Trucking news and briefs for Friday, Sept. 18, 2020:
FMCSA adding new driver panel to MCSAC
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is launching a new panel to its Motor Carrier Safety Advisory Committee that will be comprised of truck drivers. The new panel will provide direct feedback to FMCSA on issues facing the driving community, such as safety, hours of service regulations, training, parking and driver experience.
“Truck drivers and other commercial vehicle operators are American heroes who have stepped up during the current public health emergency to keep our economy moving, so their input is essential to strengthening safety on the roads,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao.
The panel will be made up of 20 to 25 drivers from all segments of the commercial motor vehicle industry – tractor-trailer drivers, straight truck drivers, motor coach drivers, hazmat drivers, agriculture haulers and more.
FMCSA says its goal with the new panel “is to capture the wide array of viewpoints and experiences within the CMV community.”
Trucker busted with $3.9M in drugs hidden in rocks
U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers at the Tecate, California, cargo crossing had to break open quartz boulders on Monday, Sept. 14, to find 229 packages of methamphetamine and cocaine hidden inside.
At about 10:45 a.m. on Sept. 14, a truck driver arrived at the Tecate border crossing with a shipment listed on the manifest as multiple tons of beach pebbles and stones, according to a statement from the Border Patrol. The CBP officer completing the inspection for entry to the U.S. referred the driver, truck and shipment to the dock.
At the dock, a CBP officer noticed discrepancies with the shipment, and a CBP canine team screened the shipment, which resulted in positive indications for narcotics, according to the Border Patrol.
Officers searched the truck, tractor-trailer and cargo containing various rocks, and ultimately had to break open the large quartz boulders that were part of the shipment. Inside, officers found packages wrapped with black electrical tape, which had been cemented inside the stones, CBP said.
Officers found 229 packages concealed inside the large rocks – 104 packages of methamphetamine and 125 packages of cocaine. Combined, the approximate 337 pounds of methamphetamine and 223 pounds of cocaine have an estimated street value of almost $3.9 million.
“Hard to believe, but this isn’t the first time CBP officers in California have had to actually break open rocks or other items to get at the narcotics that drug trafficking organizations have hidden inside,” said Jose Haro, officer in charge of the Tecate port of entry. “Our officers are well-trained to notice discrepancies to stop drug shipments like this from making their way into our communities.”
CBP officers seized the tractor-trailer, shipment and narcotics. The driver was not identified.
I-17 closure planned this weekend in Phoenix
The Arizona Department of Transportation will close I-17 Southbound in north Phoenix for a paving project this weekend, Sept. 19-21.
ADOT says drivers should avoid southbound I-17 between Jomax and Deer Valley roads and consider using alternate routes from 2 a.m. Saturday through 3 a.m. Monday.
The agency recommends drivers consider alternate routes via westbound State Route 74 or eastbound Carefree Highway. Another alternate route for drivers heading to the West Valley is southbound Loop 303, which connects with I-10 west of Sarival Avenue in Goodyear.
Southbound I-17 traffic exiting at Jomax Road will detour east and use southbound 19th Avenue and westbound Deer Valley Road.
A new top layer of smooth rubberized asphalt will be added along southbound I-17 this weekend. The freeway has been widened in both directions as part of the improvement project.
Northbound I-17 is scheduled to be closed between Deer Valley and Jomax roads the weekend of Sept. 26-28.