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Virginia governor, lawmakers back tolls for I-81 upgrades

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Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam calls Interstate 81 “unreliable.” He said he supports legislation to add tolls to the road to pay for the improvements. (Courtesy: STATE OF VIRGINIA)

RICHMOND, Va. — Tolls could soon be coming to Interstate 81 in Virginia.

Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam and Republican lawmakers said at a Capitol news conference Tuesday the highway is too often the scene of long delays because of crashes and a dedicated source of funding is urgently needed to make improvements.

The highway stretches 325 miles along the western part of the state and is heavily trafficked by tractor trailers. There are more than 2,000 crashes on the road each year, with more than a quarter involving heavy trucks. There are about 45 major crashes a year that take more than four hours to clear.

“Increasingly, I-81 is unreliable,” Northam said. “The road is a clear safety problem.”

Northam and lawmakers are backing a $2 billion plan that would widen the highway in some areas, lengthen merge lanes, and make other improvements designed to reduce the number of crashes by 450 a year.

The governor said he supports legislation to add tolls to the road to pay for the improvements. A proposal advanced by the Commonwealth Transportation Board would charge trucks 15 cents a mile and cars 7.5 cents a mile. That would be about $50 for trucks and $25 for cars making the entire 325-mile trip one way. The tolls would be cheaper at night and regular commuters in cars and small trucks could pay a $30 annual pass to avoid toll fees under the proposed plan.

Northam and lawmakers were quick to add they are still working on the specifics of toll pricing and are open to other ways of paying for the improvements, which could include raising regional sales and gas taxes along the I-81 corridor.

“I just want to see something done this year,” said Republican Del. Steve Landes.

Truckers and manufacturers said they would unfairly bear the brunt of paying for the highway’s improvement if tolls were added and said a gas tax increase was preferable.

“This is a litmus test for us,” said Virginia Manufacturers Association CEO Brett Vassey. “If you want more manufacturing, you’ll find an alternative funding other than tolling. If you want less manufacturing, put the tolls on 81.”

Dale Bennett, president of the Virginia Trucking Association, said he’s already spoken with truck drivers who plan to use other state roads that run parallel to the interstate in order to avoid tolls.

“They can’t absorb that cost,” Bennett said.

Both Vassey and Bennett questioned the state’s calculated economic benefits of using tolls, saying officials did not do enough to survey truck companies and other businesses based along the I-81 corridor.

State transportation officials said fewer crashes would shorten delays and lead to about $1.1 billion in lower trucking costs over a 40-year span.

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The Nation

Big rig causes 100-year-old bridge to collapse in North Dakota

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This undated photo provided by Grand Forks County Sheriff's Department shows the overweight semi that caused the collapse of a small, historic bridge near Northwood, N.D. Authorities say the semi, with a trailer load of dry beans, was traveling on the 56-foot-long, restricted-weight bridge over the Goose River Monday. (Grand Forks County Sheriff's Department via AP)

NORTHWOOD, N.D. — Sheriff’s officials say an overweight semitrailer loaded with dried beans caused a more-than-century-old bridge to collapse in North Dakota.

Grand Forks County sheriff’s officials say the bridge over the Goose River near Northwood collapsed Monday afternoon. Photos show the wooden and iron span buckling under the weight of the vehicle. The bridge is partly submerged in the water.

Police said a 2005 Peterbilt semi-truck was driving on the bridge when the structure reportedly crumpled beneath it, causing the trailer to hangover the west abutment.

The 56-foot-long bridge was built in 1906 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

It has a 14 ton weight restriction. Sheriff’s officials say the semitrailer was 29 tons over that limit.

The driver, who was not injured, faces an $11,400 overload fine.

Officials say it will cost up to $1 million to replace the bridge.

It was not immediately clear if weight-limit signs were posted, and police said the incident was still under investigation

Northwood is about 200 miles northeast of Bismarck.

 

 

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Women In Trucking names its 2019 top woman-owned businesses

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Angela Eliacostas is the founder and owner of AGT Global Logistics, one of the companies the Women In Trucking Association has named its 2019 Top Women-Owned Businesses in Transportation. (Courtesy: Women in Trucking)

PLOVER, Wisc. —  The Women In Trucking Association (WIT) has announced its annual list of the “Top Woman-Owned Businesses in Transportation.”

The names of the companies being recognized in 2019 were released in the latest edition of Redefining the Road, the official magazine of WIT.

WIT created the list was created to recognize women in leadership and encourage more women to become proactive leaders in their organizations and even start their own businesses, WIT president and CEO Ellen Voie said. The program supports WIT’s overall mission “To encourage the employment of women in the trucking industry, promote their accomplishments, and minimize the obstacles they face.”

Entrepreneurship is a viable means of economic self-sufficiency, and many women are choosing an enterprise connected to transportation to be part of their career aspirations, according to Brian Everett, publisher of Redefining the Road.

Companies considered for the recognition must meet criteria that includes majority ownership by a woman, financial stability and growth, innovation and entrepreneurial spirit. Each company was nominated and chosen based upon business success and accomplishments, including those related to gender diversity.

This year’s list includes companies from a diverse range of business sectors in the commercial freight transportation marketplace, including motor carriers, third-party logistics companies and original equipment manufacturers.

Companies named to the 2019 “Top Woman-Owned Businesses” list and their primary female business owners are:

  • Bennett International Group; Marcia G. Taylor, CEO
  • Kenco Logistics; Jane Kennedy Greene, chairwoman
  • London Auto Truck Center; Donna Childers, vice president
  • Rihm Family Companies; Kari Rihm, president and CEO
  • Veriha Trucking, Inc.; Karen Smerchek, president
  • Rush Trucking Corp.; Andra Rush, CEO
  • Aria Logistics; Arelis Gutierrez, CEO
  • Lodgewood Enterprises; Arlene Gagne, president
  • S-2international, LLC; Jennifer Mead, CEO
  • International Express Trucking; Karen Duff, president and CEO
  • Brenny Transportation, Inc.; Joyce Brenny, CEO and founder
  • Knichel Logistics; Kristy Knichel, CEO
  • Garner Trucking; Sherri Garner Brumbaugh, CEO
  • LYNC Logistics; Cindy Lee, president
  • Ontario Truck Training Academy; Yvette Lagrois, president
  • AGT Global Logistics; Angela Eliacostas, owner and founder
  • Powersource Transportation; (Barb Bakos, president
  • LaunchIt Public Relations; Susan Fall, president
  • United Federal Logistics, Inc.; Jennifer Behnke, president
  • BCP Transportation; Nancy Spelsberg, Ardis Jourdan, Kristie Rozinski
  • Ladybird Logistics Ltd.; Felicia Payin Marfo, managing director
  • DGT Trucking; Donna G. Sleasman, owner
  • RFX Inc.; Kimberly Welby, president and CEO)

These companies will be recognized during a special program at the Women In Trucking Accelerate! Conference & Expo, Sept. 30 – Oct. 2 in Dallas. For more information, visit WomenInTrucking.org.

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The Nation

Can you say oversized load!

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That is big!

 

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