Three weeks until bridge is installed on Route 1 over I-95 at Exit 9, Stamford

In three weeks, the first of two bridge spans on Route 1 (East Main Street) over I-95 at Exit 9 in Stamford will be moved and set in place. On Friday, May 31 at 11 p.m., I-95 motorists will be detoured onto 2-lane temporary roads in each direction while construction is underway. Earlier in the evening, Route 1 traffic will also be detoured around the work site onto local roads. I-95 and Route 1 will reopen to through traffic by 5 a.m. Monday, June 3rd. The following week Friday, June 7, beginning at 11 p.m., the second bridge span will be installed as traffic is detoured again around the construction zone.

See www.i95exit9.com for more information, including photos showing construction in progress.

Builders, trades, launch new ad to push for tolls in Connecticut

From CT Mirror.

A coalition of construction businesses and trades launched a new television and online advertising campaign Tuesday that makes a pitch for electronic tolling to refinance a critical rebuild of Connecticut’s highways, bridges and rail lines.

First established last spring to support tolls, the Move CT Forward coalition is renewing its efforts as legislators near a conclusion on this year’s transportation financing debate.

“With tolls, trucks and out of state drivers will pay more, we will pay less,” the narrator of the ad states. “And taxpayers will get a break. Connecticut needs to fix our roads now, our families’ safety depends on it.”

Gov. Ned Lamont has proposed establishing electronic tolls on Interstates 84, 91 and 95 and on the Merritt Parkway. Lamont estimates tolls could raise $800 million per year and as much as 40 percent of revenues could come from out-of-state motorists.

See complete article from CT Mirror online.

DOT proposal on HOS rules slated for June publication

From Transport Topics.

The Department of Transportation’s Significant Rulemaking Report for April indicates that the agency plans to publish its Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on hours-of-service regulations June 7.

The Significant Rulemakings Report, updated monthly, offers the summary and status of the rulemakings DOT has pending. Although April’s report lists June 7 as the “originally scheduled date” to publish the NPRM after the Office of Management and Budget’s review process, that date is not set in stone.

DOT submitted the proposal to OMB on March 29. The contents of the notice were not made public. A Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration spokesman confirmed that OMB still is reviewing the proposal.

“The timeline included in the department’s April regulatory update reflects FMCSA’s goal to move quickly during this rulemaking process, and the agency is hopeful that goal will be achieved,” the spokesman told Transport Topics.

American Trucking Associations spokesman Sean McNally said the group is pleased that DOT has released a projected publication date for the NPRM. In March, FMCSA chief Ray Martinez expressed optimism that the proposal will keep moving “on a fast track.” Martinez made the remark during a radio interview broadcast from the Mid-America Trucking Show in Louisville, Ky.

See complete article from Transport Topics online.

Spurred by e-commerce, Bradley Airport sees spike, significant growth potential in freight business

From Hartford Business Journal.

The four-town Bradley Airport Development Zone is also in a unique position to become a key locus of ground freight in the Northeast, said Joe Sculley, president of the Motor Transport Association of Connecticut (MTAC), which represents companies in the state’s trucking industry. In addition to its proximity to the airport, its unique geographic position puts it nearby major highways, making the area a great hub for trucking, which moves 94 percent of all freight in Connecticut.

The advent of companies like Amazon and others placing warehouses to meet demands for next-day or even same-day delivery is also adjusting truckers’ jobs, Sculley said. Thirty or 40 years ago, almost all trucking consisted of long-haul, cross-country routes.

Now, more routes are closer to the end customer or final destination, requiring truckers to fulfill that critical “last-mile” haul.

“Now because of e-commerce and the way retailers are set up, it’s become more localized, or regionalized, so the trucking routes are shorter,” Sculley said. “If you can tell [drivers] that they can be home at night, that’s a big plus.”

To see the complete article from the Hartford Business Journal online.

Finance package offers mixed bag of tax hikes

From CT News Junkie.

The Finance, Revenue, and Bonding Committee is proposing increasing revenues by $1.01 billion in 2020 and $1.33 billion in 2021, but the tax package the committee is hoping to adopt Wednesday doesn’t accept all of Gov. Ned Lamont’s suggestions.

The committee, which eventually passed the package 29-21, rejected some of Lamont’s efforts to broaden the sales tax base by eliminating existing exemptions. The committee instead proposes to limit Lamont’s list to removing the exemptions on interior design services, except when purchased by a business for use by such business; specified parking services; transportation network company services like Uber and Lyft; safety apparel; and dry cleaning and laundry services, excluding coin-operated services.”

The committee also proposes to keep the sales tax exemption on the accounting and legal services industries, which lobbied against a sales tax for their services.

However, the committee would increase from 6.35% to 7.35% the sales tax on prepared meals sold by restaurants, caterers, or grocery stores. It also would increase the sales tax on liquors, soft drinks, sodas, and beverages sold in connection with those meals.

See the complete article from CT News Junkie online.

CVSA’s Operation Safe Driver Week – July 14-20 – focus on speeding

From CVSA.

Drivers’ actions contributed to a staggering 94 percent of all traffic crashes, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) 2015 Traffic Safety Facts report.

