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“Coincidence” may create substantial traffic snarl just days after Pennsylvania roadway deemed safe

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Congestion
After Route 30 traffic delays stemming from bridge repairs needed following a June, 2019, incident in which a truck's cargo hit the bridge in Mountville Township, Penn.,, additional repairs will be necessary when another load of cargo struck the same bridge--just six days after initial repairs were completed (© FOTOSEARCH)

“I would call this an unlucky coincidence,” said Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PDOT) spokesman Dave Thompson as reported in a November 24 article in Lancaster Online.

Thompson was referring to last week’s collision of a truck hauling a load described as a “long shed” westbound on U.S. Route 30 under the Hill Street bridge in the Mountville Township, located about 15 miles west of Lancaster, Penn. While the clearance of the bridge is officially 14-feet 4-inches above Route 30 and the notification sign indicates 14-feet 0-inches, vehicles exceeding 13-feet 6-inches are not allowed through the underpass. Whether the height of the load being hauled originally exceeded the threshold is unclear; however, based on the citation for failure to properly secure a load, it may be a case in which the shed shifted during transport and resulted in the collision.

The coincidence Thompson notes is a product of a June 3, 2019, collision of another load hauled by truck with the same bridge. The driver of this truck, carrying a lift that apparently raised enough during transport to strike the bridge, was also cited for failure to secure a load. Initially, PDOT inspectors noted the damage from the June incident was cosmetic. But by the time repairs finished and traffic permanently reopened under the bridge, the total repair bill came to $500,000. The repair was officially completed November 14, just six days before the second incident.

Central-Penn Transportation (CPT) noted that truckers are aware that posted bridge clearances do not always reflect actual conditions. Matt Rhodes, president of CPT told Lancaster Online, “A bridge can be marked something when it’s built, and then they’ll pave the road.” The Hill Street bridge was constructed in 1965, and PDOT’s Dave Thompson confirms the posted clearance of 14-feet 0-inches is accurate.

Thompson noted that while GPS is a great tool, all roads are not necessarily “GPS-friendly.” He added that in Pennsylvania, oversized loads normally are steered clear of questionable routes during the permitting process. Likewise, carriers of any load exceeding 14-feet 6-inches in height are required to look to a traffic consultant to verify a route is acceptable for both the truck and its cargo.

The sad part of both incidents is that Route 30 may have been acceptable when both loads departed their origination points, but the drivers failed to ensure their cargo was adequately secured. The result will be another round of repairs for the bridge. PDOT inspectors have yet to reveal the estimated extent, cost or timeline of repairs. The first round created enough congestion to substantially impact traffic patterns in the area. If the extent of damage from the second incident equals or exceeds that in June, travelers could be in for another extended round of traffic headaches.

According to PDOT traffic volume statistics, over 58,000 vehicles travel through Mountville along U.S Route 30 daily, making it the second most heavily-traveled route to and from Lancaster for points west of the city. With over 2,000 vehicles crossing the state-maintained Hill Street bridge, the overpass is one of two in the township crossing above U.S. 30, a route essentially bisecting Mountville east to west.

For information on traffic volume statistics along all Pennsylvania roadways, see https://www.penndot.gov/ProjectAndPrograms/Planning/Maps/Pages/Traffic-Volume.aspx

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Giovanni Socci

    November 27, 2019 at 7:56 am

    If you are talking about Pa,U.S.A. why then place a very european picture? european trucks.

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The Nation

ATRI releases annual list of top 100 truck bottlenecks; Atlanta makes list 3 times

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Three different areas of Atlanta made ATRI’s list of most congested bottlenecks. (iStock Photo)

ARLINGTON, Va. — The American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) has released its annual list highlighting the most congested bottlenecks for trucks in America.

The 2020 Top Truck Bottleneck List assesses the level of truck-involved congestion at 300 locations on the national highway system. The analysis, based on truck GPS data from over 1 million heavy duty trucks uses several customized software applications and analysis methods, along with terabytes of data from trucking operations to produce a congestion impact ranking for each location. ATRI’s truck GPS data is also used to support the U.S. DOT’s Freight Mobility Initiative. The bottleneck locations detailed in this latest ATRI list represent the top 100 congested locations, although ATRI continuously monitors more than 300 freight-critical locations.

The intersection of I-95 and State Route 4 in Fort Lee, New Jersey is once again the No. 1 freight bottleneck in the country. The rest of the Top 10 includes:

  1. Atlanta: I-285 at I-85 (North)
  2. Nashville: I-24/I-40 at I-440 (East)
  3. Houston: I-45 at I-69/US 59
  4. Atlanta, GA: I-75 at I-285 (North)
  5. Chicago, IL: I-290 at I-90/I-94
  6. Atlanta, GA: I-20 at I-285 (West)
  7. Cincinnati, OH: I-71 at I-75
  8. Los Angeles, CA: SR 60 at SR 57
  9. Los Angeles, CA: I-710 at I-105

“ATRI’s bottleneck analysis is an important tool for TDOT as we work to maximize the safety and efficiency of our transportation system, and ensure we are making the smartest investments possible,” said Tennessee Department of Transportation Assistant Bureau Chief Freight & Logistics Dan Pallme. “The additional capacity we are providing as part of the ongoing I-440 Reconstruction Project should improve the safety and reliability of this important corridor, which we know is critical to freight movement.”

