Line One
Roses & Razzberries

By Terry Scruton
Land Line Now senior correspondent

 

RAZZBERRIES to Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell for his proposal to convert part of Interstate 95 in that state to a toll road.

The state DOT announced in May that, if the state gets tolling authority from the Federal Highway Administration, only one tolling location would be constructed just north of the North Carolina border to target interstate traffic. Hmm. What interstate traffic could they possibly be talking about?

Looks like we need to add Virginia to the list of states that need a reminder: Interstate truckers already pay more than their fair share for in-state roads in the form of state fuel taxes, registration fees and Heavy Vehicle Use Tax.

OOIDA’s Director of Legislative Affairs Mike Joyce said Virginia has learned from the recent Pennsylvania attempt and is calling for 100 percent of the toll revenue to remain with I-95.

Wouldn’t you know it? A government finally learns from the past and it turns out it learned the wrong lesson. Looks like Gov. McDonnell needs a better teacher. Paging Professor Truck Driver!

Speaking of states in need of a lesson, let’s send some more RAZZBERRIES out to the Kansas Legislature for its recent proposed 10-year transportation plan.

Oh sure, they did manage to find more than $8 billion for roads and bridges at a time when many states are faced with massive budget shortfalls, but guess where that money is going to come from?

We’ll give you a hint: It has 18 wheels, a long trailer, and a frustrated person in the driver’s seat. Yep, the state plans to raise heavy-truck registration fees by $135 over the next four years.

What do these states think truck drivers are hauling around in the trailers they schlep up and down the highways? We’ve got news for them; it ain’t stacks of money.

At least we know some politicians at the federal level who get it. That’s why we’re sending these ROSES to U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio of Oregon.

During a hearing on the Clean Trucks Program at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, DeFazio got an earful from OOIDA Director of Regulatory Affairs Joe Rajkovacz, among others, about the problems associated with lease-purchase agreements.

Proving that those complaints did not fall on deaf ears, DeFazio pledged to launch an investigation into lease-purchase programs. He closed the hearing by saying that this was not the last time his committee would be talking about the subject.

It just goes to show that truckers are talking, and people in Washington, DC, are listening. Particularly DeFazio. He’s also the one, you may remember, who wants the cross-border trucking provision yanked out of NAFTA altogether.

With a few more like him on Capitol Hill, being a trucker in America could get a whole lot better.

RAZZBERRIES to the former state DOT employee in West Virginia who confessed in May to fraud and extortion charges.

The man was a highway inspector on an expansion project for a state highway when he approached the company that was doing erosion control with an offer. He asked for money in exchange for falsifying his reports so it would look as if the company was doing more work than it really was.

In times like this, when DOTs and states are struggling for money and putting the squeeze on truckers to get it, behavior like this is just another slap in the face to the taxpayers.

We have to give some ROSES, though, to the company for calling the police and helping investigators gather enough evidence to bust this clown.

OOIDA Member Charlie Thurman of Long Beach, CA, would like to send some ROSES to Claire McCaskill, the U.S. senator from Missouri.

During a spring hearing of the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Transportation, McCaskill had a thoughtful exchange with OOIDA Executive Vice President Todd Spencer.

McCaskill said that truckers are not lazy, that paying them fairly would not cause them to become so, and that driver wait times are a safety issue that has largely been ignored.

Between Sen. McCaskill and Rep. DeFazio, it’s good to know there are people in both chambers of Congress who are paying attention. LL 

 

Terry Scruton may be reached at
terry_scruton@landlinemag.com

 
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