| August 07, 2007

Drivers placed out of service for noncompliance with hours-of-service rules increased slightly, as 4.9 percent of all inspections resulted in a driver being placed out of service for HOS violations, up from 4.5 percent in 2006. While results in some enforcement categories increased slightly in 2007 over Roadcheck 2006, the public should not be alarmed, American Trucking Associations says; these figures do not mean that trucking is less safe, but that inspectors have improved their skill in selecting trucks and drivers for inspections.
- From Staff Reports

U.S. Xpress Executives Plan to Take Carrier Private
U.S. Xpress Enterprises Co-Chairmen Patrick Quinn and Max Fuller have announced a plan, through their jointly-owned Mountain Lake Acquisition Co., to take the Chattanooga, Tenn., truckload carrier private by acquiring all the outstanding Class A common stock shares that they don’t already own.

MLAC has obtained a commitment letter from SunTrust Bank and SunTrust Capital Markets to provide $432 million to fund the transaction. It also has retained Stifel Nicolaus as its financial adviser in connection with determining the offer price.

In a June 22 letter to the U.S. Xpress board of directors, Quinn and Fuller said their offer of $20 a share represents a 41 percent premium over the $14.23 per share closing price on June 21 and a 44 percent premium over the $13.88 average reported closing price for the 30 days ended June 21.

“We intend to pursue the transaction through a tender offer we expect to be commenced as soon as practicable,” Quinn, who is listed as MLAC president, and Fuller, who is listed as CEO, said in the letter.
- Avery Vise

Report: Half of Urban Interstates Congested
Nearly 52 percent of U.S. urban interstates are congested, and traffic fatality rates are up slightly, but road surface and bridge conditions have improved, according to the Reason Foundation’s latest annual highway performance report.

“Gridlock isn’t going away,” said the study’s lead author, David T. Hartgen, a professor at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. “States are going to have to prioritize and direct their transportation money to projects specifically designed to reduce congestion if we are going to reverse this troubling trend.”

Drivers in California, Minnesota, New Jersey and North Carolina are stuck in the worst traffic, with more than 70 percent of urban interstates in those states qualifying as congested, the study shows.

The Reason Foundation study measured the performance of state-owned roads and highways from 1984 to 2005 in 12 different categories, including traffic fatalities, congestion, pavement condition, bridge condition, highway maintenance and administrative costs, to determine each state’s ranking and cost-effectiveness.

The report found that fatality rates per 100 million vehicle miles vary significantly from state to state, from 0.79 in Massachusetts to 2.256 in Montana. The national average was 1.453 fatalities, up slightly from 1.440 in 2004.

The study does find some good news for drivers: The percentage of roads in “poor condition” fell sharply for both interstates and major rural roads. Since 1998, the percentage of poor urban interstate mileage has been reduced by 31 percent, the study says. The number of bridges deemed deficient, meaning they are eligible for federal repair dollars, also fell slightly in 2005.

In the overall rankings, North Dakota and South Carolina took the top spots in highway performance for the second consecutive year. Meanwhile, New Jersey’s gridlocked highways, poor pavement conditions and high repair costs put the state last for the eighth consecutive year.

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