Several deficiencies exposed in Skagit River Bridge collapse

Photo: Dusty Starling/Twitter

Photo: Dusty Starling/Twitter

Several deficiencies have been exposed following the collapse of Skagit River Bridge on Interstate-5 near Mt. Vernon, Wash. The collapse happened when the bridge was struck by a truck carrying an oversized load.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) found a series of problems after investigating the collapse. First and foremost, the driver of the truck failed to perform basic safety functions, including proper route planning.

However, the NTSB was especially concerned with the lack of low-clearance warning signs for the bridge. In addition to the Skagit River Bridge, Washington State has several other bridges in its interstate system, similar to the Skagit River bridge, and none have low-clearance signs. Nor are there any signs indicating what lane oversized vehicles should use.

“We appreciate the work of the NTSB and its recommendations,” said Washington Secretary of Transportation Lynn Peterson in a statement. “WSDOT has already begun acting on NTSB’s recommendations for improving access to data for the freight industry to better plan travel routes of oversized loads. We will work to enact all of its recommendations and will continue to work closely with the Washington State Legislature and freight industry on the recommendations that require legislative action.”

Of course that doesn’t mean the truck driver, and trucking company, doesn’t deserve some of the blame.  Mullen Trucking had obtained the proper permits for the trip, but failed to check and plan for low clearances for the route.

Two passenger vehicles and a camper-trailer fell into the river when the bridge collapsed and two other vehicles were damaged in the accident. Luckily none of the eight vehicle occupants were seriously injured.

[VIDEO] A theme song for handymen everywhere

These days their are songs about almost anything you could possibly think of. But what about us handymen? There are no songs to honor our hard work and determination to do-it-ourselves instead of seeking out “professional” help.

…Until now!

Thanks to parody king Weird Al Yankovic, handymen all across the globe now have their own theme song.

The song, entitled “Handy,” is a parody of hit pop song “Fancy” by Iggy Azalea. If you’ve never heard of her before, no worries – it’s not important. The point is, it’s about time handymen get the respect they deserve with a relatable theme song – even if it is super corny.

Drivers sue FMCSA over pre-employment report information

Indiana State Trooper inspection under truck

Six drivers have filed a class-action lawsuit against the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration claiming the agency “disparaged” their safety records and diminished their value as truck drivers by oversharing information on their Pre-Employment Screening Program reports.

The drivers are seeking statutory damages of $1,000 per alleged violation for themselves and every member of the class, members of which would be determined by the court if the drivers win their suit.

FMCSA says per its policy it does not comment on pending litigation.

The suit — which also names the Department of Transportation and the U.S. federal government as defendants — claims FMCSA “intentionally and willfully” sent reports to potential employers that overstepped the premise of the PSP reports.

According to claims in the court documents, PSP reports are only to contain accident reports and “reports of serious driver-related safety violations.”

The reports, which carriers obtain from FMCSA, are related to the agency’s Compliance, Safety, Accountability program and draw upon the agency’s Motor Carrier Management Information System. They include three years’ worth of inspection data and five years’ of crashes.

PSP reports for the six drivers filing the suit, along with other potential members of the class, contained “violations of law not determined by the Secretary [of Transportation] to be ‘serious driver related violations’ under circumstances where motor carriers are entitled only to receive ‘serious driver-related safety violation inspection reports,’” according to the lawsuit.

The inclusion of such information also violates the 1974 Privacy Act, the suit alleges, in addition to damaging drivers’ reputation, hurting their earning potential and their employment prospects.

The six driver plaintiffs are Thomas Flock of Nebo, Ill.; Dennis Thompson of Mauk, Ga.; Thomas Gooden of Hudson, Fla.; Douglas Heisler of Peach Bottom, Pa.; Walter Johnson of Lawrence, Mass.; and Gayla Kyle of Ogden, Kan.

Their PSP reports included violations like excessive weight, speeding in the 6-10 mph range, failure to use a seatbelt, use of a radar detector, violations of hours rules, incorrect logs, failure to use hazard warning flashers and unlawful parking.

