Skip to comments.First look at the House's four-year transportation bill
Posted on 02/02/2012 6:31:19 PM PST by Domandred
At first glance, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committees four-year surface transportation bill contains some wins for small-business trucking, but will those be enough to overcome possible deal breakers such as longer and heavier trucks on federal highways? Heres a look inside the bill released on Tuesday, Jan. 31.
For starters, the bill calls for approximately $260 billion in funding for surface transportation, but the exact amount for highways was not known as of press time.
From OOIDAs standpoint, the positives in the bill include provisions for truck parking and driver training, a study of crashworthiness in truck cabs, and a study of the adverse effects of regulation on small-business truckers.
The bill would increase bonds for brokers and freight forwarders from $10,000 to $100,000. Another provision would establish a national highway bridge and tunnel inventory and upgrade inspection standards.
The bill would also require states to address high-risk railroad crossings and consolidate a number of obsolete or duplicative DOT programs.
It would clamp down on chameleon carriers that are forced to close down only to reopen under different names.
But the bill includes some possible deal breakers as well.
A large elephant in the room and one that OOIDA is most concerned about in the bill is a provision to increase allowable truck weights on federally funded highways. The bill would increase truck weight to 97,000 pounds on six axles from the current system of 80,000 pounds on five axles.
It would allow states to increase weights to 126,000 pounds on 25-mile stretches of interstates and give states latitude to permit longer combination vehicles, or LCVs, including double and triple trailers. It would also allow car haulers to weigh up to 88,000 pounds.
OOIDA has long been an opponent of LCVs and heavier truck weights as an industry norm. The Association has members who haul specialty loads by permit but does not believe LCVs and heavier trucks should become the status quo. See related coverage at landlinemag.com.
Additional items of concern are the reduction in the overall federal role in highways and a proposed increased reliance on the private sector to build and operate infrastructure for profit.
The bill calls for the U.S. DOT to establish best practices for public-private partnerships for infrastructure projects and provide technical assistance to states. For all intents and purpose, that could lead to more roads and bridges built as tollways with profit guarantees for the investors. For truckers, it could mean increased cost of operation.
Speaking of tolls, the bill would allow tolls to be considered for new infrastructure including new lanes added to existing roadways. It would allow a certain number of existing interstates to be tolled, as well. Congestion mitigation lanes such as high-occupancy lanes are included in the toll proposal.
The bill calls for the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) to be funded with $1 billion. This would be used to fund large-scale projects including congestion mitigation, PPPs and toll roads. The bill also lays out $750 million to fund state infrastructure banks.
While OOIDA does not categorically oppose tolls for new infrastructure that adds capacity, the concern is about more private-sector control and less public accountability for infrastructure.
OOIDA leadership continues to review the contents of the 800-plus page bill.
House lawmakers in the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee plan to mark up the bill on Thursday, Feb. 2. Even if it passes in committee, the provisions must meet Senate approval before it can advance.
Given some of the pay fors in the bill, such as proceeds from oil drilling being used to fund transportation programs, the bill is sure to draw some partisan lines in the sand.
News of interest in the trucking world.
a big safety issue would be to get the government out of ‘slush funding’ trucking companies driving schools at $5,000 per ‘student.” The companies are grabbing the free money and funneling people with little to no aptitude for driving - and put them out on the road with a bare minimum of training. (And there are plenty from places like Somalia, who drive with their sandals (illegal in itself, turbans and prayer rugs that they whip out on the tarmac at refueling stops. AND have constant contact with people in the 2-3 cities known to have terrorists cells. But we’ll molest old ladies and babies at the airports and ignore that there are people now in control of big rig across the country...with close up and personal access to oil refineries, dams, nuclear plants etc. Remember, this administration is ‘wait until it happens’ oriented.)The vast majority of these push-through students do not belong behind a wheel of a big-rig.
There is no excuse for the gov’t subsidizing driving schools when tens of thousands of qualified, experienced drivers have been put out work in the past 3 years.
I know of one of the bigger companies that, 3 years ago, had a decades old excellent safety record. Now, pushing these dangerous drivers out on the roads, accidents have multiplied and the company has lost it’s good safety record and is the laughing stock of the industry.
Anything the government gets it’s claws into, it destroys.
HIRE QUALIFIED, EXPERIENCED DRIVERS.
sounds like another slush fund for cronyism
Looks like a sell-out to Governors Perry and Daniels - TOLL ROADS GALORE!!!
Uh, this already exists...National Bridge Inspection Standards