Can you believe how much bad roads cost Texas drivers?

Dallas Texas TrafficBad road conditions are costing the average Texas driver in the Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington area more than $1700 a year. The report, released by TRIP (a national transportation organization), claims deficient roads, heavy traffic and high operating costs are taking its toll on Texas drivers.

The report claims nearly one-fifth of bridges in Texas are in need of replacement or repair. TRIP also says 16 percent of the state’s urban roads and highways are in need of improvement.

The Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington road conditions cost the average area driver $1740 per year thanks to vehicle operating costs from driving on bad roads, lost time and fuel due to heavy traffic, and unfortunate traffic accidents.

According to the report the average area driver pays $508 each year in vehicle operating costs, which includes accelerated vehicle depreciation and tire wear. Driving in the area costs area drivers an additional $957 annually due to lost time and fuel from traffic congestion.

“These high costs are like a hidden tax on our motorists; we’d all be better off investing a little more in improving our transportation infrastructure and avoiding these costs,” said Tarrant County Commissioner Gary Fickes, chairman of the Tarrant Regional Transportation Coalition.

Traffic crashes in Texas have claimed the lives of 16,041 people between 2009 and 2013.

VIDEO: Watch time-lapse of I-84 bridge replacement

I84 bridge replacementConnecticut Governor Dannel P. Malloy’s office released the below video which features a bridge replacement project on Interstate 84 in Southington.

The project costed $6 million using a process known as accelerated bridge construction (ABC). During the process the new bridge is built on-site next to the old one, then swapped into place once complete.

Thanks to ABC, the highway was only shut down for one weekend during the replacement process.

“This project not only demonstrates the unprecedented investments we are making to improve and modernize our transportation infrastructure but also the steps we are taking to ensure these kinds of projects are completed ahead of schedule and with as little interruption as possible to area residents and travelers,” Malloy said in a statement. “By employing ABC principles, CTDOT took a creative approach to virtually eliminate what would have been many months or even years of traffic disruptions and congestion on I-84 and the local roads surrounding the project.”

22 states represented at transportation advocacy workshop

ARTBA national workshop for state and local transportation22 states participated in the inaugural “National Workshop for State and Local Transportation Advocates,” held at the Washington Court Hotel. In addition to state representatives, the workshop also attracted transportation construction executives and “better roads and transportation” professionals.

The purpose of the workshop is to build coalitions and develop strong relationships with governor, state legislators and public agency officials. The common goal is to create a communications plan that delivers messages to the public about the value of infrastructure improvement.

During the workshop ARTBA Chief Economist Dr. Alison Premo Black highlighted trends in state transportation investment initiatives since 2000.  Public affairs executives and policy shapers detailed “what worked” and “lessons learned” on legislative proposals in Virginia and Pennsylvania, and ballot initiatives in Georgia and Arkansas.

Meanwhile Oregon State Senator Bruce Starr offered participants advice on how to make transportation investment a top priority for elected officials.

Towards the end of the workshop ARTBA Executive Vice President & Chief Operating Officer Bill Toohey announced the launch of a Transportation Investment Advocates Council. It will create a network of advocates throughout the country to share experiences and best practices.black

Illinois Governor signs $1B plan for road repairs

Pat_quinn_governor_of_illinoisIllinois Gov. Pat Quinn has signed a $1 billion capital spending plan, intended to create jobs and help repair the state’s roads and bridges.

Transportation officials claim the money will go toward “shovel ready” road projects scheduled to take place this summer. Quinn estimates the 210 road projects will create around 14,300 jobs.

Most of the work will include resurfacing portions of major roadways, including Interstates 55 and 72. Some bridges need to be repaired as well.

“It is imperative for all of us that we make investments to make sure we take good care of these roads and bridges, relieve congestions, get people to their destination as quickly as possible, as safely as possible,” Quinn said.

The repair plan will be paid for by selling bonds and paying back the loan with revenue from retired bonds. Some proposed paying for the road work with a fuel tax increase, but that plan was opposed by gas station owners claiming the state’s fuel tax is already too high.

Future for trucking bright? ATA predicts so

ATA's predictions on regional freight movement in the U.S.

ATA’s predictions on regional freight movement in the U.S.

Trucking will see continued growth both in freight and revenue in the next 10 years, according to the American Trucking Associations’ U.S. Freight Transportation Forecast to 2025.

Between now and 2025, tonnage will grow 23.5 percent, ATA predicts, while freight revenues are predicted to grow a whopping 72 percent.

However, adaptation by carriers will be key to enjoying the boom, says ATA, as regional growth patterns, technological changes and the evolution of manufacturing and distribution will make the industry more complex. Carriers that become “True logistics experts” will be the ones that come out on top, ATA’s report says.

The report also predicts that truck’s share of freight will continue to grow in the next 10 years, though by just a few percentage points — from 69.1 to 71.4.

Truckload volume will grow by about 3.5 percent a year through 2019 and then 1.2 percent annually in the next five years, the report predicts. But truckload carriers will use intermodal rail for longer hauls.

ATA’s Forecast can be purchased as a bound volume or a downloadable PDF at www.atabusinesssolutions.com.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally written by the staff of Overdrive Online.

4 dead after semi hits stopped vehicles

CT truck-crash04.jpg

The aftermath of a truck accident that resulted in four fatalities. — Alex Garcia, Chicago Tribune.

Four people, including an 11-year-old girl, are dead after the driver of a semi-truck hit three stopped vehicles on Interstate 55 in Illinois. Four people who were in stopped vehicles due to traffic were killed.

The names of the victims are: Ulrike P. Blopleh, 48, of Channahon; Vicky L. Palacios, 54, of Coal City; Kimberly K. Britton, 43, of Urbana; and Piper Britton, 11, also of Urbana.

Four other people were injured in the crash and taken to local hospitals.

The 51-year-old semi driver, Francisco Espinal-Quiroz, of Leesburg, Ind, has been charged with keeping a false log book and willfully entering false information. He was driving for Espinal Trucking, a one-truck, one-driver operation owned by Espinal-Quiroz. His company has no history of previous crashes.

Francisco Espinal Quiroz, 51, caused a crash that killed four people. Photo: Will County Sheriff's Department

Francisco Espinal Quiroz, 51, caused a crash that killed four people. Photo: Will County Sheriff’s Department

State police district commander Randy Ness says the truck was passing vehicles in the left lane when he abruptly made a lane change striking the read of one of the vehicles and “pushing them all together.”

“Witnesses …said the truck was driving at a high rate of speed and the traffic was all at a dead stop as it was merging,” Ness said.

Later in the day there was a second accident on the same interstate involving one semi rear-ending another. Both truck drivers were taken to hospitals – one has died.

The driver who died was identified as Deividas Mockus, 41, of Darien.

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

al-yankovic-600x450 weird alThese 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?

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