Truck Driving Championship participation increases

More than 30 drivers have enrolled in the upcoming Connecticut Truck Driving Championship set for June 11 at the Fedex Freight facility in Windsor Locks. However, it is not too late to sign up to compete. Specifically, the Flatbed and Straight Truck fields are wide open, so members should be sure to consider having their drivers sign up and compete (enroll by May 31 to avoid penalty). Drivers can sign up to register here, and will then have to complete a driver’s enrollment form and send it back to MTAC.

Reserve your tickets to the Awards Barbecue that starts around 4 p.m. Complete this online form, and MTAC will either invoice current members, or contact non-members so they can pay by credit card. Tickets will be held for pickup at the registration booth on the day of the event.

There are a couple of sponsorship opportunities still available for the Truck Driving Championship.

You can find all of the details about MTAC’s Truck Driving Championship online.

FedEx breaks ground in Middletown, 400 jobs expected

Construction will begin soon on a 525,000 square foot FedEx Ground distribution hub on Middle Street at the former site of the Aetna campus.

Local and state officials participated in a groundbreaking Thursday morning with FedEx Ground, which says it will create at least 400 jobs with the new center, scheduled to open in August 2018.

“This hub is part of a nationwide expansion,” said Alex Kapinos, manager of the Northeast region. “Just this fiscal year we have invested $1.6 billion in our network expansion. The number of packages that we pick up, transport and deliver every day has more than doubled in 10 years. We’re a growing company and we need people from right here in the community to help us continue to grow.”

See the full story from the Hartford Courant.

MTAC President Joe Sculley attended this event, along with MTAC Board member Helen Brooks from FedEx Corporation. MTAC is pleased that FedEx, a long-time MTAC member which supports the association in a myriad of ways, is making a major investment in Connecticut.

FedEx Breaks Ground in Middletown

CDL apprenticeship grant opportunity

MTAC recently met with senior Connecticut Department of Labor officials to discuss the availability of apprenticeship funds that could be used by the trucking industry. Specifically, funds are available that could be used towards the cost of tuition at a commercial driving school.

Department of Labor officials reported that as much as $3,500 is available and could be used to cover tuition at a commercial driving school for each student, as part of the apprenticeship program. In order to qualify for the grant, a student would have to be involved in an apprenticeship program comprised of a 2,000 hour (approximately one year) curriculum.

MTAC believes that a program like this could be a good way to attract qualified workers and help address the shortage of commercial truck drivers at the same time. MTAC would like to put together a working group to develop a curriculum for an apprenticeship program. Some other states have programs like this already underway, and their curriculums could be used as a baseline for what MTAC develops for a Connecticut apprenticeship program.

Please contact Joe Sculley if you would be willing to be involved in a working group to develop an apprenticeship curriculum.

Reminder: CVSA Roadcheck – Focus on Tires

As a reminder, the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) Roadcheck with a focus on tires will be held in June. Do not operate trucks with tires that: have less than the minimum tread depth (minimum tread depth for steer tires is 4/32-inch, and 2/32-inch for any other wheel position); have body ply or belt material exposed through the tread or sidewall; have any tread or sidewall separation; are flat or have an audible leak; have a cut to the extent that the ply or belt material is exposed. June 7-9 is the industry’s opportunity to demonstrate safety and compliance to law enforcement officials.

The CVSA’s 29th annual International Roadcheck will take place June 7-9, 2016. International Roadcheck is a 72-hour period when approximately 10,000 CVSA-certified local, state, provincial, territorial and federal inspectors in jurisdictions across North America perform large truck and bus safety inspections.

International Roadcheck is the largest targeted enforcement program on commercial motor vehicles in the world, with nearly 17 trucks or buses inspected, on average, every minute in Canada, the United States and Mexico during a 72-hour period. During the annual three-day event, CVSA-certified inspectors conduct compliance, enforcement and educational initiatives targeted at various elements of motor carrier, vehicle and driver safety.

Each year, International Roadcheck places special emphasis on a category of violations. The special emphasis for 2016 International Roadcheck is tire safety (i.e., measuring the tire tread depth, checking the tire pressure, checking to make sure that no items are lodged between dual tires and examining the overall condition of the tire to make sure that no deep cuts or bulges exist in the sidewalls of the tire).

Additional information can be found at the CVSA’s website.

ATRI operational costs survey

The American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) has issued a data call for the annual update to its Operational Costs of Trucking report. The brief online questionnaire seeks to capture basic cost information from for-hire motor carriers on items such as driver pay, fuel costs, insurance premiums and lease or purchase payments. Carriers are asked to provide full-year 2015 cost per mile and cost per hour data.

The results of this data collection, combined with the previous Operational Costs of Trucking reports, will yield eight full years (2008 – 2015) of trucking cost information derived directly from fleet operations. This research provides carriers with an important high-level benchmarking tool and government agencies with real world data for future infrastructure improvement analyses.

“ATRI’s annual Operational Costs of Trucking report is a key benchmark that we rely on to identify where we might improve our operating efficiency. Providing the information to ATRI is easy to do and I encourage my colleagues throughout the industry to participate in this vital data collection by ATRI,” said Sherri Garner Brumbaugh, president and CEO of Garner Transportation Group and a member of ATRI’s Research Advisory Committee.

