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2 major bridges in Arkansas closed because of flooding temporarily reopened

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People stand in the middle of Rogers Avenue and look out over the flooded Massard Creek at the intersection of Meandering Way and Rogers Avenue, in Fort Smith, Arkansas, Saturday, May 25, 2019. Rogers Avenue, also known as State Highway 22, is the main east-west thoroughfare in the city.(Associated Press: JAMIE MITCHELL/The Southwest Times Record)

UPDATE 12:08 p.m., Tuesday, May 28

Historic flooding along the Arkansas River that required prompt shutdown of two bridges that span the waterway in the City of Fort Smith are able to be temporarily reopened, according to Arkansas Department of Transportation (ARDOT) officials.

Late Monday night, the U.S. Highway 64/71B (Broadway St.) bridge – known locally as the Midland Bridge – and the I-540 river bridge over the Arkansas River were closed to traffic because of anticipated high water levels impacting roadways leading to both structures. The predicted floodwaters did not rise to the level anticipated last night and after a thorough inspection of the structures, ARDOT engineers have determined they can reopen.

The river crossings will remain open unless high water conditions warrant another closure.

The State Highway 59 Bridge at Barling has operated since last night as the only available Arkansas River crossing in Ft. Smith. At this time, the structure is not anticipated to be impacted by this event.

Multiple segments of State Highways are closed in the River Valley with more expected in the coming days. The latest information on highway closures due to high water is available on our Traveler Information site, IDriveArkansas.com. Late-breaking news is published on our Twitter account. Follow us @myARDOT.

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FORT SMITH, Ark. — The Arkansas Department of Transportation has closed two major bridges and partially closed a third over the Arkansas River at Fort Smith as the waterway surges toward a record crest this week.

Two of the bridges connect Fort Smith and Van Buren, Arkansas — the U.S. Highway 71B bridge (known locally as the Midland Avenue bridge) and the Interstate 540 bridge.

The westbound lane of U.S. 64 between Fort Smith and Moffett, Oklahoma, is also closed.

The closures are almost certain to impact trucking because I-540 is a connector route for trucks going south from I-49 into west central Arkansas.

ARDOT spokesman Danny Straessle said the Highway 59 bridge at Barling downstream from the closed bridges remained open but traffic will have to take a circuitous route to get into Fort Smith because State Highway 22 from Barling into Fort Smith is flooded.

Further downstream, ARDOT has closed the Highway 23 bridge over the Arkansas River.

The next closest bridge downstream that is open is the State Highway 9 bridge at Morrilton, Arkansas.

In all instances, ARDOT said the bridges themselves remain structurally sound; rather it is flooded approaches that required the department to close the bridges.

If someone south of Fort Smith needs to get to I-40, take Highway 255E or up I-49 from U.S. Highway 71.

If someone needs to get into Fort Smith from I-40, they can cross the 59 Bridge and go south down to Highway 255W, which will take them into town.

It is not known how long the bridges will remain closed.

Widespread flooding is occurring in the Tulsa area, where severe thunderstorms are also possible Tuesday. In western Arkansas, the river is expected to crest Wednesday in Van Buren at 42.5 feet (13 meters) — or more than 4 feet (1.2 meters) above its historic crest, which had occurred in 1945.

Forecasters say up to 4 inches of rain is possible this week in the waterlogged areas.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Nation

Drivewyze adds new mountain corridor safety notification service

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With the mountain alerts, Drivewyze subscribers will have their drivers receive in-cab alerts of upcoming safe locations to pull over for brake check inspections, and see prompts to gear low while showing suggested maximum speeds down steep grades. (Courtesy: DRIVEWYZE)

GOLDEN, Colo. — Drivewyze has added to its Drivewyze Safety Notifications service with the launching of mountain corridor safety alerts.

The new service, free to current Drivewyze customers, was released in conjunction with a Colorado Department of Transportation’s news conference that launched its “The Mountain Rules” truck safety campaign.

The conference was held Tuesday near the Mount Vernon Canyon runaway truck ramp, near Golden.

“It’s no secret that our mountains create immense challenges for semi-truck drivers,” said CDOT Executive Director Shoshana Lew.  “The Mountain Rules has a simple mission – to get everyone home safely and this campaign, which supports CDOT’s Whole Safety – Whole System initiative, is a major step towards achieving that goal.”

