News roundup, May 21: FMCSA moving to remote compliance reviews during pandemic

Updated May 22, 2020
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Trucking news and briefs for Thursday, May 21, 2020:

FMCSA to conduct remote compliance reviews during COVID-19 pandemic
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration on Wednesday issued new guidance on how it will conduct compliance reviews during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The agency said it will leverage “all available technology to access information and records” to limit the risk of coronavirus exposure to trucking company employees and FMCSA investigators. Safety ratings will be assigned using the same standards as normal, even if no on-site review has occurred.

FMCSA is required to conduct compliance reviews to make sure owners and/or operators of commercial vehicles are fit to operate safely.

“Although the definition of ‘compliance review’ in 49 CFR 385.3 describes these reviews as ‘on-site,’ in practice, the advent of electronic recordkeeping and other technology now allows FMCSA to perform the same investigative functions remotely that it could perform previously only by in-person reviews of the motor carrier’s files,” the agency said in the guidance.

The agency added that motor carriers can access and transmit their information to FMCSA through a portal and upload documents securely. Documents can also be faxes or emailed.

“FMCSA may also use email and telephone and video calls as a substitute for in-person interaction with motor carrier officials during the compliance review or to review the findings of the compliance review with company officials during the close out,” FMCSA said.

The guidance allowing for remote compliance reviews is effective immediately and will expire when the COVID-19 national emergency declaration is revoked.

Central Michigan flooding closes highways, major chemical plant
Catastrophic flooding in central Michigan has closed U.S. Highway 10 near Midland, Michigan, and closed the Dow Chemical headquarters in the city. Heavy rain led to flooding that has since caused two dams along the Tittabawassee River upstream of Midland to fail.

The flooding has closed U.S. 10 in both directions between Business U.S. 10 and U.S. 127, according to the Michigan Department of Transportation. Several state highways in the region are also closed due to flooding. The latest road updates can be seen here.

Dow Chemical Company, one of the largest chemical producers in the world, said in a statement Wednesday that it had safely shut down all operating units at its headquarters except for facilities required for managing chemical containment.

According to a report from CNN, officials in the area say waters have begun receding in many areas, but a number of roads are still impassable.

On the western side of the state next week, MDOT crews will close the U.S. 31 Business Route in Pentwater between Longbridge Road and 6th Street for flood mitigation. The complete closure will be in effect from 8 a.m. Tuesday, May 26, through 5 p.m. Friday, May 29.

Love’s adds 190 truck parking spaces at new South Carolina, Texas locations
Love’s Travel Stops this week opened two new locations in Summerton, South Carolina, and Laredo, Texas.

The South Carolina store, located off of I-95, offers 103 truck parking spaces, McDonald’s and Subway restaurants, nine diesel lanes, seven showers, laundry facilities, an on-site Speedco and more.

The Texas location, off of Highway 1472, boasts 87 truck parking spaces; Godfather’s Pizza, Chester’s Chicken and Subway restaurants; eight diesel lanes; laundry facilities; Love’s Truck Care; and more.