Overdrive’s 2014 CSA survey shows independents are most concerned about reliability of scores, but the system’s many flaws haven’t halted third-party use of the rankings in business decisions.

The drivers claim in their suit these are not “serious driver-related violations,” according to the DOT’s determination.

‘[FMCSA’s] conduct is in flagrant disregard of the statutory rights of the plaintiff drivers and other similarly situated,” the suit reads. “The intentional and willful disparagement of driver qualifications violates the rights of commercial motor vehicle drivers under the Privacy Act. Such disparagement has a negative economic or pecuniary impact on” the drivers.

The class members would include, according to the suit, anyone who FMCSA has “collected, maintained and transmitted for dissemination” under the PSP inspection reports that have violations listed that are not deemed “serious driver-related safety violations.”

In addition to the damages of $1,000 per violation, the plaintiffs also are seeking cost of litigation and attorney’s fees and to establish a fund to pay damages to the class.

This article was written by Overdrive Online associate editor James Jaillet.

President Obama to urge for private investments

ObamaIf a multiyear solution to the Highway Trust Fund is unable to be reached, President Barack Obama will look into private investors to help fix roads and bridges around the country. That would likely mean more tolls for drivers as companies will look for ways to profit off of their investments.

“There are lots of investors who want to back infrastructure projects because, when it’s done right, they then get a steady, long-term investment,” Obama said. “They get a steady return.”

According to U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, there are a lot of international investors who would love to get into the U.S. market. If the United States is actually willing to accept private funding, there would be plenty of money to help improve roads and bridges around the country.

“We have trillions of dollars on the sidelines internationally that could be put to work,” Foxx said.

Do you think the United States should accept private funding?

'Sweet Home Alabama' welcomes travelers

…Sweet home Alabama, where the skies are so blue. Sweet home Alabama, Lord, I’m coming home to you…

Photo: Lloyd Gallman — AP

Photo: Lloyd Gallman — AP

Lynyrd Skynyrd first sung those lyrics forty years ago and the song has been embraced by the state ever since. The catchy tune likely played a part in Alabama Legislature approving a bill selecting “Sweet Home Alabama” as its official marketing slogan.

The slogan “Welcome to Sweet Home Alabama” will be placed on green and white signs to be posted on interstate highways at the state line. Smaller versions of the highway signs will be placed on the grounds of eight welcome centers for Alabama Tourism as the perfect backdrop for people wanting to take photos.

Since 2003 the state’s welcome signs featured the phrase “Alabama the Beautiful.” It will cost the tourism department $61,000 to replace the signs.

Trucking parking bans instituted in Washington state

Washington’s Pierce County became the state’s second county this month to bar truck parking on residential streets in unincorporated areas.

Pierce County commissioners voted 7-1 for banning trucks with gross vehicle weights exceeding 10,001 pounds and trailers longer than 20 feet from parking on neighborhood streets between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. The ordinance institutes a $175 penalty for violators and hikes the fine for other parking violations from $25 to $50.

County residents had complained commercial trucks and trailers were being parked and stored in the public right of way in residential areas. This limits sight distance, use of the shoulder and presents noise issues, according to a county staff report.

Most Pierce County cities prohibit parking large vehicles in residential areas, with fines ranging from $250 in Tacoma to $25 in Auburn.

The report notes the ban will further exacerbate Puget Sound’s truck parking shortage, especially with last year’s change in hours-of-service regulations. A 2005 state transportation department study concluded Interstate 5 rest areas and truck stops were near or exceeding capacity.

One trucker told commissioners the ordinance does not consider the difficulty balancing HOS restrictions, insufficient parking and travel time between truck stops. Truckers have great difficulty finding open spaces at truck stop, especially after 3 p.m., she stated.

Pierce County allows commercial trucks with GVW of less than 18,000 pounds to be parked within driveways or another location designed for vehicle parking. Trucks with GVW of less than 30,000 pounds can be parked on lots larger than 5 acres in rural zones.

Earlier this month, Franklin County passed an ordinance banning trucks from residential street parking in unincorporated areas. Trucks weighing more than 14,000 pounds may only be parked in these areas if making deliveries, according to media reports.

