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OOIDA to appeal dismissal of suit challenging legality of PA Turnpike tolls

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Act 44 and 89, passed in 2008 and 2013 respectively, ordered the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission to send $450 million a year to PennDOT.  The Turnpike is in debt approaching $12 billion, and the Auditor General has labeled the state's transportation funding system “unsustainable.” (The Trucker file photo)

GRAIN VALLEY, Mo. —  The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association will appeal a ruling issued Thursday in a class-action lawsuit regarding tolls on users of the Pennsylvania Turnpike.

The lawsuit was brought last year by OOIDA and the National Motorists Association in the federal court in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. The associations made up of truck drivers and other motorists challenged the constitutionality of the excessive tolls imposed upon drivers on the Pennsylvania Turnpike.

Thursday, Judge Yvette Kane granted the motions to dismiss of the defendants, which included the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission, Gov. Tom Wolf, and Leslie Richards, Pennsylvania’s secretary of transportation.

OOIDA expressed disappointment over the ruling, but is clearly not discouraged.

In the opinion, the judge acknowledged that plaintiffs’ complaint “credibly alleges that Pennsylvania’s policy decisions related to transportation have resulted in a statutory scheme that disproportionately burdens Turnpike travelers with the costs of a state-wide transportation system that is of no direct benefit to them.”

“It’s pretty clear she understands the situation,” said Todd Spencer, president of OOIDA. “But she also stated quite clearly that no definitive controlling precedent supports either side.”

“It appears to us that she chose to apply a standard from a Supreme Court case from back in 1970 that focused on burdens imposed under a state’s regulations about agricultural products, rather than a standard from more recent in Supreme Court cases that spoke directly to user fees, which is what the tolls are in Pennsylvania,” he said.

The association says the case is now poised for review by the Third Circuit Court of Appeals.

“Our case has been widely reported in the press and incorrectly linked with other reports alerting the public to a looming transportation crisis, driven in part by the same statutory scheme that our lawsuit challenges,” Spencer said.

Act 44 and 89, passed in 2008 and 2013 respectively, ordered the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission to send $450 million a year to PennDOT.  The Turnpike is in debt approaching $12 billion, and the Auditor General has labeled the state’s transportation funding system “unsustainable.”

“This lawsuit is far from over,” Spencer said.  “And win or lose on appeal, the turnpike’s debt crisis and the Commonwealth’s transportation emergency aren’t going away either. This is a crisis created by the legislature’s decisions, not our lawsuit.”

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association is the largest national trade association representing the interests of small-business trucking professionals and professional truck drivers. The Association currently has more than 160,000 members nationwide. OOIDA was established in 1973 and is headquartered in the greater Kansas City, Mo. area.

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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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