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Connecticut governor admits to a ‘divide’ with lawmakers over tolls



Connecticut governor admits to a ‘divide’ with lawmakers over tolls
Several opponents of proposed electronic tolling in Connecticut wait outside a closed-door meeting at the state Capitol in Hartford, Connecticut, on Wednesday. Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont was meeting with legislative leaders, hoping to persuade them to authorize tolls in a special legislative session to help generate transportation revenue. Tolling opponents says they’re already taxes too much. (Associated Press: SUSAN HAIGH)

HARTFORD, Conn. — Gov. Ned Lamont acknowledged Wednesday there is a divide between his administration and Connecticut legislators over the need for electronic tolls to generate more state transportation revenue but vowed not to give up on the issue.

While the Democratic-controlled General Assembly adjourned on June 5 without approving a tolling bill, the Democratic governor and former businessman has held out hope that legislation authorizing tolls will finally be passed during a special legislative session. But it remains unclear whether that will happen.

“I would say there was quite a divide in terms of what we do, and I’m not sure that we’ve found a toll bridge to connect us,” Lamont said, following a two-hour closed-door meeting he organized with Democratic and Republican legislative leaders. “But I’m going to try my best. I’ve been doing deals for a long time.”

Lamont and some of his top advisers provided a presentation to the lawmakers about Connecticut’s transportation funding needs, warning that the state faces the possibility of being penalized by the federal government in about 10 years for not keeping enough of its roads and bridges in good repair. The state is on track to spend about $875 million annually on transportation infrastructure, but Lamont’s administration estimates the need is actually about $1.2 billion a year.

The net revenue from tolls has been estimated to be about $800 million annually.

The issue of tolls is a politically contentious one. About a dozen citizens who oppose tolls, many holding signs, showed up at the state Capitol on Wednesday and shouted “no tolls” as Lamont, the legislators and others walked into the meeting. While they credit their lobbying efforts with helping to scuttle a vote during the regular legislative session, the toll opponents plan to keep up the fight.

“It’s a trust issue with me. I’m not going to take it for granted that they’re not going to do anything this time,” said Kevin Kupstis, an informational technology industry worker from Southington, who held signs that read “No Tolls! Cut Spending!” and “Tolls = Tax On Working Poor.”

To help make tolls more affordable and possibly more politically palatable, the package of proposals presented to the lawmakers Wednesday includes a plan for “middle class tax relief” by lowering the state’s lowest personal income tax rate of 3% to 2%.

In Connecticut, the first $10,000 of taxable income for single filers and first $20,000 for joint filers is currently taxed at 3%. Lowering that bottom rate would give all filers a tax break ranging from $90 to $180, according to Lamont’s proposal. There’s also a 20% tolling discount for low-income Connecticut residents; a 30% discount for all Connecticut residents with an EZ-Pass; and a 20% discount for frequent drivers.

The two Republican leaders didn’t appear to know a lot about the income tax proposal, saying Lamont’s presentation ended before the idea was discussed at length. But it didn’t seem to make much of a difference, with both the GOP leaders of the House of Representatives and the Senate reiterating they continue to oppose tolls.

Still upset at not being part of the negotiations on the new two-year state budget, House Minority Leader Themis Klarides of Derby said she believes the Republicans were invited to Wednesday’s meeting because the Democrats don’t have enough support within their own ranks to pass a tolling bill.

“Do I believe they want us in that room to have this conversation? Yes,” Klarides said. “But I believe they want us because they don’t have the votes on their own.”

Despite saying there’s a divide with lawmakers, Lamont contends there is enough support among just the Democratic lawmakers to pass a tolling bill, and he’s working with the Democratic leaders to determine the right time for a vote. Asked if he’s confident there will be a decision on tolls in a special session, Lamont answered he’s “very confident.”



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The Nation

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



atlanta skyline at night
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

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The Nation

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



tanker crash on highway 22
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



truck driving down road
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

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