In response to this issue, law enforcement personnel will be on the lookout for commercial motor vehicle drivers and passenger vehicle drivers engaging in dangerous driver behaviors July 14-20 as part of the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance’s (CVSA) Operation Safe Driver Week.

Drivers engaging in unsafe driving behaviors will be pulled over by law enforcement and may be issued a warning and/or citation.

  • In 2017, speeding was a contributing factor in 26 percent of all traffic fatalities, according to NHTSA. That’s 9,717 lives lost due to speeding.
  • During last year’s Operation Safe Driver Week, 16,909 passenger vehicle drivers and 1,908 commercial motor vehicle drivers were issued citations for speeding. In addition, 17 commercial motor vehicle drivers and 714 passenger vehicle drivers were cited for driving too fast for the conditions.
  • According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety Highway Loss Data Institute, speeding has been a factor in more than a quarter of crash deaths since 2008.
  • According FMCSA’s 2016 Large Truck and Bus Facts, speeding of any kind was the most frequent driver-related crash factor for drivers of commercial motor vehicles and passenger vehicles.

For these reasons, CVSA selected speeding as the emphasis area for this year’s Operation Safe Driver Week and law enforcement jurisdictions throughout North America will be endorsing, promoting and supporting the following message: Late won’t kill you, speeding will. 

See the complete release from CVSA online.

Trump, Congressional Democrats agree on $2 trillion infrastructure package

From Transport Topics.

After a private meeting at the White House on April 30, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer told reporters that Democrats had reached an agreement with President Donald Trump on a $2 trillion infrastructure measure.

“Building [the] infrastructure of America has never been a partisan issue and we hope to go forward in a very nonpartisan way for the future,” said Pelosi.

Although the plan still lacks a funding road map, Schumer explained the measure would address surface transportation corridors as well as explore ways for expanding access to broadband.

Schumer emphasized that negotiators agreed on the potential economic benefits that would come from modernizing freight corridors and transit systems, adding, “We hope [the legislation] will go to a constructive conclusion.”

See the complete article from Transport Topics online.

Connecticut Resources

MTAC submits testimony on transportation funding legislation

This week, MTAC president Joe Sculley submitted testimony in support of SB 1121, an act concerning Prioritize Progress. The bill is an alternative to using tolls to fund transportation in Connecticut, which would instead prioritize the use of Special Transportation Bonds, and General Obligation bonds.

In Sculley’s testimony, he outlined how the bipartisan budget passed by the legislature in May 2018 which retained fiscal restraints from the 2017 budget, while stabilizing the Special Transportation Fund, led to record interest in Connecticut transportation bonds. This is a positive development which can be built on.

Sculley also stated that debt service obligations are not causing problems with the Special Transportation Fund. Neither is revenue to the fund, which has steadily increased since the fund was created. The problems are caused by tremendously increased spending on public transit subsidies, as well as increased spending on pension/fringe benefit funding. Spending on transit subsidies has increased by 182.5% over the last 15 years, and spending on pensions/fringe benefits has increased by 140.4%. Meanwhile, debt service as a percentage of the STF is currently 40.3%, whereas 15 years ago it was 46.3%.

A copy of Joe Sculley’s testimony is available online.

News & insights from MTAC partner Wilson Elser

The April 2019 issue of The Hub: Transportation News & Insights looks at four trending topics: The recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling in favor of independent contractors/ owner operators; an examination of how duck boat owners avoided seeking limitation in an attempt to limit potential exposure to punitive damages; new FAA Regulations for drones; and the New Jersey Supreme Court’s potential change on scope of damages in auto accident cases.

U.S. Supreme Court Rules in Favor of Independent Contractors/Owner Operators

In a recent U.S. Supreme Court case, the plaintiff filed a class action lawsuit on behalf of himself and thousands of other contractors alleging an employer had misclassified him as a contractor to underpay him in violation of a federal labor law. In a blockbuster holding, the Court ruled in favor of independent contractors who work in transportation.

View the full article, plus additional insights from Wilson Elser online.

NYC Council passes bill banning pre-employment marijuana drug testing

From MTAC partner Wilson Elser.

On April 9, 2019, the New York City Council enacted a bill banning pre-employment testing for marijuana use. The bill passed on a 41−4 vote and is expected to be signed by Mayor Bill de Blasio.

The City Council’s bill prohibits New York City employers from requiring a prospective employee to submit to a marijuana drug test as a condition of employment. The bill includes exceptions for safety and security sensitive jobs and those tied to a federal or state contract or grant. Law enforcement personnel, commercial drivers and construction workers specifically are exempted under the bill. Any positions requiring the supervision and care of children, medical patients or vulnerable persons also are exempted. Despite these exemptions, the bill will affect public and private employers throughout New York City, including those with headquarters in other states.

The bill was sponsored by New York City Public Advocate Jumaane D. Williams, Majority Leader Laurie A. Cumbo and New York City Council Member Carlina Rivera. According to Williams, “As we push for legalization on a state level, it makes absolutely no sense that we’re keeping people from finding jobs or advancing their careers because of marijuana use.” If Mayor de Blasio signs the bill into law, it will become effective in 2020.

To see the complete post from Wilson Elser online.