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Oregon transportation needs to continue to grow



Oregon's transportation system faces long-term challenges not included in the 2017 legislation. More state bridges will need upgrades in the coming years. And rural roads continue to be a high-need area. (©2019 FOTOSEARCH)

SALEM, Ore. — The 2017 Oregon Legislature pumped $5.3 billion into the state’s highway system over the next decade — the largest transportation package in decades.

Today, 15 projects are under construction, funded by the legislation that created Keep Oregon Moving.

About 80 other projects are in different stages of planning, such as design work and obtaining rights of way, according to agency data examined by the Statesman Journal.

And even more projects will unfold as the funding legislation generates revenue in the years ahead.

This article was written by Ben Botkin of the Salem, Oregon, Statesman Journal

By some measures, the Oregon Department of Transportation is doing well.

Roadwork and behind the scenes design have started on a handful of projects, including repaving I-5 from Salem to Woodburn. Other projects include upgrading or replacing bridges, fortifying highways against the threat of earthquakes and enhancing interchanges to reduce congestion.

And the agency is posting transparency metrics on a website so taxpayers can track the contracts in real time.

But advocates and agency officials alike warn it’s not nearly enough.

Oregon’s transportation system faces long-term challenges not included in the 2017 legislation.

More state bridges will need upgrades in the coming years. And rural roads continue to be a high-need area, especially for legislators representing districts outside Oregon’s urban areas.

The plan passed in 2017 had a fourfold aim: Preserving the existing system of roads and bridges; reducing congestion, particularly in the Portland-metro area; increasing transportation choices, such as mass transit and bicycle paths; and public accountability and transparency.

Here’s a look at what the plan has done so far, what’s ahead and what the state’s needs are.

Unmet bridge needs

Oregon’s infrastructure needs are highlighted on an industry report card released this month by the American Society of Civil Engineers.

Despite Oregon’s planned investment in infrastructure, the state still received an overall grade of C-, a mediocre outcome that reflects the state’s long-term and unfunded needs in critical areas like bridges, roads, levees and wastewater.

The needs are heightened by an awareness that Oregon faces a 20% chance of a massive 9.0 magnitude earthquake in the Cascadia Subduction Zone, which puts older bridges at risk.

To put it in context, nearly 20% of Oregon’s 8,161 bridges and culverts are at risk of becoming structurally deficient in the near future, the report found. Bridge maintenance needs are expected to grow and require nearly three times the funding from House Bill 2017.

State transportation officials say Oregon needs to stay vigilant about the state’s needs, despite the benefits from HB2017.

“It truly is a race that probably doesn’t have a finish line,” ODOT Director Matt Garrett said at recent press event with the American Society of Civil Engineers.

Accountability measures

Oregonians are already starting to pay for the transportation improvements. A 10-cent gasoline tax is unfolding in four stages. It started with a 4-cent increase in 2018.

Three more 2-cent increases are slated for 2020, 2022 and 2024, provided the state meets accountability measures set by the law. Those include reporting information transparently to the public about project details, costs and schedules.

That work has already started, even though work on most of the road projects hasn’t started yet. The state launched its transparency, accountability and performance website in January, which is required by the state law.

“The public, media and stakeholders now have access for the first time ever to condition data on bridges and pavement in every single city and county in the state as well as for the state highway system,” said Travis Brouwer, assistant director of the Oregon Department of Transportation.

While each piece runs on a slightly different schedule, in a way, it’s all part of a broader plan, state officials said.

“We have taken this very seriously and really treated it like a transportation highway project in terms of having a project plan and deliverables and due dates,” Brouwer said.

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Dollars can change

The public also can see if a project has come in below or above its budget.

That could easily become a factor with the planned Center Street bridge between west Salem and downtown, which may cost about $100 million for seismic upgrades instead of the $40 million lawmakers budgeted in 2017.

“If one project comes in under budget, we can ship that money to another project in the region,” Brouwer said.

At this point, there aren’t any major delays anticipated, state officials said.

That can change, if the state’s past performance is any indication. Data from state transportation projects in 2018 show about 80 percent of nearly 100 projects were completed on time.

The bridge construction could start in 2024 and other projects are spaced out even further into the future.

Interstate 5 paving

Elsewhere, there are visible signs of work.

Road crews began work this month on a 12.4-mile stretch of Interstate 5 between Woodburn and Salem.

The interstate has ruts in vehicle wheel paths that put motorists at a risk of hydroplaning in rainy weather, transportation officials say.

Paving began northbound from Brooks to Woodburn.

