June 2013

STATES PLAN FOR ROAD IMPROVEMENTS.

Both Pennsylvania and Michigan are eyeing plans for significant new funding for highway improvements according to the Associated Press. The Pennsylvania plan, which seeks to raise an additional $2.5 billion in revenue would come from motorist fees and wholesale fuel taxes—which could bump prices up to a quarter per gallon. According to Pennsylvania Transportation Committee Chairman John Rafferty, the state’s bridges and highways are in need of “dire repair” and funding has been unchanged since 1990.

In Michigan, both Governor Rick Snyder and the state legislature have put forward plans that also include increasing gas taxes and/or license plate fees. Ideas such as turning Interstate 94 into a toll road have also been considered. Road funding advocates have expressed concern as Michigan highways are “crumbling” while the group, Americans for Prosperity have opposed tax hikes for road repairs.

AND A NEW BRIDGE. At long last, it looks like a new bridge between Detroit and Canada may become a reality. It is not a done deal yet as Ambassador Bridge owner Manuel Moroun claims a “perpetual and exclusive franchise right” to operate his bridge free of competition, but important hurdles have been crossed. Canada has agreed to pay a significant chunk of the construction costs including buying the land needed for the approach on the U.S. side—more news to come.

WATCH YOUR BASIC. The Compliance, Safety, and Accountability (CSA) of the program of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is used to track carriers based on compliance and accident history. Scoring is based on roadside inspections, violations found, and accident reporting. The scoring system, referred to in the unruly but clever acronym BASIC (Behavioral Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories) is weighted to take into account the severity of a violation—especially in the case of crash causation. This is a somewhat complicated system, because it is time-weighted; in other words, your score would be better 12 months after a violation than it is within the first six months. We’ll cover this in more detail in the months to come, but for now, you should know what BASIC is, and also know that it uses DOT numbers as its basis.

YOU MAY WANT TO THINK BEFORE YOU EAT. According to Men’s Health magazine, the Triple Baconator Combo Meal from Wendy’s has 1,850 calories, 2,780 grams of sodium, and 106 grams of fat. Even if you’re not a nutritionist, you can probably guess that it’s not the healthiest meal on the road—especially if you’re sitting more than walking. If you get a Wendy’s Junior and a small chili you’re talking only 405 calories and 15 grams of fat—a much smarter way to go. Keep the grease on your axles and the salt on the highway.

LNG AROUND THE CORNER. Looks like the momentum on liquid natural gas (LNG) powered trucks is increasing as both Volvo and Mack are continuing to develop and market LNG engines. In addition, Shell Oil Co. and Truck Stops of America have announced plans to develop a nationwide network of LNG fueling stations for over the road truckers.

TOLLS TO RISE. Here’s a surprise, the Ohio Turnpike Commission have announced plans to increase tolls as an alternative to privatizing the legendary toll road. Toll increases are reported to be 3% a year for each of the next ten years. Public hearings will begin in early May—go to the http://www.ohioturnpike.org to learn more.

“Thinking is the hardest work there is, which is probably the reason why so few engage in it.” –Henry Ford