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WIT girls in trucks events introduce young girls to logistics, transportation

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Wit girls in trucks events introduce young girls to logistics, transportation
Women In Trucking President and CEO Ellen Voie, center by the truck, talks with participants in the first transportation event for girls at Olive Harvey Academy in Chicago with more than 70 girls in attendance where each received the WIT transportation patch. Since then, the program has awarded more than 1,500 patches to girls who have participated in the program. (Courtesy: Women In Trucking)

PLOVER, Wis. — Most girls are taught from a young age that they can be anything (or anyone) they want when they grow up. They tend to dress up their Barbie dolls in beautiful dresses and maybe even a doctor’s coat, but what about transportation and logistics? Girls can do that, too.

Perhaps the perception that transportation and logistics is a field for men only is an overwhelming stereotype in society, but Women In Trucking President and CEO Ellen Voie isn’t settling for that idea. She and the WIT non-profit organization are not only working to break the stigma, they’re also looking to show girls and young women that a career in transportation and logistics might very well be something that works for them. If nothing else, it is definitely an option.

“Our mission includes promoting careers in transportation, and we need to do this by exposing the next generation of future drivers, technicians and leaders to the industry,” Voie said. “Girls need to see women in these roles so they can imagine themselves in the same careers.”

Introducing these young girls to women in these careers is what led to the development of the “Trucks are for Girls” event that has spread across the nation since its founding in 2014. The first event was held at Olive Harvey Academy in Chicago with more than 70 girls in attendance along with their parents. At this event, the girls met an engineer from Navistar and toured a tractor trailer with a female professional driver.

“One of the startling things that I realized was that the parents who attended hadn’t been exposed to careers in trucking and were asking as many questions as their daughters,” Voie said.

The idea for this event came about when Voie learned that the Boy Scouts of America offered a transportation badge. When she contacted the Girl Scouts, she found that there was not an equivalent for its members. There was, however, an aviation badge. As with the thinking that led Voie to create the Women In Trucking organization, she thought “why not trucking, too?”

“Transportation careers are so important to the economy, so our industry needs to take the lead in promoting ourselves to the next generation,” she said. “More importantly, we want children to understand the importance of the trucking industry so they can relate the trucks on the road to their own lives.”

WIT worked alongside the Greater Chicago/Northern Indiana Girl Scout Region to write the curriculum for girls to earn a transportation patch. Since it is not affiliated with the national Girls Scout organization and not available through the national office, it is not called a badge, Voie noted.

The patches are available only from WIT and are sold at production cost, which is $1. The patch is available for free to all WIT corporate members as well as any Girl Scout Troops. Voie said there have been truck dealerships, driving schools, carriers and others host Trucks are for Girls events.

In 2017, Voie participated in the University of Wisconsin Superior’s Girl Scout Transportation Day which hosted 21 girls and included a play-by-play demonstration of the supply chain and how it relates to Girl Scout cookies. The girls toured the S.S. Meteor and took a ride on the North Shore Scenic Railroad. Once back at the university, the girls were separated into groups and visited learning stations that further explained other methods of transportation with the final stop allowing the girls to meet a female professional driver.

Most recently, J.B. Hunt hosted a Trucks Are for Girls event in Fayetteville, Arkansas, with 30 girl scouts in attendance. The girls had an interactive session with Tami Allensworth, senior vice president of customer experience at J.B. Hunt, where she spoke about supply chain. The girls also had the opportunity to explore a tractor from J.B. Hunt’s intermodal fleet.

In addition to the patch, WIT also offers a “Scouting for Cookies” activity book, which teaches children how trucks are instrumental in the process of facilitating the production of girl scout cookies as well as delivering them.

“When [Girl Scouts] see a truck, they might think about whether their own cookies are in the trailer,” Voie said.

WIT has also created Clare, a truck driver doll, which aims to provide another method through which girls can be exposed to transportation career options. Voie said there are plans for other dolls including technicians and dispatchers as well as ethnically diverse dolls.

There have been 1,575 girls who have earned the patch in three counties so far, but Voie has big plans for the program and would like to see it grow even larger.

“I’d like to see this expand to more countries so children everywhere can learn about the transportation industry,” Voie said.