Nightly lane closures are expected between Sunday evenings and Friday mornings. One lane can be closed between 7 p.m. and 9 a.m. A second lane can be shut down between 9 p.m. and 5 a.m., giving motorists delays of up to 30 minutes.

During the lane closures, motorists can still travel north and south.

Work on the $17 million project is expected to last through October.

Upcoming Salem-area projects

Most of the work is on the horizon, including in the Salem area.

For example, design work starts this year for a project that will widen Interstate 5 between Keubler Boulevard in south Salem and the Delaney Road interchange to relieve congestion on the southbound side.

Construction work is due to start in 2021 on the $35.4 million project and includes replacing a bridge over the Commercial Street northbound off-ramp and reconstruction of the southbound Commercial Street on-ramp and thee southbound Delaney Road ramps to get on and off the interstate.

In 2020, construction will start on a nearly $9 million project that adds sidewalks and bicycle lanes  on Oregon 214 in Silverton between Smith Street and Pioneer Drive.

Small-scale projects are in the pipeline too. Pedestrian safety improvements are planned at the intersection of Oregon 214 and Jefferson Street in Silverton.

The $750,000 project will have a pedestrian island, flashing beacon and lights. It’s expected to go out for a bid late this year, with construction in 2020.


Oregon’s transportation system faces long-term challenges not included in the 2017 legislation. More state bridges will need upgrades in the coming years. And rural roads continue to be a high-need area. (©2019 FOTOSEARCH)

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The Nation

Pilot Flying J opens 28th Illinois location at Marshall



Employee stand in front of the Pilot Flying J location in Marshall, Illinois, which offers more than 64 truck parking spaces and a Truck Care Service Center with roadside assistance. (Courtesy: PILOT FLYING J)

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Flying J continues to grow its presence in Illinois with the opening of a new Pilot Travel Center and Truck Care Service Center in Marshall this month.

The travel center features full amenities for area residents, the traveling public and professional drivers, while adding approximately 50 local jobs and other economic benefits to the community. The Truck Care Service Center includes a 2-bay garage and will add approximately 10 jobs to the area, with up to six positions currently available.

“We’re committed to making a better day for people living, working and traveling through Clark county and across the nation,” said Ken Parent, president of Pilot Flying J. “We continue to invest in new stores to bring convenience, quality, great food and amenities to those who are traveling the roadways.”

This Pilot Travel Center offers many amenities, including 12 gasoline fueling positions, and eight diesel lanes with high-speed pumps for quicker refueling; PJ Fresh pizza and grab-and-go offerings prepared on site daily, including salads, sandwiches, burgers, fruit cups and an array of hot and cold snacks; Pilot’s Best Gourmet Coffees, including bean-to-cup selections and cold brew; Taco Bell; Truck Care Service Center; driver lounge and five shower rooms; public laundry; Western Union; CAT scale; and everyday products for quick shopping needs

The new facility at 104 West Trefz Drive will be Pilot Flying J’s 28th location in Illinois, including travel centers and dealers, and it is expected to contribute $2.7 million annually in state and local tax revenues. In August, the company also acquired and re-branded a travel center in Vandalia, Illinois, adding a Denny’s restaurant to the Pilot Travel Center located at 10 Interstate Drive.

To meet the needs of industry traffic and provide repair services to professional drivers, the travel center in Marshall will provide more than 64 truck parking spaces and a Truck Care Service Center with roadside assistance. The Truck Care team is seeking ASE certified technicians with diesel mechanic experience and offers career development, competitive weekly pay and great benefits. To learn more and apply, visit

In honor of Pilot Flying J’s history of giving back and commitment to fueling life’s journeys, the company is donating $2,500 to benefit the Marshall Community Unit School District C-2’s technology program.

“Pilot Flying J is honored to be a part of the Marshall community and to contribute to the local school district,” said Randall Fritz, travel center general manager for Pilot Flying J. “Our friendly team members look forward to serving our guests and providing a clean, all-in-one fuel stop with a variety of food, drinks, supplies and amenities.”

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The Nation

Batts, Lee stepping down from Driver iQ roles, Hensley to become president



Todd Hensley, left, will become president of DriveiQ November 1. Billie Lee, center, and Lana Batts are stepping down as co-presidents and will continue be of counsel with the company. (Courtesy: DRIVER IQ)

TULSA, Okla. — Driver iQ, a background screening company serving the trucking industry, said Lana Batts and Billie Lee, co-founders and co-presidents of Driver iQ, will be stepping down at the end of the year, but will remain of counsel.

