regressive costs of doing nothing. And they are reflected in the prices we all pay. These costs to consumers and economy are measurable … and they can and should serve as offsets for new spending on our nation’s infrastructure. The road system is rapidly deteriorating and costs the average motorist nearly $1,600 a year in higher maintenance and congestion expenses.”

He emphasized that most of the total truck congestion is concentrated in a small percentage of highway miles, and that the bottlenecks are easily identified. In fact, the American Transportation Research Institute releases an annual report on where these bottlenecks are.

Source: ATRI

In 2018 New Jersey had the honor of having the worst bottleneck in the nation – Interstate 95 and Route 4 in Fort Lee.

The others, making up the top 10 major bottlenecks are:

  • 2. Atlanta: I-285 at I-85 (North)
  • 3. Atlanta: I-75 at I-285 (North)
  • 4. Los Angeles: SR 60 at SR 57
  • 5. Houston: I-45 at I-69/US 59
  • 6. Cincinnati: I-71 at I-75
  • 7. Chicago: I-290 at I-90/I-94
  • 8. Nashville: I-24/I-40 at I-440 (East)
  • 9. Atlanta: I-20 at I-285 (West)
  • 10. Los Angeles: I-710 at I-105
  • View the PDF for a comprehensive list of major bottleneck cities.

Spear warned the committee that although rapidly changing technological advances are allowing trucks to operated safer and more efficiently, with the bonus of having less impact on the environment, the lack of improvements and maintenance of the nation's highways will "cancel out entirely the benefits of innovation."

As a solution, Spear touted the Build America Fund; which is a 20-cent-per-gallon fee at the terminal fuel rack. He said this would create billions in revenue as it is phased in over four years.

"Trucking pays for nearly half the Highway Trust Fund, and we’re willing to pay more,” he said. “The Build America Fund would increase the price of fuel 20 cents per gallon at the fuel rack – just a nickel a year over four years – generating $340 billion over 10 years. This new revenue is real, not fake funding like P3’s and asset recycling.

“The Build America Fund is the most conservative proposal… costing less than .01 cent on the dollar to administer, versus up to .35 cents a dollar for tolling schemes,” Spear added.

In closing, Spear emphasized that the ATA supports efforts to develop policies benefiting Americans and the trucking industry.

“We are at a critical point in our country’s history, and the decisions made by this committee over the next few months will impact the safety and efficiency of freight transportation for generations,” Spear said.

Other concerns

In addition to the critical infrastructure concerns, there were other issues brought up during the committee hearing.

Among them was the truck parking shortage, and the ongoing discussions about lowering the minimum age for acquiring a CDL to drive interstate in order to reduce the driver shortage problem. Both were addressed by representatives of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association.

“We appreciate some of the witnesses highlighting the truck parking crisis,” said Todd Spencer, OOIDA president. “For too long, Congress and federal transportation agencies have done very little to address this issue. Truckers need more safe places to park, not more studies that do nothing to increase or preserve capacity. This is a critical highway safety issue that deserves dedicated federal funding.”

ATA's Spear echoed those thoughts, supporting funding especially for solving the truck parking shortage.

“Therefore, we support the creation of a new discretionary grant program with dedicated funding from the federal-aid highway program for truck parking capital projects,” Spear said.

OOIDA's Spencer then objected to suggestions by other transportation industry leaders to lower the minimum interstate driving age from 21 to 18, and even went so far as to disagree that there is really a driver shortage.

“If safety is the top priority when considering a change to a regulation, when it comes to age, the number should be raised, not lowered,” said Spencer. “We also disagree that there is a driver shortage. There is very high turnover, or churn, but no shortage.” He said that claims of a driver shortage are "mythical."

“Most carriers with high turnover do so by design,” said Spencer. “They could deal with driver turnover by offering better wages and benefits and improved working conditions. But putting younger drivers behind the wheel of a truck isn’t the solution because it does nothing to address the underlying issues that push drivers out of the industry. It merely exacerbates the churn.”

Whatever the outcome of this recent hearing it's clear that transportation industry leaders and government officials are eager to get together to talk about lasting improvements to the infrastructure and to create new ways for the funding to pay for them.

Sources: Infrastructure Report Card, The Trucker, ATRI, Bulk Transporter, Land Line Mag

Tagged Under:

Adverse Conditions Owner Operator The Economy And Politics Truck Stops Trucking Industry Concerns

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