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Ex-Michigan legislative leaders: Hike fuel taxes 47 cents for roads

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The ex-Michigan legislative leaders say an extra $1.2 billion in transportation funding that is being phased in under 2015 laws falls far short, making the problem worse in the long term. (FOTOSEARCH)

LANSING, Mich. — Four former legislative leaders said Thursday that Michigan’s per-gallon gasoline and diesel taxes should be increased by 47 cents over nine years to fix deteriorating roads with an additional $2.5 billion in annual spending.

The bipartisan proposal will face resistance in a Republican-led Legislature that previously raised fuel taxes and vehicle registration fees, effective in 2017.

But the ex-leaders, including Democrat Bob Emerson and Republican Ken Sikkema, said it is important to actually improve road conditions instead of trying to do so with half-measures. They said an extra $1.2 billion in transportation funding that is being phased in under 2015 laws falls far short, making the problem worse in the long term and forcing drivers to pay for car damage caused by shoddy roads. Lawmakers, they contended, paid no political price in recent elections for boosting road taxes.

“The problem hasn’t been solved, and it needs to be solved,” said Sikkema, who served as Senate majority leader from 2003 through 2006.

The plan calls for hiking the 26-cents-a-gallon gasoline and diesel taxes by 7 cents in 2020, followed by yearly 5-cent increases through 2028.

Emerson, an ex-Senate minority leader and former state budget director, said no one lost an election in 2016 or 2018 because the gas tax was raised by 7 cents. Others backing the proposal include former Lt. Gov. John Cherry, a Democrat and former Senate minority leader, and ex-Republican House Speaker Paul Hillegonds.

“The only thing I ever heard about was more talk about fixing the damn roads and more talk about health care,” Cherry said, referencing Gretchen Whitmer’s pledge in her 2018 campaign to smooth the roads. The new Democratic governor called for spending $3 billion more on infrastructure by increasing “user fees” by an unspecified amount or by asking voters to approve a bond.

Her office declined to comment Thursday on the proposed 47-cent fuel tax increase, saying it will not discuss budget items until she presents her first spending proposal in March.

Current Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey, a Clarklake Republican, did not embrace the proposal, however.

It “assumes a large increase in the gas tax is a sustainable solution to road funding, but advances in automotive technology make gas taxes an undesirable long-term solution,” he said in a statement. “All the proposed increase does is place a greater burden on families and household budgets without solving road funding for the future.”

The proposal was released in conjunction with the announced formation of the Michigan Policy Consensus Project, which was launched in collaboration with the nonprofit Center for Michigan. The project, which is co-chaired by Emerson and Sikkema, will offer “consensus” policy recommendations in Lansing at a time of divided government.

 

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NATSO releases industry guide addressing top industry questions

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NATSO said "Answers to the Top 18 Questions about the Travel Center Industry" is an essential resource for data on travel center and truckstop industry operations. (Courtesy: NATSO)

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — NATSO, representing America’s travel plazas and truckstops, has released a detailed industry guide  answering the top questions about the travel center industry.

Industry knowledge can improve business performance and help operators drive targeted results, according to Darren Schulte, NATSO’s vice president, membership.

But finding answers isn’t always easy. This is why Schulte dug into the more frequently asked questions about the truckstop and travel center industry and answered them in this new industry guide.

“Answers to the Top 18 Questions about the Travel Center Industry” is an essential resource for data on travel center and truckstop industry operations, Schulte said. The guide contains comparable data that operators can utilize to assess their own operations and better understand the competitive landscape. Operators can then use this information to improve their analysis and strategize advantageous investment decisions.

With the report in hand, operators can gain greater insight into the average sales at a full-service restaurant or a garage or service center, how much a professional truck driver spends on fuel at a truckstop, average staffing costs at a location, and specific sales and costs within a location.

The downloadable “Answers to the Top 18 Questions About the Travel Center Industry” is available for free to NATSO members and non-members for $250.

To download or purchase the guide, click here. 

“The Answers to the Top 18 Questions About the Travel Center Industry” was produced in partnership with Travel Center Profit Drivers, a NATSO initiative that provides access to specialized, experienced consultants and the tools they have created to help travel centers thrive. Truckstop and travel center operators looking for help building or growing their business should contact Don Quinn, NATSO Services vice president, at (703) 739-8572 or [email protected] to discuss how the NATSO team can help.

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Ohio’s Scott Woodrome wins top honors at Newsal Truck Driving Championships

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FedEx Freight driver Scott Woodrome stands beside the two trophies he won at the 2019 Newsal Truck Driving Championships. It was the second consecutive year he was named Bendix Grand Champion. He also won the Twin Trailer Division. (Courtesy: AMERICAN TRUCKING ASSOCIATIONS)

PITTSBURGH — Scott Woodrome, a professional truck driver from Middletown, Ohio, representing team FedEx Freight, has been named the Bendix Grand Champion of the 2019 Newsal Truck Driving Championships conducted by the American Trucking Associations.

This is Woodrome’s second consecutive year of winning the Bendix Grand Champion trophy.

“Congratulations to Scott and his great team at FedEx Freight, as well as the entire Ohio trucking industry, for repeating as this year’s Bendix Grand Champion Award winner,” said ATA President and CEO Chris Spear. “This process began with thousands of drivers competing at the state level, but only one driver can emerge as overall grand champion. It’s a true reflection of Scott’s commitment to safety and the trucking industry as a whole that he was able to take home top honors again this year.”

