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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

Mack Trucks doubles down on debut of RoadLife 2.0



Mack Trucks kicked off RoadLife 2.0 with the debut of two episodes on One features the grueling efforts of Alaska Department of Transportation snowplow drivers to clear one of the snowiest highways in the United States. (Courtesy: MACK TRUCKS)

GREENSBORO, N.C. — Mack Trucks is doubling down on the debut of RoadLife 2.0 with the launch of two episodes on

Featuring the grueling efforts of Alaska Department of Transportation snowplow drivers to clear one of the snowiest highways in the U.S., to the challenge of building a modern logistics business from the ground up, RoadLife 2.0 picks up from last season, sharing the stories of everyday people doing extraordinary things.

“Our first episodes feature Alaska DOT and Full Tilt Logistics, two organizations with very different missions,” said John Walsh, Mack Trucks vice president of marketing. “Yet in both of their stories, a number of commonalities emerge: hard work, dedication and the ability of Mack trucks to help them achieve success.”

The Richardson Highway is the only road in and out of Valdez, Alaska, the terminus for the Trans-Alaska oil pipeline, and Alaska DOT relies on two Mack Granite model snowplows to keep the road open.

Battling in the neighborhood of 400 inches of snow annually, Alaska DOT relies on the trucks’ brute strength to clear the road, as well as some high-tech tools to make sure they stay on the road, even in whiteout conditions. A sophisticated differential GPS system with an in-cab display shows drivers where the truck is located to within less than an inch.

“Now, it’s almost like a video game,” said Mark Hanson, Alaska DOT terminal manager in describing the differential GPS system. “If I start going over the centerline, the indicator on screen turns red to tell me I’m not where I need to be. If I’m in a white out, I still know where I’m at in the road.”

Reno, Nevada-based Full Tilt Logistics takes the meaning of a family business to the next level. Starting with just three trucks, five members of the Novich family quickly grew the business into a 16-truck fleet hauling high-value loads across the western United States.

Full Tilt operates with the Mack Anthem model.

“When we were first starting out, I was doing some research into the driver shortage, where it’s at now and where it’s going,” said Cris Novich, managing director, transportation for Full Tilt Logistics. “It became abundantly clear that our No. 1 customer is the driver. If we keep them happy, they will want to come work here.”

Additional RoadLife 2.0 episodes will premiere throughout the summer and into the fall. Viewers can watch RoadLife episodes on and Amazon Prime Video, with additional content featured on Mack Trucks’ social channels: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube.






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The Nation

WIT, Freightliner seek nominee for Influential Woman in Trucking Award



The winner of the 2019 Influential Woman in Trucking award will be announced at the WIT Accelerate! Conference & Expo held in Dallas September 30-October 2. (Courtesy: WOMEN IN TRUCKING)

PLOVER, Wis. — Women In Trucking Association and Freightliner Trucks are seeking candidates for the 2019 Influential Woman in Trucking award.

The award was created in 2010 and recognizes women who make or influence key decisions in a corporate, manufacturing, supplier, owner-operator, driver, sales or dealership setting.

The winner must have a proven record of responsibility and have mentored or served as a role model to other women in the industry.

“The Influential Woman in Trucking Award recognizes exceptional women leaders who have been advocates and role models to others,” said Ellen Voie, president and CEO, Women In Trucking. “Each year, I am thoroughly impressed by the caliber of women nominated.”

Now in its ninth year, the award honors female leaders in the trucking industry.

Past recipients include Marcia Taylor, CEO of Bennett International Group; Rebecca Brewster, president and COO, American Transportation Research Institute; Joyce Brenny, president, Brenny Transportation/Brenny Specialized; Rochelle Bartholomew, CEO, CalArk International; Kari Rihm, president, Rihm Kenworth; Ramona Hood, vice president of operations, planning and strategy, FedEx Custom Critical; Daphne Jefferson, former deputy administrator at the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, and Angela Eliacostas, founder and CEO, AGT Global Logistics.

“When I first started my career, there were very few women in the trucking industry let alone in leadership positions,” said Kary Schaefer, general manager, marketing and strategy, Freightliner Trucks and Detroit Components. “It’s amazing to see how the industry has changed and women are now a driving force in all areas of trucking. Freightliner is proud to sponsor this award and recognize those women who are not only making a difference in their own roles but for all women in the trucking profession.”

Nominations will be accepted through August 1 at

The winner will be announced at the WIT Accelerate! Conference & Expo held in Dallas September 30-October 2.