Todd Hensley, currently serving as senior vice president of business development, has been named president effective November 1.

“We feel Driver iQ will be in good hands, as Todd has been an integral part of our growth and client relationships since joining our management team in May of 2012,” Batts said.

Batts and Lee launched Driver iQ in early 2012 focused on providing a world class background screening solution for carriers, with the initial phase dedicated to the largest truckload carriers. Today the company counts 24 of the top 25 carriers as clients, plus hundreds more.

“Until Driver iQ, there was only one other option in background screening for the trucking industry,” Batts and Lee said. “We listened and got busy. We are extremely proud of this accomplishment and give all the credit to the Driver iQ team.”

“Lana and Billie were the driving force behind Driver iQ — from its inception to the highly regarded company it is today. We want to thank them for their tireless efforts, enthusiasm,

knowledge, and wit.” said James Owens, president and CEO of Cisive, of which Driver iQ is a division. “Todd has some mighty big shoes to fill, but we are sure that he will succeed.”

Hensley said that from the original vision and continuing efforts of Lee and Batts, Driver iQ has risen to become the preeminent background screening business in the trucking industry.

“I look forward to continuing that institution of delivering accurate and compliant information to our clients through our team, whose industry knowledge, client focus, and tireless dedication to delivering first class service is one of the things that sets us apart. We will continue to develop and deliver products and services which provide value and benefit to our clients as they navigate the changing landscape of hiring and maintaining their CDL driver fleets,” Hensley said.”

“We love the trucking industry and its people,” Batts and Lee said. “We are proud to have been a part of the trucking industry and the building of Driver iQ over the past decade. The company is in the hands of a very strong and deep team. We are very confident that Driver iQ will continue to achieve its full potential.”

Hensley has over 30 years in the background screening business, extensive focus in the

transportation industry. He has been with Driver iQ since 2012.

He has held senior management positions with IBM, CrossCom National, DAC Services (now a part of HireRight), Lexis/Nexis and First Advantage Corp. Hensley holds an MBA from Oklahoma City University in International Business, with graduate studies at Richmond College in London, England, and an undergraduate degree from the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, Arkansas. He currently resides in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where he has been actively involved with Junior Achievement, and served on the board of directors of Big Brothers of Oklahoma.

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The Nation

Speeding tops list of citations issued during Operation Safe Driver Week



According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety Highway Loss Data Institute, speeding has been a factor in more than a quarter of crash deaths since 2008. During Operation Safe Driver Week, 1,454 citations were issued to CMV drivers for speeding-related violations. (©2019 FOTOSEARCH)

GREENBELT, Md. — During the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance’s (CVSA) Operation Safe Driver Week July 14-20, commercial vehicle enforcement personnel in Canada and the United States took to North America’s roadways to identify drivers engaging in unsafe driving behaviors and issue citations and/or warnings.

Officers issued 46,752 citations and 87,624 warnings to drivers for traffic enforcement violations, ranging from speeding to failure to wear a seatbelt.

Drivers’ actions contribute to 94% of all traffic crashes.

The Operation Safe Driver Week enforcement initiative is the commercial motor vehicle law enforcement community’s response to this transportation safety issue.

Through traffic safety initiatives, such as Operation Safe Driver Week, law enforcement personnel aim to deter negative driver behaviors and reduce the number of crashes involving large trucks, motorcoaches and passenger vehicles by identifying and citing drivers exhibiting risky driving behaviors and tendencies.

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety Highway Loss Data Institute, speeding has been a factor in more than a quarter of crash deaths since 2008. In response to this alarming trend, CVSA selected speeding as the emphasis area for this year’s Operation Safe Driver Week. Speeding/violations of the basic speed law/driving too fast for conditions was the most cited violation this year with 17,556 total citations. Passenger vehicle drivers were issued 16,102 citations and 21,001 warnings, and CMV drivers received 1,454 citations and 2,126 warnings.

As part of this year’s Operation Safe Driver Week, law enforcement agencies and motor carriers throughout North America promoted and supported the following message, Late won’t kill you, speeding will, by distributing postcards provided by CVSA. Motor carriers and law enforcement distributed nearly 12,000 postcards in the weeks leading up to Operation Safe Driver Week.

