Supporters, opponents clash over proposed Connecticut tolls

From the Hartford Courant.

Numerous key questions remain, including which highways will have tolls, the locations, the price at each tolling location, the potential discounts for Connecticut drivers, and how much the fares would be reduced during off-peak hours.

No votes were taken Wednesday, and the committee is facing of deadline of March 23 to act on tolls.

Opponents submitted written testimony that questioned Malloy’s overall plan of installing tolls and increasing the state’s gasoline tax by 7 cents per gallon over four years.

Joseph R. Sculley, president of the state trucking association, said that the two-tier gasoline tax, including a gross receipts tax on petroleum, pushed the overall tax on gasoline in January to 39 cents per gallon. He added that Connecticut is different from other states.

“The fact is there is no comparison between the Mass Pike, for example, and interstate highways in Connecticut,’’ Sculley said. “The Mass. Pike was built with tolls. The tolls were not installed on the highway decades after the fact. All that the Mass. Pike did was simply swap toll booths for electronic tolls.’

See the full story from the Hartford Courant.

Limited Hours of Service Waiver for transportation of fuel

Due to extreme cold weather, the Connecticut Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) has issued a limited waiver from federal Hours of Service rules for carriers making local fuel deliveries to homes and businesses. The waiver was granted in response to a request filed jointly by MTAC, Connecticut Energy Marketers Association (CEMA), and Propane Gas Association of New England (PGANE).

The waiver only applies while carriers are providing direct assistance via intrastate transportation of diesel fuel, heating oil, kerosene, propane, and gasoline to homes and businesses. The limited waiver is effective from Dec. 28, 2017 to Jan. 19, 2018 at 11:59 p.m.

Click here to see a copy of the notice from DMV. Members with operations impacted by this waiver should keep a copy of the notice from DMV in their trucks while the waiver is in effect.

Crash preventability demonstration program

From the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

On July 27, 2017, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) published a Federal Register notice announcing a 24-month Crash Preventability Demonstration Program to review the preventability of certain crashes.

Starting August 1, 2017, FMCSA will begin accepting Requests for Data Review (RDRs) in its DataQs system for certain crashes occurring on or after June 1, 2017.  Information on the specific crash types that are eligible, the steps for submitting RDRs, and the process for making determinations can be found here.  Motor carriers or drivers must submit compelling information and documentation to show that the crash was not preventable.  Suggested documentation/evidence includes, but is not limited to, police accident reports, insurance documents, videos, and other documents described in the Federal Register notice.

During the Crash Preventability Demonstration Program, FMCSA will continue to list all crashes on the public Safety Measurement System (SMS) website.  However, a crash with a final determination will appear with a note that FMCSA reviewed the crash and determined it was either Preventable or Not Preventable – or in some cases, Undecided, if FMCSA could not make a conclusive determination based on the evidence provided.  The Crash Indicator BASIC percentiles will remain unavailable on the public view of FMCSA’s SMS website.  For enforcement officials or carriers logged in and viewing their own profiles, two Crash Indicator BASIC percentiles will be calculated if there are Not Preventable final determinations – one with the Not Preventable crashes and one without.


Bestpass surpasses $450 Million in toll volume, completes national tolling solution

From Bestpass blog post:

Bestpass, Inc., a company that provides single-source payment and streamlined toll management services to commercial fleets, reached several significant milestones in 2016, including expanding toll coverage to include Oklahoma and completing the first truly national tolling solution for commercial fleets; hiring 13 new employees; and adding more than 1,000 new accounts and more than 100,000 new active transponders.

The company, now with 50 employees, processes more than $1.2 million in tolls per day for more than 3,700 customers in the United States and Canada with more than 295,000 active transponders. Total toll volume processed in 2016 surpassed $450 million.

“Everything that we’ve accomplished this year shows the value of our toll management service and our solid position as the toll experts for commercial fleets,” said John Andrews, President and CEO of Bestpass. “We are incredibly proud of what we’ve done, and we are excited to build upon this momentum to continue to grow the company next year while still providing top-notch service to our customers.”

See the full post from Bestpass online.

Note from MTAC: BestPass is a valued MTAC partner, and as such, members can access these toll savings. MTAC members can even get discounted activation fees when signing up with BestPass. For questions on how to get involved, contact MTAC, or contact BestPass directly to take advantage of our partnership.

That bubbling sound coming from US factories may be inflation

Except from Transport Topics via Bloomberg:

Champagne wasn’t the only thing bubbling at the start of 2017 for U.S. manufacturers. So was inflation, a potential warning sign in an otherwise broadly positive report on American factories.

The Institute for Supply Management said Jan. 3 that its index of manufacturing increased for a fourth straight month, reaching a two-year high of 54.7, as new orders surged by the most since the summer of 2009 on stronger overseas and domestic demand. Percolating sales were evident in the group’s gauge of prices paid for raw materials, which advanced to 65.5, the highest level since June 2011.

