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Windfall freight?
Stimulus bill seeks to fund projects dependent on trucking industry

The analysis and potential debate over what is or is not included in the stimulus bill signed into law may continue for some time. But, all that aside, there is one basic premise truckers need to know: Building and maintaining infrastructure depends on trucks to deliver the goods.

In mid-February, the legislation was finalized and signed into law. It is focused on funding “shovel-ready projects” in hopes of creating immediate jobs and improving the nation’s infrastructure – which is a heck of a lot more than just roads. Infrastructure projects include everything from ports to power plants to schools and hospitals.

 “We hesitate to make a judgment for our members on the content of the legislation, but let’s just say that when the wheels of trucks aren’t turning, the wheels of the economy aren’t turning,” Mike Joyce, director of legislative affairs for the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, told Land Line Magazine.

 “We know that truckers are hurting right now, and this economy is at a standstill. Many of our members are at a standstill and have parked their rigs,” he said. “The amount of spending on infrastructure in this bill should create opportunities for truckers.”

Joyce pointed out that if the government is putting money and resources into new roads and bridges and rehabilitating schools and overall infrastructure improvements, “somebody has got to truck those products to those locations.”

Not all of the funding contained in the stimulus package is specifically directed at construction related projects. Truckers will be especially interested in one non-construction-related project, which is funding for a program specifically designed to give truckers some assistance in meeting the emission and idling restrictions spreading across the country like wildfire.

The stimulus legislation contained $300 million set-aside for small businesses through the Diesel Emissions Reduction Program.

 “This DERA program is something that helps truckers as far as being able to use some of these resources to add an APU to their truck,” Joyce said in early February “and it helps the environment at the same time.”

The DERA program was started years ago, although little money has been appropriated for the program.

Congress appropriated $50 million for the program this past year, which the Environmental Protection Agency used to fund emission-reduction programs, including $1.13 million being administered by OOIDA for its 40 percent reimbursement program toward the cost of APU purchase and installment.

For more information on OOIDA’s APU reimbursement program, visit ooida.com.

Watch landlinemag.com and ooida.com for more details as programs begin to receive funding. LL

 

Staff writers David Tanner and
Charlie Morasch contributed to this report.

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