The top 10 driver-behavior citations (and warnings) given to CMV drivers were as follows:

  1. Speeding/violation of basic speed law/driving too fast for conditions: 1,454 citations, 2,126 warnings.
  2. Failure to wear a seatbelt: 954, 586.
  3. Failure to obey a traffic control device: 436, 871.
  4. Using a handheld phone/testing: 249, 170.
  5. Improper lane change: 92, 194.
  6. Following too closely” 57, 143.
  7. Possession/use/under influence of alcohol and/or drugs: 55, 18.
  8. Improper passing: 41, 30.
  9. Inattentive, careless and/or reckless driving: 32, 55.
  10. Operating CMV while ill or fatigued: 25, 45.

The top 10 driver-behavior citations (and warnings) given to passenger vehicle drivers were as follows:

  1. Speeding/violation of basic speed law/driving too fast for conditions: 16,102 citations, 21,001 warnings.
  2. Failure to wear a seatbelt: 1,794, 773.
  3. Failure to obey traffic control device: 540, 1,063
  4. Inattentive, careless and/or reckless driving: 517, 484.
  5. Possession/use/under influence of alcohol and/or drugs: 503, 2.
  6. Using a handheld phone/testing: 415, 400.
  7. Improper lane change: 352, 1,226.
  8. Failure to yield right of way: 297, 198.
  9. Improper passing: 280, 723.
  10. Following too closely: 188, 853.

Failure to wear a seatbelt was the second highest violation for both types of drivers – CMV and passenger vehicle.

There were 954 CMV drivers and 1,794 passenger vehicle drivers received citations for not wearing a seatbelt. Buckling up is the single most effective thing vehicle drivers and passengers can do to protect themselves in the event of a crash. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s 2016 Safety Belt Usage by Commercial Motor Vehicle Drivers Survey found that seatbelt usage among CMV drivers was 86.1%. Among passenger vehicle drivers, the national seatbelt use rate was 89.6% in 2018. In Canada, 95% of vehicle occupants wear seatbelts.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, short-term, high-visibility enforcement, such as CVSA’s Operation Safe Driver Week, combined with media coverage, is particularly effective for reaching people who typically don’t use seat belts regularly.

Drunk driving crashes claim nearly 11,000 lives per year and NHTSA’s National Roadside Survey found that 20% of surveyed drivers tested positive for potentially impairing drugs. During all roadside interactions with the public, law enforcement personnel are trained to look for evidence of driver impairment by alcohol or drugs – legal or illegal. During this year’s Operation Safe Driver Week, 33 CMV drivers were cited for possession/use/under influence of drugs; 22 received citations for possession/use/under influence of alcohol. 159 passenger vehicle drivers were cited for possession/use/under influence of drugs and 344 were cited for possession/use/under influence of alcohol. Possession/use/under influence of alcohol and/or drugs was the fifth most cited violation for passenger vehicle drivers (503). It was the seventh most cited violation for CMV drivers (55).

In 2017, there were 3,166 distraction-related fatal crashes in the U.S. and distracted driving contributed to an estimated 21% of fatal collisions in Canada in 2016. Distractions include anything that takes the driver’s attention off the road, such as talking or texting on a cellphone, eating, talking with passengers, adjusting vehicle or navigations controls, etc. During Operation Safe Driver Week, 249 citations and 170 warnings were given to CMV drivers for using a handheld phone/texting while operating the vehicle; 416 citations and 400 warnings were given to passenger vehicle drivers.

“Although CVSA is an organization focused on commercial motor vehicle safety, we know that if we want to prevent crashes involving commercial motor vehicles and passenger vehicles, it’s important that we focus on both types of vehicles and drivers,” said CVSA President Chief Jay Thompson with the Arkansas Highway Police. “Operation Safe Driver Week is our effort to focus on driver behaviors, the leading cause of crashes. We hope that contact with law enforcement during this traffic safety initiative helps to combat dangerous driver behaviors in the future, ultimately making our roadways safer.”

While Operation Safe Driver Week is an enforcement operation focused on driver behaviors, during a traffic stop, an officer may notice and issue citations or warnings for vehicle-related issues. Such violations are noted as state/local driver violations on law enforcement’s reporting documentation. During this year’s Operation Safe Driver Week, passenger vehicle drivers received 16,050 state/local driver citations and 29,145 warnings, and CMV drivers received state/local driver 6,170 citations and 27,163 warnings. Examples of state/local driver violations include vehicle-related observations, such as mirror equipment violations, expired license plate tags, non-working lamps, etc.

Operation Safe Driver Week is sponsored by CVSA, in partnership with FMCSA and with support from industry and transportation safety organizations. The initiative aims to help improve the behavior of all drivers operating in an unsafe manner – either in or around commercial motor vehicles – through educational and traffic enforcement strategies to address individuals exhibiting high-risk driving behaviors.

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