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Alabama lawmakers weigh possible gas tax measure in March session

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Courtesy: YOUTUBE Rep. Bill Poole, who is expected to sponsor the legislation, said the state has thousands of bridges over 50 years old, many of which are functionally obsolete.

By KIM CHANDLER

MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Alabama lawmakers could debate a possible gasoline tax increase to fund road and bridge construction when they return to Montgomery in March.

Citing congested and neglected roadways and crumbling bridges, legislative leaders said a gas tax measure to improve infrastructure will be a major topic of the 2019 session.

“The topic of the day would be the gas revenue measure. We are trying to get a piece of legislation ready for that,” Alabama House Speaker Mac McCutcheon told The Associated Press.

Alabama’s current state gas tax of 18 cents a gallon has been unchanged since 1992 and is among the lowest in the nation, according to comparisons from the American Petroleum Institute. However, local governments can have their own separate gas taxes.

“You cannot build roads for the price of what we built them in 1992. If we are going to stay competitive in the economic growth of our state, and attract companies to produce jobs, we’ve got to have a good infrastructure in place,” McCutcheon said.

McCutcheon said they have discussed ideas such as linking the gas tax to a regional average or indexing. He said the goal is to provide a revenue stream that will not be burdensome at the pump.

“Everybody hates to say gas tax, but the reality is you are going to have to have revenue to address the structural issues,” said Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh, R-Anniston.

“What we’ve got to determine what are we willing to bite off at this point in time. Marsh said lawmakers will have to discuss with constituents the tradeoff of ‘paying more gasoline’ to get safer and less congested roads.”

Rep. Bill Poole, who is expected to sponsor the legislation, said the state has thousands of bridges over 50 years old, many of which are functionally obsolete.

“We fund our infrastructures at one of the lowest levels in the southeast. We have an aging infrastructure and a growing population,” said Poole, R-Tuscaloosa.

A gas tax bill faltered two years ago.

In the 2017 legislative session, House leaders did not bring a proposed gas tax increase up for a floor vote after it became clear the measure did not have the votes to pass.

While there is more optimism among proponents for the legislation in 2019, the political landscape remains complicated.

“It’s going to be a real hard sell for a lot of people,” said Rep. John Rogers, D-Birmingham.

There are also expected to be tussles over where the money goes. Adding to the uncertainty, the incoming Alabama Legislature has a large number of freshmen — with more than two dozen alone in 105-member House — who will be navigating the issue for the first time.

House Minority Leader Anthony Daniels said the Democratic caucus has so far not been included in any discussions with the Republican majority about a bill. “They did this last time and look what happened. It went down in the flames,” said Daniels, D-Huntsville.

Jim Page, president of the West Alabama Chamber of Commerce and chairman of Alliance for Alabama’s Infrastructure, a business-affiliated group promoting infrastructure development, said Alabama’s low state gas tax “may sound good at first” but “all it really means is Alabama’s road and bridge system is just getting left behind.”

 

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The Nation

Big rig loaded with mail crashes in Little Rock; tractor ends up on guard rail

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Part of a tractor hangs over the Interstate 440 railing after the driver couldn’t decide which ramp to take and crashed. (Courtesy: ARKANSAS DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION)

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — The old saying about those who deliver the mail goes something like this: “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.”

But Sunday some indecision did.

The Arkansas Department of Transportation posted on its social media site that the driver of a tractor-trailer carrying a load of mail couldn’t decide which ramp to take off Interstate 440 Terminal Interchange with Interstate 30 and ended up striking the guard rail.

The tractor separated from the trailer and wound up hanging partially over the bridge railing.

Officials said one of the tractor’s fuel tanks became dislodged and fell onto Interstate 30 below causing an explosion and fire.

The driver was taken to a hospital, but her condition is unknown.

Traffic was delayed on both I-30 and I-440 which is the main thoroughfare between Little Rock and the Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport.

 

 

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Colorado DOT kicks off project to install media cable barriers on I-25

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DENVER — The Colorado Department of Transportation kicked off a seven-month project in June that aims to install new median cable barriers along Interstate 25 between Pueblo and Colorado Springs as a safety measure to prevent median crossover crashes.

