Transportation climate initiative is the wrong policy at the wrong time

Op Ed in CT Mirror by MTAC President Joe Sculley.

As the 2020 legislative session is about to get underway, Connecticut residents and businesses need to be on the lookout for attempts by the legislature to adopt the Transportation Climate Initiative (TCI).

TCI bills itself as a “regional collaboration of 12 Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states and the District of Columbia that seeks to improve transportation, develop the clean energy economy and reduce carbon emissions from the transportation sector.” Those things sound like laudable goals, but they don’t tell nearly the whole story.

The bottom line is that TCI will create a hefty new tax. Some refer to it as a regional carbon tax, others refer to it as a regional gas tax. Connecticut already has two taxes on fuel, and this would be a third. It will drive up the price of gasoline and diesel – on purpose. The goal of policy like this is to make it too expensive for residents to drive cars (or trucks) powered by gasoline or diesel. This is the same idea behind congestion price tolling, which prices drivers off the highway in order to claim that congestion has been reduced. Congestion price tolling has been rejected by the legislature, and the legislature needs to reject the TCI as well.

See the complete Op Ed online.

Democratic leaders meet over governor’s toll proposal

From WFSB.

MTAC President Joe Sculley is featured in this archived news report, which was originally aired on Monday, January 21.

Watch the video online.

Public hearing on tolls next week? Maybe

Excerpt from CT News Junkie.

Looney declined to commit to pulling together a special session before the start of the regular session on Feb. 5.

Asked if he was concerned about Rhode Island’s recent revision to its spending from truck-only tolls, Looney said their plan is still only to have tolls on large trucks on bridges.

Connecticut’s plan is exactly the same as Rhode Island’s when it comes to the size of the trucks it would toll and the number of gantries it expects to erect.

On Monday, Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo’s new budget reduced the amount of toll revenue it planned to use from $25 million to just $8.5 million.

As of last month, five of the 12 planned toll gantries in Rhode Island were in operation. That’s half the number the Rhode Island Department of Transportation had expected under a schedule released back in May.

Connecticut legislative leaders have said they expect Connecticut’s truck-only tolls to raise about $150 million to $175 million per year. That toll revenue is then expected to help Connecticut leverage federal loans.

“Federal loans – if they are even granted – are going to have to be repaid,” said Joe Sculley, president of the Motor Transport Association of Connecticut. “If truck toll revenue is not there, it will have to come from car tolls, or increased income taxes, or sales taxes, or gas taxes, or all of the above.”

Democratic lawmakers have vowed to include language in the legislation that would make it clear they have no intention of tolling passenger vehicles.

See the complete article from CT News Junkie online.

Road To Nowhere: Blumenthal calls for big tech companies to update GPS apps

From WNPR.

According to Blumenthal’s office, one bridge on the Merritt Parkway has been hit nearly 150 times during the past decade. Truck drivers have told state police that “GPS is the No. 1 reason why they were diverted onto the road.”

When truck drivers use smartphone-based navigation apps, they’re at risk of hitting bridges or getting stuck under underpasses, which can create severe traffic delays for miles, much like the ones they sought to avoid on I-95, 91 or other heavily traveled highways.

The Motor Transportation Association of Connecticut represents several small-business trucking companies across the state. President Joe Sculley said the majority of their members use navigation systems by various companies that are either built into the truck or incorporated as an aftermarket device.

“Because they’re based here, they know the roads that they drive on,” Sculley said. “I think that a lot of the systems that we see where trucks wind up on the Merritt are from out-of-state truck drivers who are not using these commercial, truck-specific systems.”

But regardless of where the driver is from when a truck hits a bridge or overpass, an accident can create delays, damaged roadways, and overpasses or result in fatalities.

“I think he’s onto a good idea to work with these companies to build something into their systems,” Sculley said of Blumenthal’s proposal. “With all the capabilities that these companies have, I think it’s probably very easy to do and I think it may come down to being one of the most common-sense solutions towards addressing this problem.”

See the complete article from WNPR online.


Trucking industry pushes back on truck-only tolls proposal

From NBC CT.

MTAC President Joe Sculley is featured in this NBC Connecticut report, which was originally aired on Monday, January 14.

Top Democrats remain optimistic a transportation bill which includes tolls can pass. Republicans are doubtful, and the plan is facing pushback from those tolls would target.

Lamont, lawmakers, answer questions from toll supporters, opponents

From CT Insider.

WESTPORT — Before a generally supportive crowd in a school auditorium, Gov. Ned Lamont on Sunday was greeted warmly for his truck-only tolls proposal, aimed at supporting the state’s infrastructure improvements with a percentage of out-of-state dollars from largely interstate carriers.