While the ISM sub-indexes can be volatile, the jump in prices caught the eye of factory managers and analysts, with survey chairman Bradley Holcomb noting it was “clearly something to watch” at the beginning of the year. A broad-based increase in costs of inputs for production corroborates signs of higher consumer inflation. The personal consumption expenditures price index — the Federal Reserve’s preferred gauge — is up 1.4% on a year-over-year basis, the fastest gain since 2014.

See the full article online here.

TrucBrush offers 10% discount to MTAC members

TrucBrush unit installedMTAC associate member, TrucBrush Corporation, is generously offering MTAC members a 10% discount when purchasing their patented, mobile snow-removal device. TrucBrush is a polypropylene-bristled broom powered by a front-end loader that clears accumulated snow off the tops of trucks, trailers and buses faster, safer and more effectively than other methods. The unit is available for purchase, rent, or companies may hire a snow service vendor to provide the service.


TrucBrush service is easily implemented into a company’s snow management protocol with either the snow contractor providing the service, a Preferred Vendor offering it in conjunction with a facility’s overall snow management or the facility itself implementing the snow removal method. TrucBrush improves deployment time during a period when a facility needs it the most. It increases operational efficiencies by allowing the same equipment that operates TrucBrush for clearing snow off the fleet’s rooftops to be utilized for terminal and parking lot clearing of snow if desired. When TrucBrush is coordinated with a facility’s overall snow management, bay areas can also be cleared of snow before melting and refreeze occurs that is so common at docks. This adds to your overall safety initiatives.

For more information contact Debora Babin Katz by phone at (877) 783-0237 or via email.

This is a great product that can be used to comply with Connecticut’s law requiring the removal of accumulated snow and ice from all vehicles.

Certified Medical Examiner Changes

There are some upcoming rule changes that will affect Certified Medical Examiners, the drivers they examine, and the FMCSA form required for the examinations. The changes stem from an April 23, 2015 rule published by FMCSA. The rule requires – among other things – that, beginning Dec. 22, 2015, medical examiners will be required to report results of examinations using a revised form MCSA-5850.

Reference Documents

I-84 Hartford Viaduct Replacement

This week, MTAC staff attended multiple meetings regarding the planned replacement of the elevated Interstate 84 Viaduct that runs through Hartford. Replacement and reconstruction of the two-plus mile long stretch of the main highway, and the accompanying on/off ramp bridges connected to that area, is necessary because the elevated highway and on/off ramps have reached the end of their useful life.

Engineering consultants are currently considering four main options, which include: a no-build option, an elevated highway, a lowered highway, and a tunnel. Each of those options have a number of different sub-options, for example, different configurations of on/off ramps for each. Consultants presented maps showing the results of traffic simulations for not only the highway, but key city streets and intersections, for various proposals. It should be noted that the tunnel option is not only very costly, but would create major congestion on the highway and on several major city streets and intersections. The tunnel option could also effectively ban hazmat trucks from traveling on that section of I-84, meaning that several MTAC member companies would face a great burden as they deliver fuel to heat homes, businesses, and for resale at gas stations.

MTAC members need to be aware that one option for “accelerated construction” of the project would be to completely shut down that stretch of I-84 for more than one year. Consultants and government officials working on the project stated that the idea is “thinking outside the box” and that is “a long shot,” yet they also referenced on multiple occasions the fact that it was done for projects in St. Louis, Mo. and Knoxville, Tenn. Needless to say, completely shutting down the highway would create dire consequences for members.

It is also important to note that as part of the project, multiple on/off ramps would be eliminated, because engineers and consultants believe there are too many in a short distance, which contributes to congestion. Importantly, the project would not relieve congestion at that I-84 / I-91 interchange, because it won’t eliminate the choke point where three lanes are reduced to two lanes in both directions. Through-put will not be increased.

MTAC members should attend I-84 project meetings in the future if possible. Several were in attendance this week, and they were able to provide real-world examples of the challenges faced by their companies, and how this project would further complicate those challenges. MTAC appreciates the members that were able to attend the meeting this week and provide valuable comments, specifically: Bozzuto’s, Coastal Carriers, FedEx, UPS, Walker Crane, and XPO Logistics.

Consultants and government officials took note of the concrete examples provided by MTAC members. MTAC and its members need to continue to provide valuable information like that in order to have our concerns addressed during this project.

For more information, visit the project website.

MTAC launches social media sites

MTAC has created Facebook and Twitter social media accounts!

Members are encouraged to use their company Facebook accounts to “Like” the MTAC Facebook page, and then like, share, and comment on posts made by MTAC. Employees of member companies are also invited to “Like” the page, and then like, share, and comment on MTAC posts.

The same can be done for Twitter; company pages should follow the MTAC feed, then retweet and favorite MTAC tweets. Employees should use their individual accounts to do the same.

Social media is a great tool that can help spread the word about MTAC, attract new members, and even let legislators and government leaders know that MTAC members are passionate about the industry and any public policy that affects it.