I-84 Danbury meeting

The Connecticut Department of Transportation (CTDOT) has invited all interested members to a public meeting as part of the first stages of the I-84 Danbury project. The meeting will be on Thursday, June 1, 2017 from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. at CTDOT headquarters. The address is 2800 Berlin Turnpike, Newington, CT 06111, and the meeting will be in conference room 1341. Email Joe Sculley if you plan to attend. The following is more detail from CTDOT regarding the project.

The Connecticut Department of Transportation (CTDOT) is initiating the “I-84 Danbury Project” an important initiative to improve safety, increase capacity, and improve operations and access between Exits 3 and 8 in Danbury. Project goals not only include addressing highway-focused needs of increasing capacity, improving highway access, safety and operations, and enhancing regional mobility but also include multi-modal considerations including better connecting the City of Danbury with regional destinations, improving access to transit, encouraging travel demand management, and looking for ways to improve non-motorized travel in the corridor.

The project planning process, which is just beginning, will focus on the development and preliminary assessment of alternatives. Subsequent phases will include environmental documentation, identification of a preferred alternative and preliminary engineering. All phases of the project include robust public involvement; the I-84 Danbury Project team will be launching a website and hosting a series of public meetings in the coming months.

In advance of this planning and outreach process, CTDOT staff and their consultants will be meeting with key project stakeholders to introduce them to the goals of the project and to begin a dialog about areas of concern to residents and enable us to better understand the environmental, social, economic, and community context of the project area. Truck freight providers and other companies that rely on the trucking industry are chief among these stakeholders.

Oversize & overweight permits meeting with CTDOT

The Connecticut Department of Transportation (CTDOT) has invited MTAC members to a meeting to demonstrate their replacement of the Oversize/Overweight permitting program. Ongoing upgrades have progressed to a point that the Department would like to present the latest version to the users, the motor carriers of Connecticut.

This would be a good opportunity for industry to see what changes are in store and how some of the more common issues experienced in the past have been addressed.

The meeting will feature a presentation, followed by a question and answer session. The meeting will take place on Friday, May 19 at 9 a.m. in the DOT’s “Training Center” building which is immediately adjacent to their main building (on the north side, on Route 5). The address for the Training Center is 2780 Berlin Turnpike, Newington, CT 06111. Email Joe Sculley if you plan to attend.

Message from MTAC partner Fleet Screen

MTAC partner Fleet Screen would like to remind all participants in the MTAC drug and alcohol testing consortium that there is a simple, efficient way to order new Chain of Custody (COC) forms, as well as test supplies. For COCs and supplies, simply email your request to supplies@fleetscreen.com, and you will receive immediate assistance. Similarly, for new clinic setups, email setups@fleetscreen.com for immediate assistance.

If you are not currently enrolled in the drug and alcohol testing consortium run by Fleet Screen but would like to be, complete this attached setup form and remit it to Laurie Biggs (laurieh@fleetscreen.com) and Shelley Sullivan (shelleys@fleetscreen.com). Contact the MTAC office if you have questions about enrollment charges or any other aspect of participating in the consortium.

Fleet Screen is the official third party administrator of MTAC’s drug and alcohol testing consortium. Participants in the consortium enjoy price savings, great customer service, and greatly minimized administrative burdens that are required to comply with federal drug and alcohol testing requirements. In addition to random tests, they also assist members with required pre-employment drug tests, as well as other services.

Contact MTAC if you have questions about participating in the consortium administered by Fleet Screen.

Trump open to raising Gas Tax, says truckers back higher price for highways

Excerpt from Transport Topics via Bloomberg:

President Donald Trump said he’s willing to raise the U.S. gas tax to fund infrastructure development and called the tax-overhaul plan he released last week the beginning of negotiations.

“It’s something that I would certainly consider,” Trump said May 1 in an interview with Bloomberg News in the Oval Office, describing the idea as supported by truckers “if we earmarked money toward the highways.”

Trump released a tax plan April 26 that would cut the maximum corporate tax rate to 15% from the current 35%. The same reduced rate would apply to partnerships and other “pass-through” businesses.

He said he is willing to lose provisions of his tax plan in negotiations with Congress but refused to specify which parts. He also repeated his call for a “reciprocal tax,” which would be aimed at imposing levies on imports to match the rates that each country charges on U.S. exports.

