Logbook – December 20081

| December 12, 2008

Border program extended, DOT says
The Bush administration’s cross-border trucking program with Mexico will be extended for two years, FMCSA director John Hill announced Aug. 4.

“I am pleased with the success of our demonstration project,” Hill said, “but the participation has been limited by the uncertainty of the project’s longevity.”

That uncertainty will increase when Bush leaves office Jan. 20, 2009, leaving all federal transportation programs up to his successor. Moreover, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee had approved legislation to stop the cross-border program July 31, only days before Hill’s announcement.

“All along, DOT has said this would be a one-year pilot, so I’m holding them to their word,” said U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore, who introduced the bill to end the program.

U.S. Rep. Jim Oberstar, D-Minn., and two Republicans, U.S. Rep. John Mica of Florida and U.S. Rep. John Duncan of Tennessee, co-sponsored the bill.

The program, which began Sept. 6, allows Mexican trucks to begin traveling beyond a 25-mile zone into the U.S. interior. U.S. trucks participating in the pilot program also are permitted to haul cargo deep into Mexico.

At press time, FMCSA had granted authority to 27 Mexican carriers to operate 101 trucks in the United States, while 10 U.S. carriers had been granted authority to operate 52 trucks in Mexico. Hill said more carriers will participate once the uncertainty about the program’s future has been removed.

Last December, Congress attempted to end the cross-border program by passing legislation banning funding to “establish” such a thing. DOT interpreted this to mean it was barred only from starting a new program, not from continuing the current one. A federal lawsuit to stop the program is pending.
- Dean Smallwood

ATA fights restrictive ports policy
The ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach announced their Clean Trucks Program stays on schedule, despite an American Trucking Associations lawsuit against it.

The ATA filed a complaint July 28 for declaratory judgment and injunctive relief in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California. The group charged that the Clean Trucks Program unlawfully re-regulates the industry by limiting port access to trucking companies in port-approved concession contracts.

“Despite this litigation, we are still moving full speed ahead toward our goal of reducing pollution from the truck fleet by 80 percent by 2012,” Long Beach Port Executive Director Richard Steinke said. To reduce fuel emissions, the ports gradually are barring older trucks from their premises while providing financial incentives for concessionaires to buy newer ones and retrofit others.

The Los Angeles port will require all truckers on the premises to be employees, not independent contractors, of licensed motor carriers that hold concessionaire agreements with the port. Exceptions will be allowed for owner-operators not regularly doing business with the port.

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