Overdrive Extra

Todd Dills

Highway bill highlight reel

| June 28, 2012

USDOT is to compile best practices to ensure that public and state and local government interests are protected in the course of negotiating a PPP.  USDOT is to develop model PPP contracts.

Crashworthiness Standards
The bill includes language directing DOT to study the need for crashworthiness standards for large trucks, including an evaluation of the need for roof strength, pillar strength, air bags, and other occupant protection standards, as well as frontal and back wall standards.

Hazmat
DOT is proscribed from publishing a wetlines rule for two years or until a GAO study determines whether such a rule will be necessary.

PHMSA is to update its accident and release recordkeeping and reporting requirements and direction for DOT to set mandatory standardized training for HM enforcement.

DOT is to set mandatory, standardized training for hazmat enforcement officials and require PHMSA to update its hazmat accident and release information collection, analysis, reporting, and data use methods.

The bill failed to include provisions from the House bill that would have fixed a previous legislative error that extended OSHA’s jurisdiction into areas already regulated by DOT, a prohibition on State hazmat incident reporting requirements that differ from PHMSA’s, and a provision requiring the States to participate in the Hazmat Uniform Carrier Permit Program.

Transportation of Agricultural Commodities and Farm Supplies
Clarifies movement of farm supplies, under the agriculture exemption to the hours of service rule, from a terminal or distribution point to the retail site or farm.

The language also increases air mileage from 100 to 150 and eliminates “in the state” from the language, making it an interstate issue.

Pension Funding Stabilization
Single employer pension programs — stabilizes interest rates that are used to calculate employee contributions. Interest rates are averaged over a 25 year period. Employers pay less into the employees’ pension plan (calculating for higher interest return) and use that savings on investing back into the business. The investments back into the business are then taxed and the government receives additional tax revenue.

Eligibility for Non-Highway Projects
The bill does not expand eligibility to additional non-highway projects. It eliminates eligibility for landscaping and other scenic beautification; historic facilities; and transportation museums.

Minimum State Apportionment
The minimum share of highway funding for each state is increased from 92% to 95% of the total.

Performance Standards
Each state and metropolitan area is required to establish minimum performance standards related to highway and bridge maintenance, congestion and system reliability, safety, freight efficiency, air quality and project delivery.  If states fail to meet these standards they will be required to transfer federal funds from other areas in order to meet the standards.

OverdriveOnline.com strives to maintain an open forum for reader opinions. Click here to read our comment policy.