This post was written by Jill Dunn at EquipmentWorld.com

5 freeway bridges in need of repair following accident

140711_truck_overpasses_660A truck hauling an excavator caused some major problems for the Washington State Department of Transportation after colliding with five freeway overpasses. Cost of the repairs have not yet been determined, but all five bridges will need to be repaired.

“It’s too early to say how much the repairs will cost,” Doug Adamson, WSDOT spokesman said. “And WSDOT will seek to cover the bills from the party responsible for the damage.”

Ri2IX.AuSt.5-2

The driver, George Russell, 45, was driving a 1994 Kenworth dump truck hauling an excavator  southbound on U.S. Highway 101 when the excavator’s boom crashed into the first overpass. He continues driving southbound in Interstate 5, hitting four other overpasses.

Russell says he pulled over at one point after feeling some “surges” but he was unaware that he hit anything and kept driving.

Two vehicles struck by debris from the collisions ended up with flat tires. Luckily no injuries were reported.

Although all five bridges are in need of repair, no traffic restrictions were placed.

“While the five bridges were damaged, it’s very fortunate the truck did not damage the bridges’ main beams — called strands — in any of the overpasses,” Adamson said. “The areas that were damaged were the bottom flanges which are designed to protect the strands.”

VIDEO: Massive steel beam falls off trailer, snatches semi truck onto its side

truck hauling steel beamIt’s a very fortunate thing that the closest third party to this accident was the guy who filmed the whole thing and that he was behind the trailer rather than next to it. There’s no indication where this took place, but a semi truck was hauling a massive steel beam to a jobsite somewhere when everything quickly went wrong. The truck takes a corner and shortly thereafter the trailer wanders left and then dog tracks to the right before colliding with a concrete guardrail. What happens next is pretty terrifying as the beam tips over jerking the truck with it. How could this have prevented? Sound off in the comments below.

This post was written by Wayne Grayson the Online Managing Editor for Equipment World.

Illinois Tollway to launch first ever technology test site

Illinois TollwayThe Illinois Tollway is set to build a “living laboratory” which will serve as a unique test site to improve existing products and study technology advancements.  The test site will immediately focus on smartphone tolling applications and I-Pass transponders to instantly confirm toll payments.

“This project will help us fine tune current technologies to improve their performance and control our costs,” Illinois Tollway Executive Director Kristi Lafleur said. “The test site also will keep the Tollway a leader in the development and implementation of exciting new tolling technologies that will make traveling on our system easier for our customers.”

It will be the first test site of its kind in the entire nation, set to study tolling options in real-world conditions based on a complex mix of vehicles and traffic patterns. If all goes according to plan, it’ll open in 2015.

The site will also study improved camera technology to more accurately capture images of license plates on passing vehicles.

$2.7 million will be required to design, equip and build the test site. It will be accommodated within the Tollway’s current 2014 budget.

Falsework tumbles after sand hauler hits interstate bridge

The falsework around the Perris Boulevard bridge over Interstate 215 in Perris is collapsed onto the freeway after a gravel hauler crashed in the construction zone. - Stan Lim/The Press Enterprise

The falsework around the Perris Boulevard bridge over Interstate 215 in Perris is collapsed onto the freeway after a gravel hauler crashed in the construction zone. – Stan Lim/The Press Enterprise

A sand hauler hit a bridge currently under construction on Interstate 215 in Perris, California, causing lumber and steel beams to collapse onto the freeway.

The semi truck driver lost control and struck a concrete divider along the shoulder. A portion of the truck dragged along the barrier, striking the temporary supports of the bridge which caused a partial collapse of the falsework, Officer Travis Monks, a spokesman for the California Highway Patrol said. The trailer of the sand hauler tipped over, spilling its load.

The driver is not believed to have been under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Thankfully construction crews were not scheduled to work on the bridge until later in the day so nobody was harmed in the accident.  Although the falsework will have to be reconstructed, it is not expected to delay the completion of the bridge.

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