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Overdrive Staff | June 01, 2012

SURFACE TRADE between the United States and its North American neighbors was up 17.4 percent in February from the same month in 2011. In February, 87.4 percent of U.S. trade with Canada and Mexico moved via land.

AFTER SHEDDING jobs in March for the first time since July 2011, for-hire trucking companies added 1,800 payroll jobs in April, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

AN AMENDED INTERMODAL equipment rule was given to the Office of Management and Budget from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration in April. The rule takes responsibility away from motor carriers to prepare a driver-vehicle inspection report of intermodal freight even if no damage, defects or deficiencies are made known to the driver.

Congress piecing together multiyear highway bill

House and Senate conferees have started work to pass a two-year surface transportation funding bill – the first multi-year bill in seven years.

Conference members met for the first time May 8 to work on a compromise between House and Senate proposals. Funding is currently provided through a three-month extension that ends June 30.

While the House and Senate bills are similar in length and scope, the House’s version of the bill addresses practically none of the policy included in the Senate bill. The inclusion of the environmental policy and the Keystone Pipeline, both of which drew veto threats from the White House, indicate that conference could be difficult.

Also in the omnibus bills are other points that could impact owner-operators, including an electronic onboard recorder mandate.

Both versions of the bill propose to increase the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act funding from $122 million to $1 billion annually, which has come under fire by OOIDA for funding too many public-private toll projects. The Federal Highway Administration administers the program to distribute loans to major surface transportation projects.

Other groups, like the Truck Rental and Leasing Association, are urging Congress to extend in the bill expiring tax incentives aimed at accelerating the production of natural gas resources and utilizing the alternative fuel in the industry.

The supported incentives include tax credits and rebates for fuel production, fuel purchases, infrastructure development and vehicle purchases.

— Staff reports

CSA change could help flatbedders, hurt hazmat haulers

Flatbed carriers will get some relief on their safety rating under a change in how load securement is weighted in the CSA program.

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