During a late afternoon forum in Bedford Middle School, Lamont stressed the need to persuade the Democrat-dominated General Assembly to approve — over unified Republican opposition — his 10-year, $19 billion transit improvement plan, for a variety of economic reasons.

He said that a bill is finally being hammered out by legislative leaders, but declined to predict when the General Assembly might take up the long-simmering issue.

“These are all about good-paying jobs,” Lamont told a crowd of about 400 during a public forum held following an afternoon-long rally of construction workers outside on an unseasonably warm day. “Thousands and thousands of recession-proof, good-paying jobs. It really gets down to how do we pay for this. I think we generally agree on how important it is to fix our transportation system”

Only a few anti-toll advocates seemed to have attended the event, including Joe Sculley, president of the Motor Transportation Association of Connecticut, who stood in front of the school entrance with signs underscoring the more than $17,000 a year the average interstate truck pays in road-use fees.

See the complete article from CT Insider online.

FMCSA seeks comments for new large-truck crash causation study

From Transport Topics.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration on Jan. 14 issued a formal request for public comment on how best to design and conduct a major study to identify factors contributing to all large-truck fatal, injury and tow-away crashes.

The Large Truck Crash Causal Factors Study would replace a 15-year-old crash causation study that the agency has used to buttress some of its policy decisions.

The information request seeks information on how best to balance sample representativeness, comprehensive data sources, ranges of crash types and cost-efficiency.

The request also notes that the study’s methodology should address the use of onboard electronic systems that can generate information about speeding, lane departure, and hard braking. In addition, the study should be designed to yield information that will help FMCSA and the truck safety community identify activities and other measures likely to lead to significant reductions in the frequency, severity and crash rate involving commercial motor vehicles, the pre-publication announcement said.

See the complete article from Transport Topics online.

Updates: Technical issues with Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse

From FMCSA on Jan. 7.

Notice: If you are an employer currently experiencing technical difficulties accessing the Clearinghouse and are unable to conduct required pre-employment queries, you may hire a driver using solely the procedures set forth in 49 CFR 391.23(e). Once FMCSA has determined and announced that users are able to access the Clearinghouse, pre-employment queries must also be conducted as required by section 382.701(a).

This notice is posted on the Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse website.

Clearinghouse Updates Message From FMCSA on Jan. 8.

  • By yesterday afternoon a series of fixes and upgrades were completed.  The servers are running smoothly and there has not been any downtime today.  The registration and reporting functions are working well, with 11,000+ registrants today at this point.
  • The portal authentication function for the Clearinghouse was restored today.  If a carrier is having issues with their portal account (locked out, password issues etc.) they may still register for the Clearinghouse and their account can be linked at a later date.
  • The remaining issue is centering around problems with CDLIS validation that impacts a carrier’s ability to query and drivers to register.  An upgrade to CDLIS will be deployed this evening that hopefully improve this issue.

Note from MTAC: Register to attend the drug and alcohol clearinghouse seminar at the MTAC building on Jan. 28.

Support for truck-only tolls in place, Democrats say

Excerpt from CT Insider article.

One of the chief opponents to tolls, Joe Sculley, president of the Motor Transport Association of Connecticut, representing state trucks, said after the governor’s radio appearance that he believes the arithmetic is wrong in Lamont’s revenue projections.

“Governor Lamont firmly stated on WNPR’s ‘Where We Live’ this morning that truck tolls will raise $186 million per year,” Sculley said in a written statement. “However, the financial pro forma documents released by his administration on December 6, 2019, say they will raise $230.1 million,” Sculley said, stressing that federal loans could be tougher to get if the projections have declined.

After the House and Senate Democrats met, Lamont issued a statement saying he will move quickly toward a final plan. “Connecticut can no longer afford to kick the can down the potholed road,” he said.

See the complete article from CT Insider online.

Lamont to answer public questions on tolls

From Stamford Advocate.

Gov. Ned Lamont will make several public appearances this week to take questions from constituents over his proposed transportation plan, which includes controversial highway tolls.

Lamont will take call-in questions on WNPR’s Where We Live at 9 a.m. Tuesday, and on WTIC 1080 AM at 8 a.m. Thursday. The governor and Transportation Commissioner Joseph Giulietti will also attend a town hall forum in Westport Sunday.

The forum, hosted by state Sen. Will Haskell, D-Westport, and state Rep. Jonathan Steinberg, D-Westport, was scheduled following a weekend uproar over an email from a pro-tolls activist group that suggested their members keep the forum, originally in the works for Tuesday, a secret. Toll’s opponents have accused Lamont of conspiring with the local group to keep opponents away from the forum, but they have not cited any evidence.

See the complete article from the Stamford Advocate online.

Note from MTAC: Members are encouraged to attend the forum on Sunday, January 12 at 4:00 pm. The location is Bedford Middle School, 88 North Avenue, Westport, CT.