Traffic advisory for Cheshire, Connecticut (Route 70)

The State of Connecticut Department of Transportation plans to resurface Route 70 (Academy Rd/S. Meriden Rd) from Route 10 to Cortland Circle. Portions of the road will be milled, starting at 5 a.m. on Monday, April 4, and continuing on April 5 – 8, starting at 6:30 a.m.

Paving will begin at 5 a.m. on Monday, April 11, and will continue each day thereafter staring at 6:30 a.m. until paving is completed over the entire section. Work is scheduled to be completed at 3 p.m. each day. Both milling and paving will begin at the Route 10 intersection and continue eastbound to the intersection with Cortland Cir.

Commuters are encouraged to find alternative routes during the anticipated project timeline.

MTAC testifies against revenue diversions

On March 18, 2016, MTAC President Joe Sculley testified in opposition to Raised Bill 453, which would divert revenue from the Special Transportation Fund. The bill proposes that 50% of revenue from fines issued for blocking an intersection in the three largest municipalities be remitted to the municipality in which it was issued. Currently, 100% of the fine revenue goes to the Special Transportation Fund.

During his testimony, Joe Sculley stated:

This is a perfect example of a diversion of transportation revenue that should be going to the Special Transportation Fund (STF). The legislature is in the midst of considering the “lockbox” proposal, which would be created by Constitutional amendment. This bill should be considered a signal that there is a clear intention to continue to raid the Special Transportation Fund to send transportation revenue to non-transportation purposes, whether there is a lockbox or not. If the current version of the lockbox were to become law, and this bill was being considered next session instead of this session, it would not make any difference. The current version of the lockbox would not stop this diversion of revenue. Not only could this fine revenue be diverted now or after the hypothetical passage of this lockbox, so could fuel taxes, registration fees, or anything else.

To see a copy of the entire testimony, click here.

Safety recall issued by Volvo Trucks

volvo-identification-steering-shaftThe Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has issued a bulletin based upon a safety recall initiated by Volvo Trucks affecting nearly 20,000 Class 8 motor vehicles, with more than 17,000 affected vehicles in the United States. FMCSA has become aware of a critical safety defect that could severely affect the safe operation of these vehicles due to a faulty two-piece steering shaft. This condition can lead to separation of the steering shaft without warning and an immediate loss of steering ability and control which may lead to a vehicle crash. Operators of vehicles affected by the Volvo recall should take the vehicles out of service as soon as possible. FMCSA is publishing this advisory bulletin to raise awareness of this issue in order to prevent serious crashes.

FMCSA and State inspectors are advised that certain 2016 and 2017 Volvo and Mack Titan model trucks may be affected by the recall. Volvo has advised that carriers contact the Volvo Customer Support line below to determine what, if any, action is necessary. If FMCSA or State inspectors identify a potentially affected vehicle, the driver should be directed to call Volvo Customer Support at (877) 800-4945 (Option 1) prior to proceeding, and to follow the instructions provided by Volvo.

The included graphic illustrates how to identify these vehicles and may be provided to potentially affected drivers who are contacting Volvo.

In addition to being a serious safety issue, continuing to operate these vehicles could be considered a violation of 49 C.F.R. § 396.7, which prohibits operation of a vehicle in a condition likely to cause an accident or a breakdown. Safety demands that operators of these vehicles take prompt and appropriate action to ensure this issue is addressed. Motor carriers that violate applicable regulations may face enforcement action including, but not limited to, civil penalties and a finding that the defect constitutes an out-of-service condition.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Part 573 Safety Recall Report has been posted online.

Transportation Lockbox bill passes committee

From The Hartford Courant.

‘Transportation Lockbox’ Bill Passes Committee — With Warning

A measure to protect state transportation funds won a narrow victory Monday at a legislative committee, but Republican lawmakers made clear that they will sink it later on unless the wording becomes stronger.

“People have raised the suspicion that this is just a ruse to have the public accept a new revenue scheme,” Sen. Toni Boucher, R-Wilton, told her colleagues on the transportation committee.

Several Republicans ultimately voted with Democrats to pass along Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s proposed “transportation lockbox” to the full General Assembly. But they warned that unless legislative leaders toughen up the bill in the coming weeks, they will vote it down if it reaches the House or Senate floor.

Read the full article.

Troopers enforce Move Over Law

From WTNH – Connecticut State Police are conducting an awareness campaign to remind drivers of the Move Over Law. Beginning on February 22, troopers began aggressively pushing the campaign on social media, reminding people that if you see any type of emergency vehicle, highway maintenance crew, or tow truck on the side of the road you MUST either slow down or move over as you approach and pass.

Read the full article online at the WTNH website.

FMCSA announces plans to issue proposed entry-level driver training rule

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration on March 4 made public its “negotiated” proposed entry-level driver training rule that would revise the standards required for new interstate and intrastate commercial vehicle operators to obtain a commercial driver license.

The proposal does not specify a minimum number of hours that driver-trainees must spend on classroom theory, but it would require that Class A CDL driver-trainees receive a minimum of 30 hours of behind-the-wheel training, with a minimum of 10 hours on a driving range.

The Class A driving instruction also must include either driving 10 of the total required hours on a public road or 10 public road trips — each being at least 50 minutes.

