By Clarissa Kell-Holland, staff writer
On July 1, OOIDA Member Eric Westin of Pine City, MN, a hazmat hauler, was supposed to take his written test needed to renew his hazmat endorsement for his CDL license.
Instead, he found the offices closed and no one had any answers for him about what he should do.
“Before this happened, I knew there was a possibility of a shutdown, but I didn’t realize that it would affect the licensing offices,” Westin told Land Line on Friday. “My thinking was that all people have to drive, that we depend on transportation to make a living, but obviously I was wrong.”
Not willing to risk it, Westin said he has been fortunate and has found other loads to haul until he can get his hazmat endorsement renewed.
“If I hauled a hazmat load without my permit and there was an accident, I would be hung out to dry even if the accident wasn’t my fault,” Westin said.
He said the state is losing millions per day during the shutdown, but the state’s enforcement personnel are out in full force.
“Many people have planned their vacations for months to come to this state and fish, and our economy in the northern part of the state depends on tourists,” Westin said. “And they travel here and can’t get their fishing license because of the shutdown, then are being ticketed for fishing without a valid Minnesota license on their vacation here.”
He said it appears the shutdown may be ending soon, but that it’s created a lot of “stress and havoc for everyone.”
He’s home every night so truck parking isn’t an issue for him. But he said it’s been a huge problem for truckers traveling through the state since the rest areas were closed on or before July 1.
“There aren’t a lot of truck stops in Minnesota to begin with. There are a few big one in parts of the state, but there are very few alternatives for drivers other than the rest areas for parking,” he said.
He said the general public in the state doesn’t understand why the rest areas should be deemed a “critical function of the state” during the shutdown and reopened.
“They keep saying things like raise the diesel taxes just on trucks and you (truckers) pay for the rest areas yourself,” Westin said. “They have no clue what rules and regulations we are under.”
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