“I want to dispel any misconceptions, myths or rumors about truck ramps for all commercial carriers who travel our mountain corridors,” said Col. Matthew Packard of the Colorado State Patrol. “Commercial carriers will not be cited by law enforcement for using truck ramps. Should your brakes fail, please save lives and use the ramps.”

With the alerts, Drivewyze subscribers will have their drivers receive in-cab alerts of upcoming safe locations to pull over for brake check inspections and see prompts to gear low while showing suggested maximum speeds down steep grades. It will also alert drivers of upcoming runaway ramps. Colorado is Drivewyze’s first state in the new alert program. Seven Colorado mountain passes are part of the Drivewyze Safety Notifications package, with 22 more states to follow by the end of August.

According to Brian Mofford, vice president of government experience at Drivewyze, Colorado’s I-70 west, which goes from Vail Pass from the west, through Eisenhower Tunnel (elevation 11,158) to Mt. Vernon Canyon to the east, represents 60 miles of difficult driving.

“It’s a challenge for truck drivers, with steep grades and heavy traffic, especially for those new to mountain driving,” Mofford said. “Drivers have to be in tune with their surroundings, check their brakes and be prepared for constant downshifting and speed control. Brakes can get hot and fail for those who are not ready. It’s why we also have notifications for runaway ramps as a last resort safeguard for a safe stop. Our alerts will help keep preparations top of mind to help keep truck drivers and the motoring public safer.”

I-70 is known as having one of the country’s most difficult passes for truck drivers. A runaway truck in April slammed into stopped traffic near Lakewood, killing four people. Other tragedies have been averted thanks to truck drivers using the corridor’s five runaway truck ramps along the route. The Lower Straight Creek runaway truck ramp along westbound I-70 at milepost 211.83 is the most used truck ramp in the United States, being used once a week on average during the summer months.

“The goal is to not have to use the ramps at all, by having drivers better prepared,” Mofford said. “Our alerts will keep safety front and center and prompt drivers to check their brakes, allowing them to cool down, and remind them to downshift to a lower gear.”

In addition to I-70, Drivewyze is providing alerts for Rabbit Ears Pass, Loveland Pass, Monarch Pass, Slickrock Pass, Wolf Creek Pass and Coal Bank Pass.

The mountain corridor alerts join two other Drivewyze Safety Notifications that were introduced last month. Rollover alerts, on targeted exit ramps and curves, are geofenced at 500 locations in 32 states, while l,500 low-bridge warnings are given to drivers approaching bridges in the United States, with 300 more just added on Canadian roadways.

Both the Drivewyze PreClear weigh station bypass application, and the Drivewyze Safety Notifications service, are available to carriers on supported ELDs and other in-cab devices, through the Drivewyze partner network. Subscribers interested in deploying the Drivewyze safety notifications service should contact their ELD or in-cab device provider, or their Drivewyze customer success manager.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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CDL Meals offering special promotion for driver appreciation week

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CDL Meals are chef developed using wholesome, organic ingredients and offer a flavorful balanced meal that includes protein, carbs, and vegetables. (Courtesy: CDL MEALS)

ANAHEIM, Calif. — CDL Meals, the division of Fresh n’ Lean that focuses on nutritious offerings for truck drivers, is offering a special promotion to help transportation companies celebrate National Driver Appreciation Week.

For National Truck Driver Appreciation Week (NTDAW), fleet operators can purchase discounted meals and receive free Hot Logic heating bags.

There is a minimum purchase of 50 meals required to receive the free bag. Purchases of 100 meals receive two free bags.

Companies can also purchase gift cards for drivers to buy meals at their convenience. Orders are being taken through August 30.

The annual NTDAW, taking place this year September 8-14 commemorates and honors all professional drivers for their hard work and commitment to one of the country’s most demanding jobs.

“We are proud to support drivers across the country with delicious food that encourages better health,” said Bob Perry, director of CDL Meals. “This special promotion gives fleets a chance to support their drivers with something that’s good for them, too.”

The nature of truck driving can also lend itself to a less than healthy lifestyle, which is why CDL Meals focuses solely on this underserved profession.

