TENNESSEE. One lane of westbound I-40 near the North Carolina border has been reopened following the Jan. 31 rockslide that closed both westbound lanes. Transportation officials intend to keep a lane open during clean-up operations. A second phase to stabilize the mountainside is set to begin in late March. A 1,500-ton boulder was removed that could have fallen on the roadway.
WASHINGTON. A state House bill would reclassify port truckers, including owner-operators, as employees. The proposal would cover drayage truckers and contractors who drive on property of the ports of Seattle and Tacoma. Supporters say the state is missing out on tax revenue paid by employees, while opponents say the measure would undermine how trucking is performed.
Truce in truck weight debate
The American Trucking Associations and the Association of American Railroads are backing a truck weight limit freeze in the House transportation appropriations bill in hopes a unified front will hasten passage of the legislation.
The current funding bill ends March 31, the latest funding extension Congress approved after the last omnibus appropriations bill expired in 2009.
The House rules committee was expected to review the Republicans’ H.R. 7, or the American Energy and Infrastructure Jobs Act, in mid-February. The House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Feb. 3 had passed the five-year, $260-billion funding bill, which contained an allowance for states to opt for a 97,000-pound limit for single-trailer trucks with six axles.
Later, the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure voted to amend the bill to freeze weight and lengths during a three-year study on potential impacts of heavier trucks.
Congress hasn’t passed stand-alone bills to freeze or increase truck weights or lengths in recent years.
— Jill Dunn
U.S. SPOT MARKET loads on TransCore’s network declined 14 percent in December from November but were 25 percent higher than the previous year. Spot market capacity increased 9 percent from the previous month and 24 percent over a year earlier.
FOR-HIRE TRUCKING added 5,300 jobs on a seasonally adjusted basis in January, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Payroll employment in for-hire trucking was up by 51,500, or 4 percent, from January 2011. Employment is up 7.2 percent from the bottom in March 2010, but it remains 9 percent below the peak in January 2007.
CLASS 8 TRUCK total net orders for January were forecast at 24,900 to 25,200 units for all major North American truck makers, reports ACT Research Co. and FTR Associates. January orders were down 17 percent from December and 9 percent lower than January 2011, says FTR.