“Everything is a starting point,” Trump said of his tax plan.

The Trump proposal also would eliminate the alternative minimum tax and the estate tax, cut individual income-tax rates and repeal an investment-income tax for high earners, fulfilling a conservative wish list from the past several years.

The one-page plan was silent on both a gas tax or the notion of a reciprocal tax. Trump said he has made no commitments on an increased gas tax but, “it’s something I would certainly consider.”

See the full story online at Transport Topics.

ATRI finds inconsistencies with driver medical exams

Excerpt from Transport Topics article:

The quality of mandatory truck and bus driver physical exams administered by certified Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration medical examiners is inconsistent, according to new analysis by the American Transportation Research Institute.

The research project was conducted to evaluate whether a new process that requires physicians to be trained and tested before being placed on the agency’s national registry of examiners was improving the quality of exams given every two years or less to commercial motor vehicle drivers.

The analysis, done in collaboration with the Mayo Clinic, was based on a survey of 900 commercial drivers, 300 motor carriers and 1,200 certified medical examiners, ATRI President Rebecca Brewster said.

“The data show a polarity in quality of medical examiners,” said Clayton Cowl, chairman of the Mayo Clinic’s Division of Preventive, Occupational and Aerospace Medicine. “Those examiners who are performing only minimal examinations may have received substandard training or are not taking their role seriously.”

Prior to May 2014, examiners issuing medical certificates to commercial motor vehicle operators were only required to be licensed by their states to conduct physical examinations, and be familiar with the demands of CMV operations and knowledgeable of the agency’s requirements.

But researchers said they were in some ways shocked to hear that 63% of drivers surveyed said the new process was not doing a better job of administering exams.

FMCSA regulations require that at a minimum, an examiner must review and discuss any conditions in a driver’s health history that may impact his or her ability to safely operate a commercial motor vehicle; record the driver’s pulse rate, driver height and weight, and blood pressure; test urine for proteins, blood, and sugars; test vision and hearing; and, physically check all major body systems for abnormalities

See the full article from Transport Topics.

Note from MTAC: Find a Certified Medical Examiner (CME) located close to your business by using this website. Additionally, be sure to take advantage of CT DMV’s email address which was created specifically to accept medical cards. The email address is DMV.CDL@ct.gov, and the sender simply needs to attach a PDF file of their medical certification to the email that is sent to that address.

Message from ATA Chairman Kevin Burch

Each and every day, trucking moves America forward, delivering more than 70% of the nation’s freight.  But the trucking industry’s support of our local communities goes beyond the goods we deliver.  The trucking industry gives, and gives big, to charitable organizations across the country.  ATA commissioned the American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) earlier this year to survey the industry to quantify how much trucking gives to charity each year, and to identify what types of charities the industry supports, so that we can better tell the story of how we move America forward.  It would be great to follow up that not only do we invest $9.5 billion in safety – but trucking also contributes X amount of $ to our local communities.

If you haven’t already done so, please take a few minutes to complete the confidential survey below to add your charitable giving to the trucking industry’s total for 2016.  Help us tell OUR story!

You have heard me say so many times, don’t tell your story once in a while or once a week, tell your story every day!  The visit to the White House by the America’s Road Team Captains and members of our Infrastructure Funding Task Force in fact did tell the story of trucking. Please visit ATA’s website to view media coverage of the visits as well as photos from the day.

Thank you in advance for taking a few minutes and filling out the confidential charitable giving survey.

Light turnout for highway toll hearing

Excerpt from CT Post article:

A public hearing Monday on placing electronic tolls on state highways drew little interest — a possible indicator few believe tolls can pass the General Assembly.

Only a handful of supporters and opponents offered testimony on a bill before the finance, revenue and bonding committee that would place tolls on state highways and allow the state to obtain loans from the federal government for transportation projects.

The light turnout contrasted with the dozens of state residents, lawmakers and experts who testified for and against tolls during a February hearing before the Legislature’s Transportation Committee.

State Sen. John Fonfara, D-Hartford, complained the state Department of Transportation did not send a representative to speak to the committee.

“I am disappointed there is no one signed up to speak for DOT,” Fonfara said. “This is a significant piece of legislation.”