Each finalist will be asked to serve as a panelist for the “Influential Women in Trucking” panel discussion. Those who nominate a candidate need to ask the nominee to save the date for this event if she is named a finalist.

Women In Trucking Association, Inc. is a nonprofit association established to encourage the employment of women in the trucking industry, promote their accomplishments and minimize obstacles faced by women working in the trucking industry. Membership is not limited to women, as 17 percent of its members are men who support the mission.





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The Nation

Group pushes FMCSA for rulemaking before changing crash preventability program



The FMCSA's Crash Preventability Demonstration Program came about after motor carriers complained that there was no method in place to determine who was at fault for accidents involving big rigs. (Associated Press)

WASHINGTON — A coalition of 10 trucking-related organizations has petitioned the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration for a rulemaking if the agency intends to change how it analyzes and publishes data on motor carrier crashes.

The petition was filed on June 14, 2019, by the Motor Carrier Regulatory Reform (MCRR) coalition, which includes organizations representing more than 10,000 carriers, shippers and brokers.

David Gee, chairman of Alliance for Safe, Efficient and Competitive Truck Transportation (ASECTT) said FMCSA officials have indicated that they plan to make permanent as a matter of enforcement policy its crash preventability pilot program, the Crash Preventability Demonstration Program, which has been in place for nearly two years.

As of the end of the first quarter this year, carriers had submitted nearly 11,000 requests for crash preventability determinations under FMCSA’s narrowly defined program since August 2017. However, Gee said the program has not been subject to a formal rulemaking process.

On its website, the FMCSA said the Crash Preventability Demonstration Program is expected to last a minimum of 24 months.

The agency plans to make the program permanent, Transportation Elaine Chao said during an appearance at the Mid-American Trucking Show in Louisville, Kentucky, in March.

“As you know, this program is a response to industry concerns that crashes caused by factors outside of a driver’s control are still shown on the driver’s record,” Chao said. “Based on positive feedback from industry stakeholders, the Department will propose to make this demonstration program permanent. And, the Department of Transportation will propose to add even more of these scenarios for prevention reviews.”

The demonstration program got its impetus after motor carriers complained that there was no method in place to determine who was at fault for accidents involving big rigs, and drivers were getting penalized on their CSA scores and motor vehicle records, and carriers were getting penalized on their CSA scores.

In its explanation of the program on its website, the FMCSA said studies show that crash involvement is a strong indicator of future crash risk.

“The Crash Preventability Demonstration Program allows FMCSA to gather data to examine the feasibility, costs, and benefits of making crash preventability determinations on certain crash types,” the website says. “FMCSA will use the information from the program to evaluate if these preventability determinations improve the Agency’s ability to identify the highest-risk motor carriers.”

Drivers and carriers alike believe that about 75 percent of the crashes involving tractor-trailers and passenger vehicles are the fault of the driver of the passenger vehicle.

In its petition, the MCRR coalition argued that FMCSA must conduct a rulemaking before adopting any permanent program to call balls and strikes on crashes.

Publication of preventability metrics would, among other things, constitute a violation of the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act, the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), and federal executive orders intended to protect the industry against bureaucratic overreach in the name of guidance, the coalition told the agency.

The petition said a key problem with FMCSA’s approach is that the term “preventability” is an artificial construct that does not equate to carrier fault, much less to a systemic violation of safety regulations.

The MCRR coalition argues that the publication of preventability data and metrics would result in increased insurance rates and lost business by carriers that the FMCSA acknowledges are fit to operate and, therefore, fit for shippers and brokers to use.

The subjectivity of the preventability standard and its lack of due process suggest that adopting the trial program as policy guidance would hurt the industry, especially small carriers, the petition said.

The Motor Carrier Regulatory Reform coalition is an affiliation of organizations that frequently weigh in with FMCSA and Congress to promote reasonable regulation and enforcement affecting motor carriers and their business partners. The coalition membership varies slightly depending on the particular issue.

For purposes of the crash preventability rulemaking petition the coalition includes the Air and Expedited Motor Carriers Association, the Alliance for Safe, Efficient and Competitive Truck Transportation, the American Home Furnishings Alliance/Specialized Furniture Carriers,  Apex Capital Corp., the Auto Haulers Association of America, the National Association of Small Trucking Companies, the Tennessee Motor Coach Association, The Expedite Alliance of North America, the Transportation & Logistics Council, and the Transportation Loss Prevention & Security Association.

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