For-hire motor carriers are encouraged to provide confidential operational cost data through ATRI’s survey by Friday, June 17, 2016. The results of this study will be available later this year. Click here to take the survey.

Truckers Against Trafficking training

MTAC partner Truckers Against Trafficking (TAT) is encouraging member companies to undergo training that would help truckers identify human trafficking. Truckers Against Trafficking (TAT) is a 501(c)3 that exists to educate, equip, empower and mobilize members of the trucking and travel plaza industry to combat domestic sex trafficking. TAT recognizes that members of the trucking industry and individual truckers are invaluable in the fight against the heinous crime of human trafficking. As the eyes and ears of our nation’s highways, truckers are in a unique position to make a difference and close loopholes to traffickers who seek to exploit our transportation system for their personal gain. Since TAT’s inception, 425 likely cases of human trafficking, involving 744 victims (249 minors) have been reported to the National Human Trafficking Resource Center (NHTRC) hotline.

Several MTAC member companies have already completed TAT training. Members should be sure to visit the TAT website and consider contacting TAT about training. TAT asks that drivers, companies, or truck driving schools interested in receiving any of their material should contact them via email.

Connecticut Legislature going overtime to approve budget

From Transport Topics.

Knowing that they wouldn’t be able to approve a budget before the midnight May 4 deadline despite reaching a tentative, $19.75 billion agreement with Gov. Dannel Malloy the previous day, Connecticut lawmakers voted to schedule special sessions to do so. The Senate will reconvene May 12. The House has yet to set a date to vote on a budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1.

“As a matter of democracy and fairness to all the members of the House, it is not possible to do a budget this evening,” Speaker J. Brendan Sharkey (D-Hamden) and Senate Majority Leader Joe Aresimowicz said in a joint statement. “The time it took to reach an agreement, combined with the challenge of staff to physically get a printed bill to the floor, and then achieve passage, would likely require a cutoff of discussions.

“That scenario would not be fair for the purpose of allowing a complete and reasonable debate, and at this point would be a disservice to House members and the public they represent to move forward tonight.”

Joe Sculley, president of the Motor Transport Association of Connecticut, told Transport Topics that his group opposes the Legislature’s proposed $50 million cuts to the state’s transportation fund.

“The governor had pledged that taxes and fees would not be increased until we had a [constitutional] lockbox, and we don’t have one, but there are increases in oversize and overweight permit fees [for trucks] in the budget,” said Sculley, who added that Connecticut devotes the lowest share of its highway user fees to roads than any other state.

Warehouse Contract webinar on May 12

The Scopelitis Law Firm is hosting a free webinar to discuss warehouse contract terms. The firm will share some of the most contested terms and how they respond to depositors’ requests to make changes. The webinar will be held on Thursday, May 12 from 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 pm.

Scopelitis has stated that MTAC members may participate free of charge. Register for the webinar online.

Route 8 construction set for parts of June and July

Some MTAC members may already be aware of construction on Route 8 in Bridgeport, Connecticut. For those who might not know, in general the project involves the replacement of the superstructures (beams and concrete decks) of several bridges on Route 8/25, approximately two miles north of Interstate 95.

The bridges carry Route 8/25 over Lindley Street and Capitol Avenue. There are two bridges at each location (one northbound and one southbound), separated by a median. As part of this project, they will be replaced in two phases.

During the first phase – scheduled for June 11-25 – the southbound bridges will be replaced. During this phase you should expect that:

  • Northbound traffic on Route 8 will be reduced to two lanes.
  • Southbound traffic on Route 8 will be reduced to three lanes and shifted onto the northbound barrel of the highway.

Upon completion of the southbound bridge replacement, traffic flows will return to normal for approximately three weeks. A second phase – scheduled for July 16-30 – will allow the replacement of the northbound bridges. During this phase you should expect that:

  • Southbound traffic on Route 8 will be reduced to two lanes.
  • Northbound traffic on Route 8 will be reduced to three lanes and shifted onto the southbound barrel of the highway.

DOT has also advised that the Exit 4 off ramp may be closed prior to the start of the first lane shift, and the Exit 5 on ramp will be closed in conjunction with the first lane shift.

MTAC members should visit a website that has been created for this project, sign up to receive email updates, and review detour maps.

Hours of Service update

The U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee unanimously passed its Fiscal Year 2017 funding bill for the Departments of Transportation and Housing and Urban Development. Included in the comprehensive legislation is a technical correction to the suspension of the July 2013 restrictions on the use of the 34-hour restart, ensuring that the 34-hour restart remains in place.

The Senate language addresses a legislative drafting error from last year’s omnibus spending bill, which could unintentionally eliminate the entire 34-hour restart when the Secretary of Transportation submits the final HOS restart study to Congress. Additionally, the Senate language also places a cap on weekly working hours at 73 hours in a 7-day period. Following this action, the bill will next go to the Senate floor for consideration.

The House Appropriations Committee is expected to act on their own transportation funding bill in the coming weeks.