DOT Commissioner James Redeker did submit written testimony, but he took no position on the controversial issue of electronic tolls, which scan license plates and send the registered owner a bill.

Instead, Redeker spoke in favor of obtaining loans from the federal government.

“This will provide the state with added options in implementing a robust capital program, including more flexible repayment terms and potentially more favorable interest rates,” Redeker said.

Ben Barnes, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s budget chief, also submitted testimony supporting federal loans.

“These two financing tools will provide greater flexibility for financing large scale transportation projects and will reduce the state’s reliance on the current bond program,” Barnes said.

Others portrayed tolls as either a necessary evil to fund billions in much needed transportation improvements or an unnecessary tax residents don’t want.

“I agree the Special Transportation Fund is running out of funds and federal funds are coming up short,” said State Rep. Gail Lavielle, R-Wilton.“But there are reasons for not having [tolls], and I hear that from my constituents.”

Joseph Sculley, president of the Motor Transport Association of Connecticut, said tolls are a bad idea.

“Charging tolls on our existing highways would be charging businesses and residents more money to sit in the same traffic congestion,” said Sculley, who represents truckers.

Read the full article from CT Post online.

MTAC Membership Directory

MTAC’s publishing partner, E&M Consulting, is wrapping up the publication of our Motor Transport Association of Connecticut Membership Directory. In the next few weeks, they will be contacting members with advertising opportunities. If you have any interest in advertising this year, please contact a sales associate at E&M.

Click here for additional information concerning advertising opportunities.  They are very professional and produce a high-quality publication. Don’t hesitate to call if you have any questions. Thank you for your support.

Prepare for CVSA Roadcheck

Prepare for CVSA Roadcheck by attending a Cargo Securement class taught by MTAC Safety and Compliance Consultant Mike Glinski. Sign up and view a brief class description on the MTAC website.

The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance’s (CVSA) 30th Annual International Roadcheck will take place June 6-8, 2017. Over a 72-hour period, CVSA-certified commercial motor vehicle inspectors in jurisdictions throughout North America, will conduct inspections of commercial motor vehicles and their drivers.

Each year, International Roadcheck places special emphasis on a category of violations. This year’s focus is cargo securement. While checking for compliance with safe cargo securement regulations is always part of roadside inspections, CVSA is highlighting cargo securement safety this year as a reminder of its importance to highway safety.

Inspectors will primarily be conducting the North American Standard Level I Inspection, which is the most thorough roadside inspection. It is a 37-step procedure that includes an examination of both driver operating requirements and vehicle mechanical fitness. Drivers are required to provide items such as their driver’s license, hours-of-service documentation, motor carrier registration and shipping documentation, and inspectors will be checking drivers for seat belt usage and the influence of alcohol and/or drugs. The vehicle inspection includes checking items such as the brake systems, cargo securement, coupling devices, driveline/driveshaft, exhaust systems, frames, fuel systems, lighting devices (required lamps), steering mechanisms, suspensions, tires, van and open-top trailer bodies, wheels, rims and hubs, windshield wipers and emergency exits (on buses).

Courtney, Banks introduce bill to improve rest stops

Excerpt from Congressman Joe Courtney (D-CT) press release:

Congressman Joe Courtney (CT-02) and Congressman Jim Banks (IN-03) today introduced a bill to give states the option to commercialize state-owned rest areas on interstate highways. The legislation would give states the discretion on how to use this new revenue to fund infrastructure projects and highway maintenance.

“This legislation will finally provide state governments with the option to enter into public-private partnerships to pay for the maintenance and upkeep of highway rest stops while providing improved amenities to the public,” said Courtney. “The 1956 law that currently blocks the creation of full-service rest stops creates a difficult financial situation for already cash-strapped states. Our bill will allow for public-private partnerships that will cover the cost of providing public restrooms while giving travelers options for food services and convenience shops. I look forward to working with Rep. Banks to build bipartisan support for his common sense alternative.”

“Across America, state governments are grappling with how to fund critical infrastructure needs,” said Banks. “Giving states the option to commercialize rest areas would create a new source of revenue for long-term infrastructure needs and provide drivers with a smoother travel experience. This bipartisan bill is a common-sense solution that would give states more control and turn fiscal liabilities into potential assets.”

To see the complete release, click here.