ATRI’s analysis, which utilized data from 2019, found that the number of locations experiencing significant congestion — with average daily speeds of 45 MPH or less — has increased 92 percent in just five years, far outpacing the 10 percent growth in traffic congestion for that same time period.

“ATA has been beating the drum about the continued degradation of our infrastructure, and thanks to ATRI’s research we can see exactly how decades of ignoring the problem are impacting not just our industry but our economy and commuters everywhere,” said American Trucking Associations President and CEO Chris Spear. “This report should sound the alarm for policymakers that the cost of doing nothing is too high and provide a roadmap of where to target investments to really solve our nation’s mounting infrastructure crisis.”

For access to the full report, including detailed information on each of the 100 top congested locations, please visit ATRI’s website at TruckingResearch.org.

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The Nation

Stretch of Highway 22 in Oregon closed after tanker crash, diesel spill

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Highway 22 between Idanha and Santiam Junction is unlikely to reopen until Friday or Saturday as crews remove contaminated soil in a roadside ditch and rebuild a 600-foot section of roadway, the Oregon Department of Transportation said. (Courtesy: Oregon State Police)

IDANHA, Ore. — A stretch of Highway 22 will be closed for much of this week as crews clean up gasoline and diesel fuel that leaked out of a crashed tanker truck near Idanha along the North Santiam River, state transportation authorities said Monday.

The highway between Idanha and Santiam Junction is unlikely to reopen until Friday or Saturday as crews remove contaminated soil in a roadside ditch and rebuild a 600-foot section of roadway, the Oregon Department of Transportation said.

An oil sheen was visible on the North Santiam River downstream of the crash site, but officials said most of the tanker’s oil seeped into the ditch, where it was absorbed by the soil. It’s unclear how much entered the river, the Statesman Journal reported.

The city of Salem said Monday that its drinking water is safe and the oil from the spill has not reached its water treatment plant near Stayton, which is about 30 miles (48 kilometers) away from the crash. The oil will take several days to reach the plant, the city said, and teams will test the river water at multiple locations this week. Crews have set up absorbent berms to capture the oil on the water.

If any fuel is detected in the river, the city will close the water intake gates as it did in a similar situation three years ago.

The crash on Sunday closed Highway 22 near Detroit and Santiam Junction. The truck was carrying 10,600 gallons of fuel total — 6,500 gallons of gasoline in a tanker trailer and 4,100 gallons of diesel in the truck’s tanker.

About 7,800 gallons of fuel emptied into a roadside ditch and the rest was recovered, according to Oregon Department of Environmental Quality officials.

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The Nation

FMCSA final rule lowers annual registration costs for motor carriers

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The reduction of the current 2019 registration year fees range from approximately $3 to $2,712 per entity, depending on the number of vehicles owned or operated by the affected entities. (iStock Photo)

WASHINGTON — Motor carriers will now see a reduction in the price they must pay to register their vehicles. On February 13, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration released a final rule that realigns the fees for the Unified Carrier Registration Plan.

According to the document posted on the federal register last week, this rule establishes reductions in the annual registration fees the states collect from motor carriers, motor private carriers of property, brokers, freight forwarders and leasing companies for the UCR Plan and Agreement for the registration years beginning in 2020.

“For the 2020 registration year, the fees will be reduced by 14.45% below the 2018 registration fee level to ensure that fee revenues collected do not exceed the statutory maximum, and to account for the excess funds held in the depository,” the document reads. “The fees will remain at the same level for 2021 and subsequent years unless revised in the future.”

The reduction of the current 2019 registration year fees range from approximately $3 to $2,712 per entity, depending on the number of vehicles owned or operated by the affected entities.

The UCR Plan and the 41 States participating in the UCR Agreement establish and collect fees from motor carriers, motor private carriers of property, brokers, freight forwarders and leasing companies. The UCR Plan and Agreement are administered by a 15-member board of directors; 14 appointed from the participating states and the industry, plus the Deputy Administrator of FMCSA or another Presidential appointee from the Department, according to the final rule.

Revenues collected are allocated to the participating states and the UCR Plan. If annual revenue collections will exceed the statutory maximum allowed, then the UCR Plan must request adjustments to the fees. In addition, any excess funds held by the UCR Plan after payments are made to the states and for administrative costs are retained in the UCR depository, and fees subsequently charged must be adjusted further to return the excess revenues held in the depository.

Adjustments in the fees are requested by the UCR Plan and approved by FMCSA. These two provisions are the reasons for the two- stage adjustment adopted in this final rule.

“While each motor carrier will realize a reduced burden, fees are considered by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Circular A–4, Regulatory Analysis as transfer payments, not costs. Transfer payments are payments from one group to another that do not affect total resources available to society. Therefore, transfers are not considered in the monetization of societal costs and benefits of rulemakings,” according to the document.

The rule states that the total state revenue target is more than $107 million.

For more information or the read the rule in its entirety, visit https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/regulations/rulemaking/2020-01761.

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