For more information about hosting a Girls in Trucks event or participating, contact Women In Trucking at programs@womenintrucking.org.

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

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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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FMCSA final rule lowers annual registration costs for motor carriers

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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 https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/regulations/rulemaking/2020-01761.

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Rhode Island DOT looks to hike trucks-only tolls amid court battle; public input sought

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Rhode island dot wanting to hike rates on trucks-only toll system while court battle continues; public comment sought
A truck passes through one of Rhode Island's six operating toll gantries. (courtesy: Providence Journal)

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — As the Connecticut legislature prepares to vote this week on Gov. Ned Lamont’s controversial and long-debated “trucks only” toll proposal, a similar system in Rhode Island continues to operate while legal action to overturn the tolls is underway.

The original Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) proposal to charge tolls on trucks only included 14 locations, all bridges RIDOT deemed as structurally deficient. Tolls collected at each bridge would be used to repair and upgrade the specific location.

RIDOT is accepting public comment through March 1 on a plan to increase the toll on a newly installed gantry at the Oxford Street Bridge in Providence, a bridge crossing Interstate 95. The original toll for the bridge was set at $2.25 per trip; however, RIDOT is studying the cost-benefit ratio of doubling the rate to $4.50. RIDOT representatives requesting comment on the proposed increase claim the increase is really no increase at all; it is simply an effort to maintain the revenue forecast from the 14 gantries included in the original tolling proposal.

Currently, Rhode Island has constructed toll gantries at six of the originally planned locations; however, as the program has moved forward, two locations have been temporarily or permanently delayed. Rather than adjusting anticipated total revenue based on 12 locations, Gov. Gina Raimondo has instead directed RIDOT officials to study and request rate hikes at specific bridges. The toll hikes will allow Rhode Island to collect the same $45 million forecast from the 14 original gantries. This new twist on a toll program already challenged as unconstitutional by the American Trucking Associations, and one which an appellate court has ruled Rhode Island must face in a lawsuit, is leading the trucking industry and toll opposition to question RIDOT’s language in press releases and discussions on the issue.

Chris Maxwell, president of the Rhode Island Trucking Association, said, “This should serve to reinforce concerns over the unbridled power and discretion given to RIDOT and further feeds the suspicion and skepticism of Rhode Island’s business owners about the end game of this scheme.”

Maxwell’s comments come on the heels of an already approved increased toll rate at another location in Providence. The Route 6 bridge over the Woonasquatucket River was increased from $2.00 to $5.00 last fall.

Maxwell also expressed concern about changing the still new tolls program when original approval was based on environmental impact studies. “From a legal standpoint,” he said, “these ‘on the fly’ changes would seem to undermine and violate the purpose and extent of the environmental impact assessments.”
Other opponents to the Oxford Street bridge toll increase note that the bridge does not fall into the criteria RIDOT deemed as structurally deficient, meaning revenue from the toll would be used at other locations, a provision not included in the tolling plan.

From RIDOT’s perspective, not only is the proposed toll rate increase not really an increase, it is also going to save the state money. RIDOT Director Peter Alviti said that the infrastructure costs of eliminating two planned toll locations will result in lower implementation costs.

“Our thinking is we’ll forgo building [a gantry] at the viaduct in Providence, or at least while the viaduct is being built,” Alviti said on WPRO radio. “We’ll assign the toll amount we were going to collect there to the next nearest location, which is Oxford Street.”

Chris Maxwell believes he has a full understanding of RIDOT’s intent. “[They] deliberately chose the most densely traveled tool location in the who scheme to further their insatiable appetite to soak businesses, consumers, and taxpayers,” he said in an interview with Transport Topics.

RIDOT is justifying its proposed action based on the original toll proposal’s expectation of generating $45 million in revenue. In any event, Peter Alviti says, truckers traveling I-95 through Rhode Island will still be paying $20.00 per trip.

When is an increase not an increase? It depends on what your definition of increase is. For those wanting to comment, emails can be sent to Dot.BridgeRepairTolls@dot.ri.gov or comments can be submitted in writing to Jay McGinn, P.E., Project Manager II RIDOT, 2 Capitol Hill, Providence RI 02903. Following cutoff date for comments on March 1, the new rate will be implemented on March 5.

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