Rhode Island requests appeal hearing for truck-only toll ruling

Trucking news and briefs for Monday, Feb. 20, 2023:

Rhode Island files to appeal unconstitutional truck toll ruling

The Rhode Island Turnpike and Bridge Authority and Rhode Island Department of Transportation Director Peter Alviti Jr. have filed a brief seeking an appeal to overturn a ruling that banned truck-only tolls in the state.

A federal court determined in September that the state’s toll scheme aimed solely at tractor-trailers was unconstitutional and violated the Constitution’s Commerce Clause by discriminating against out-of-state economic interests in order to favor in-state interests and by designing the tolls in a way that "does not fairly approximate" in-state motorists' "use of the facilities under any relevant measurement."

The state filed a notice in October to signal its plan to appeal, and after an extension was granted in December, RITBA and Alviti filed a brief Feb. 10 arguing its case for an appeal. They called for oral arguments being heard because “the district court struck down a state statute on federal constitutional grounds,” adding that the case “presents important questions relating to federalism and the dormant Commerce Clause.”

RITBA and Alviti argued that using the Commerce Clause to determine the tolls were unconstitutional “transformed the dormant Commerce Clause into a mechanism for federal courts to displace the reasoned judgments of state legislatures seeking to solve complex infrastructure problems.”

[Related: California Trucking Association again seeks injunction to block state AB 5 contractor law]

Rhode Island argued that the RhodeWorks tolling program is not discriminatory, contrary to the district court’s ruling. “Discrimination, for dormant Commerce Clause purposes, requires similarly situated “out-of-state competitors” to be treated worse than their in-state competition,” the state said. “Under RhodeWorks, that never happens. An un-tolled Class 6 cement mixer does not compete with a tolled Class 8 tractor-trailer that hauls goods.”

Additionally, the state argued, the daily $20 cap for tolls along I-95 and $40 daily cap for all tolls in the state “are open to all tolled tractor-trailers, regardless of their state of registration.”

At the time the tolls were ruled unconstitutional and shut down, Rhode Island was collecting tolls at 12 locations across the state, with a 13th in development. RIDOT said on its website it had hoped to collect almost $45 million in tolls each year since taking effect in 2018.

[Related: Rhode Island truck-only tolls finally defeated in court]

Used truck sales soared in January

Preliminary used Class 8 retail volumes (same dealer sales) increased 24% month-over-month from December to January and were 2% higher compared to January of 2022, according to the latest preliminary release of the State of the Industry: U.S. Classes 3-8 Used Trucks, published by ACT Research.

Compared to December, used trucks’ average retail price fell by 5% in January, while miles increased by 9% and average age fell by 2%.

Compared to January 2022, the average retail price was down 14%, while miles were up 4% and age was flat.

Steve Tam, Vice President at ACT Research, said the increase in sales month to month “was facilitated by a slew of new truck sales at the end of 2022.” He added that ACT views the uptick in sales last month “as a bit of an outlier." Researchers continue to forecast sales to be lower in 2023 than 2022.

“The preliminary average retail prices of a used Class 8 truck sold in January dropped 5%" from December, "to just over $75,600,” he said. 

[Related: Three years after COVID onset and subsequent truck parts shortages, owner-operators navigate a rocky procurement landscape]

Love’s plans to open 25 new travel stops, 15 maintenance shops this year

Love’s Travel Stops announced last week it plans to continue its strategic growth plans by adding new locations, partnerships and amenities in 2023.

This year, the company plans to open 25 travel stops and remodel existing locations, open 15 Love’s Truck Care and Speedco locations, and add services and partnerships with top brands to get drivers back on the road quickly.

In addition to opening 25 new locations in 2023, Love’s will soon announce plans to remodel existing stores over the next several years, strengthening the company's commitment to maintaining safe and clean locations. The plans include everything from bathroom updates to complete remodels. Stores undergoing updates will remain open during the process.

Customers will also see the continued expansion of Love’s-branded snacks and food items, including trail mixes, beef jerky, cold-pressed juices and fresh food items like mac and cheese, quesadillas and BBQ offerings this summer.

Love’s will also add 30 new restaurants, continuing to be one of the top restaurant providers in the U.S. with more than 1,100 locations.

The company will also add 80-100 additional Amazon Lockers this year, bringing the total to more than 200, and new and exclusive deals for customers through the Love’s Connect app.

Specifically for truck drivers, Love’s is adding 15 new truck care locations, 75 maintenance bays, 75 emergency roadside service trucks, two tire retread centers and expanded services to fleet yards.

Love’s Financial and Factoring services will also continue to help get drivers back on the road quickly with its bundled service options and expansion into adjacent factoring industries.

[Related: BP acquires TA for 1.3 billion]

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