According to an article in the Journal of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, the Colorado agency noted in a June 14 statement that it is using a “multi-phased approach” based on vehicle crash history and traffic volumes to specifically locate the new cable median barriers – part of its Whole System – Whole Safety initiative that takes a systematic approach to safety that includes driving behaviors, the built environment, and operations.

“Improving the safety of Colorado’s transportation network by reducing the rate and severity of crashes and improving safety conditions for travelers is our main goal,” Shoshana Lew, executive director of the Colorado DOT, said in a statement. “The statewide program’s whole system approach is unique in how it brings together all areas of the driving experience, resulting in improved and enhanced safety for motorists.”

The $3.5 million project – expected to be completed by December – will remove any existing barrier structures and replace it with media cable barrier along with “added offset” from the travel lane and flattened median side slopes.

That will continue to eliminate vehicle cross-over crashes, the agency noted, while additionally reducing nuisance hits as the northbound cable barrier can be removed. The net effect will allow better maintenance access, reduced maintenance costs, better traffic flow, and further enhancing safety, Colorado DOT said.

A 68-page study wrapped up last year by the Center for Transportation Research and Education at Iowa State University determined that cable median barriers “significantly” reduce motor vehicle crash fatalities and injuries, though they do lead to an increase in “property-damage only” crashes, according to the collected data examined by the school’s researchers.

That study found that out of the 6,718 median-related crashes it examined over a nine-year period stretching from 2007 to 2015, cable media barrier safety devices reduced fatalities, incapacitating injuries, and non-incapacitating injuries by 68.7, 36.8, and 23.9 percent, respectively.

 

 

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The Nation

Love’s opens new facilities in Michigan, Illinois and Pennsylvania

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The Hampshire, Illinois, location is located at 201 Love’s Crossing near Interstate 90 and U.S. Highway 20. (Courtesy: LOVE’S TRAVEL STOPS)

OKLAHOMA CITY — Love’s Travel Stops is now serving customers in three new locations — Bridgeport Charter Township, Michigan; Slippery Rock, Pennsylvania; and Hampshire, Illinois.

The Bridgeport Charter Township location at 6560 Dixie Highway (near Interstate 75 and Exit 144) adds 80 new jobs to Saginaw County and 87 truck parking spaces.

The Slippery Rock stop off Exit 105 and I-79, brings 40 jobs and 48 truck parking spaces.

The third location in Hampshire at 201 Love’s Crossing (near Interstate 90 and U.S. Highway 20), has 177 truck parking spaces and brings 80 jobs.

In total, Love’s is adding 312 truck parking spaces for professional drivers.

“These three locations place us in the perfect spots to serve more customers,” said Tom Love, executive chairman and founder of Love’s. “All are along major interstates that are popular for trade routes and leisure travel. We’re proud to add truck parking in areas where our customers need it.”

The travel stops are open 24/7 and offer many amenities.

Bridgeport, Michigan

More than 12,000 square feet of space, Hardee’s restaurant, 87 truck parking spaces, 87 car parking spaces, eight diesel bays, Speedco location on-site, four RV parking spaces, eight showers, laundry facilities, bean to cup gourmet coffee, brand-name snacks, Mobile to Go Zone with the latest electronics, CAT scale.

Hampshire, Illinois

More than 10,000 square feet of space, Arby’s restaurant, 177 truck parking spaces, 53 car parking spaces, nine diesel bays, Speedco location on-site, three RV parking spaces, seven showers, laundry facilities, bean to cup gourmet coffee, brand-name snacks, Mobile to Go Zone with the latest electronics, CAT scale.

Slippery Rock, Pennsylvania

More than 10,000 square feet of space, Subway restaurant, 48 truck parking spaces, 60 car parking spaces, seven diesel bays, Love’s Truck Tire Care center, two RV parking spaces, six showers, laundry facilities, bean to cup gourmet coffee, brand-name snacks, Mobile to Go Zone with the latest electronics, CAT scale.

In honor of the grand opening, Love’s will host ribbon cuttings and donate $2,000 to the Bridgeport Historical Society, Northern Butler County Feed My Sheep Food Cupboard in Slippery Rock and Hampshire High School.

 

 

 

 

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