Class B CDL driver-trainees must receive a minimum of 15 hours of behind-the-wheel training, with a minimum of seven hours of public road driving.

The proposal said the entities providing training must meet minimum curriculum qualifications, be listed on FMCSA’s proposed training provider registry and submit electronically to FMCSA the training certificate for each individual who completes the training.

See full article originally published in Transport Topics.

FHWA releases size & weight changes guidance

From the CVSA Newsletter.

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has issued a memo providing guidance regarding the commercial motor vehicle size and weight changes included in the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act of 2015. FHWA will be scheduling informational webinars to further review these changes and CVSA will circulate that information when it becomes available.

DMV: Trucking companies have 90 days to pay registration fees

An excerpt from The Journal Enquirer article posted on Feb. 29, 2016 and written by Mike Savino.

Department of Motor Vehicles [Connecticut] has extended the time for truckers to pay registration fees that hadn’t been charged due to a miscalculation by the department’s software.

The DMV now is giving commercial truckers 90 days to pay fees under the International Registration Program, up from the 30-day timeframe the department had announced this month when it disclosed the problem.

The fees weren’t charged as a result of a miscalculation in software supplied by Xerox, resulting in commercial trucking companies being undercharged for registrations from 2008 to 2014.

The DMV said the problem resulted in roughly 10 percent of trucking companies statewide being undercharged, and those firms now owe a combined $73,000.

The Motor Transport Association of Connecticut, though, complained that the 30-day timeframe wasn’t long enough because companies wouldn’t have enough available money to pay the fees so quickly

Read the full article at The Journal Enquirer.

MTAC appreciates this action by DMV to give members more time to deal with this unexpected cost.

Oversize & overweight permit fee increases proposed

On Friday, Feb. 27, Joe Sculley submitted testimony to the Joint Committee on Finance, Revenue, and Bonding regarding proposals to increase fees for oversize and overweight permits. An excerpt from the testimony is below. The full testimony is available as a PDF document.

At this time, we are opposed to any further increases in any taxes, fees or other charges related to transportation until an effective Constitutional Amendment is approved guaranteeing that the money generated will be used for transportation purposes. Too many times the Special Transportation Fund has been raided or revenue that should be deposited in it has been diverted by this legislature and several governors.

We would be willing to discuss increasing the fees in the context of all of the increases which the Governor will be proposing to finance his ambitious transportation infrastructure program. This bill would significantly increase the cost for state issued permits for the transportation of over-dimension shipments. These are regularly issued to move certain non-divisible loads, like bulldozers or cranes from one job site to another. They are sometimes issued for very large loads which require extensive routing and escort vehicles.

Currently the Connecticut permit office employs outdated manual approval processing for permit applications. This is cumbersome and inconvenient. Most states now provide electronic approval of certain vehicles over certain routes. For years, we have been working with the Department of Transportation to move Connecticut to a modern automated permit system. As the attached chart indicates, most states have moved to an automated self-issuing permit. This saves time and money for not only the state but also businesses. We don’t believe that we should pay more for an outdated system and especially a new improved one that eliminates costs for both the state and the customer.

MTAC Testimony on Transportation Lockbox Proposal

On Monday, Feb. 29, MTAC President Joe Sculley testified before the Joint Transportation Committee regarding the proposed Constitutional Amendment to create a “lockbox” for transportation funds. An excerpt of that testimony is below. The full testimony is available as a PDF document.

MTAC believes that an amendment to the Connecticut Constitution should name revenue sources right in the Constitution. And it should identify, in general terms, the types of expenditures that can be characterized as “transportation.”

The Governor’s Transportation Finance Panel offered some aggressive financing proposals to raise $100 billion. These recommendations add to the critical necessity of passing a strong and enforceable lockbox. The Transportation Finance Panel options include fuel tax increases, license and permit fee increases, an oil companies tax increase, and congestion price tolling. The panel names possible locations for tolling as the I-84 west corridor, I-95 East, I-95 West, the CT River bridges in the Hartford area, Route 2, I-91/I-691//Rt 15 interchange, Route 9, and Route 11.

These tax and fee increases will be a shock to small business trucking companies who might be struggling to stay in business. Larger companies will pass those costs on to their customers, resulting in higher prices for goods and services for all CT consumers. Everybody will pay more for everything. And if the funds are diverted, those that provide the funding will get nothing in return. Connecticut is still dealing with growing budget deficits. A proposal for 5.75% across-the-board cuts is on the table for this year. Many leaders are suggesting a similar approach might have to happen next year as well. These proposals were suggested before the recent notice by OFA which states that the budget deficit is $900 million.

MTAC members see this news about large deficits and difficult cuts, and at the same time see the proposal to raise $100 billion under the auspices of this lockbox proposal. The STF is funded almost entirely by car and truck owners and operators who pay their fuels taxes, the oil companies’ tax, motor vehicle receipts, license and permit fees, and fines, as well as some federal highway funds, which are also generated by road and highway users. MTAC members fear that their taxes and fees will go up, and the funds will be diverted to other areas of government. If those fears were to come to fruition, it would mean that car and truck owners and operators would be subsidizing other areas of government (more so than they already are).