CDL Meals are chef developed using wholesome, organic ingredients and offer a flavorful balanced meal that includes protein, carbs, and vegetables. The meals are delivered fresh and can be refrigerated for up to seven days. The vacuum sealed trays can be heated quickly and enjoyed any time. Along with the meals, CDL provides a driver wellness education booklet with tips and suggestions to improve your health with easy lifestyle changes. Meals are $10 each for purchases up to 100 meals, with cost savings when purchasing more than 150 meals.

CDL Meals was launched earlier this year and was a beneficial part of the healthful transformation for Danny Jewell, 2018 Owner/Operator of the Year, who lost more than 25 pounds with the meal plan and coaching from Bob Perry, the Trucker Trainer.

With more than 50 years on the road and 6 million miles without an incident, Jewell was recognized for his professionalism and commitment to the industry.

 

 

 

 

 

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Safety council says motor vehicle deaths in 2019 projected to go below 40,000

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The estimate for 2019 caps a three-year period in which roadway deaths topped 40,000 each year for the first time since the mid-2000s. (©2019 FOTOSEARCH)

ITASCA, Ill. — Preliminary estimates from the National Safety Council indicate the four-year upward trend in motor vehicle deaths that began in 2015 is ebbing with the number of fatalities in the first six months of 2019 dropping 3 percent compared to the same six-month period in 2018.

An estimated 18,580 people died on U.S. roadways between January and June of this year, compared to the council’s revised estimate of 19,060 during the same period last year. An additional 2.1 million people are estimated to have sustained serious crash-related injuries during the first six months of 2018 – a 1 percent drop from 2018 six-month projections.

The estimate caps a three-year period in which roadway deaths topped 40,000 each year for the first time since the mid-2000s.

A total of 118,315 people died on the roadways between 2015 and 2017, and an estimated 40,000 additional people perished last year.

However, drivers still face the same fatality risk this year as they did when fatalities were eclipsing 40,000 annually, because the estimated annual rate of deaths per miles driven has remained stable – NSC estimates 1.2 deaths per every million vehicle miles traveled, unchanged from 2018 rates.

“While the numbers indicate a slight improvement, the rate of deaths remains stagnant, and 18,580 deaths so far this year is unacceptable,” said Lorraine M. Martin, president and CEO of the National Safety Council. “We cannot accept death as the price of mobility. We urge all drivers to slow down, buckle up, pay attention and drive defensively.”

The council’s early estimates indicate significant progress in some states. In the first half of this year, several states have experienced at least a 10% percent drop in motor vehicle deaths, including Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Missouri, Nevada, Oklahoma and Utah. A sample of states with increases through the first six months include Kentucky (6%), Hawaii (20%), Oregon (6%) and New Mexico (15%).

A complete list of state results is available here.

To help ensure safer roads, NSC urges motorists to:

  • Practice defensive driving. Buckle up, designate a sober driver or arrange alternative transportation, get plenty of sleep to avoid fatigue, and drive attentively, avoiding distractions. Visit nsc.org for defensive driving tips.
  • Recognize the dangers of drugged driving, including impairment from cannabis and opioids. Visit StopEverydayKillers.org to understand the impact of the nation’s opioid crisis.
  • Stay engaged in teens’ driving habits. Visit DriveitHOME.org for resources.
  • Learn about your vehicle’s safety systems and how to use them. Visit MyCarDoesWhat.org for information.
  • Fix recalls immediately. Visit ChecktoProtect.org to ensure your vehicle does not have an open recall.
  • Ask lawmakers and state leaders to protect travelers on state roadways. The NSC State of Safety report shows which states have the strongest and weakest traffic safety laws.
  • Get involved in the Road to Zero Coalition, a group of more than 900 organizations across the country focused on eliminating roadway deaths by 2050. Visit nsc.org/roadtozero to join.

The National Safety Council has tracked fatality trends and issued estimates for nearly 100 years. All estimates are subject to slight increases and decreases as the data mature. NSC collects fatality data every month from all 50 states and the District of Columbia and uses data from the National Center for Health Statistics, so that deaths occurring within one year of the crash and on both public and private roadways – such as parking lots and driveways – are included in the estimates.

Supplemental estimate information can be found here.

The NSC defines “serious” injuries as those requiring medical attention.

The National Safety Council uses data from the National Center for Health Statistics – an arm of the CDC – when calculating its estimates, because these data are the most comprehensive and inclusive numbers available.

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