Woodrome, a longtime competitor in truck driving championships with more than 1.8 million lifetime safe driving miles, competed in the Twins division. He has been in the trucking industry for 25 years, spending 13 of those years with FedEx Freight.

Woodrome took home the 2018 Bendix Grand Champion Award for his performance in the Tanker class, as well as the 2017 Newsal Champion Award in the Tanker class and six Ohio state championships.

“It’s been such an honor to host hundreds of our nation’s elite truck drivers this week and showcase their skills as safe professionals,” said ATA Chairman Barry Pottle, president of Pottle’s Transportation. “From start to finish, Pittsburgh was a great location and we loved to see such enthusiastic support from the families and friends who came out to support these impressive drivers.”

ATA also recognized John Sanderson as the 2019 Rookie of the Year. Sanderson claimed the title after an outstanding performance in the three-axle division. To be a “rookie,” drivers must be first-time competitors at the state level who advanced to nationals. This year, there were 32 rookies competing at the Newsal Truck Driving Championships. Sanderson was the only rookie who advanced to the championship round of competition.

In addition to the individual awards, the team of drivers from Pennsylvania went home with the Team Championship. Pennsylvania hosted this week’s competition and had three drivers advance to the championship round of competition. The state of North Carolina took home 2nd place honors, with Virginia coming in 3rd place.

Several individuals excelled outside the driving course throughout this week’s competition, demonstrating their professionalism, knowledge and dedication to the trucking industry. Professional truck driver Robert Dolan of XPO Logistics was recognized with the highly-coveted Professional Excellence award. Additionally, Jason Imhoff of Walmart Transportation is taking home the Vehicle Condition Award for his outstanding performance during the pre-trip inspections.

Nine drivers achieved perfect scores on the written exam phase of the championships and are receiving the Highest Written Exam Award for their efforts. The nine drivers were Paul Brandon, Miguel Corral, Ina Daly, Brent Glasenapp, Julie Hjelle, Barry Kraemer, Jottyn Santos, Jimmie Wisley and Scott Woodrome.

Champions from each of the nine vehicle classes were also announced. Joining Woodrome on the list of national champions include (listed in order of first, second and third with company and home state):

Three-axle: Brian Walker, UPS Freight, North Carolina; Jeffrey Slaten, YRC Freight, Florida; and John Sanderson, FedEx Express, Oregon

Four axle: Adam Heim, FedEx Freight, Idaho; David Rohman, FedEx Express, North Carolina; and James Plaxco, Old Dominion Freight Line, Oregon;

Five axle: David Hall, ABF Freight, Arkansas; Ina Daly, XPO Logistics, Arizona; and Alphonso Lewis, YRC Freight, Alabama.

Flatbed: Basher Pierce, FedEx Freight, North Carolina; Scott Osborne, FedEx Freight, Mississippi; and Eric Flick, FedEx Freight, Nevada.

Sleeper Berth: Mike White, Walmart Transportation, Indiana; Terry Wood, Walmart Transportation, Pennsylvania; and Michael Barnes, Walmart Transportation, Virginia.

Straight Truck: Jason Imhoff; Walmart Transportation, Ohio; Robert Dolan, XPO Logistics, Pennsylvania; and Matthew Hart, FedEx Freight, Nevada

Tank Truck: Paul Brandon, FedEx Freight, Connecticut; George Wells, Shamrock Foods, Arizona; and Cecil Hicks, FedEx Freight, North Carolina

Twins: Scott Woodrome, FedEx Freight, Ohio; David Mogler, FedEx Freight, Colorado; and Shannon Lynch, United Parcel Service, Indiana

Step Van: Adam Stroup, FedEx Express, Nebraska; Gregory Long, FedEx Express, Virginia; and Eric Damon, FedEx Express, Colorado.

ACT 1 served as a premier sponsor of the 2019 Newsal Truck Driving Championships and Newsal Step Van Driving Championships.

Since 2011, Bendix Commercial Vehicle Systems has been the sole sponsor of the Bendix Newsal Truck Driving Championships Grand Champion.

 

 

 

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Peterbilt Motors opens fifth technician institute campus

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Since launching in 2013, the Peterbilt Technician Institute program has graduated more than 600 factory-certified technicians and boasts a 95% placement rate at a Peterbilt service location. (Courtesy: PETERBILT MOTORS CO.)

DENTON, Texas — Peterbilt Motors Co. has opened the company’s fifth Peterbilt Technician Institute (PTI) campus in Rancho Cucamonga, California.

“The PTI program helps meet the Peterbilt dealer network’s growing demand for entry level qualified diesel technicians.  The unique value proposition for graduates of PTI is finding its graduates jobs that often turn into long-term careers,” said Brian Brooks, program manager for the Peterbilt Technician Institute.

“The 50% growth of the Peterbilt dealer network this decade ensures that there are plenty of long-term career opportunities with our dealers, many of which begin as a diesel technician. Through the Peterbilt Technician Institute, Peterbilt is educating the next generation of diesel technicians to deliver exceptional service and drive uptime for our customers,” added Peterbilt’s Technician Program Manager Curtis Crisp.

Since launching in 2013, the PTI program has graduated more than 600 factory-certified technicians and boasts a 95% placement rate at a Peterbilt service location.

Each PTI student earns 12 Peterbilt certifications as well as certifications for both the PACCAR MX-11 and MX-13 engines as they prepare for a career in the diesel industry. PTI is a collaborative program with Universal Technical Institute.

For more information about Peterbilt, visit www.peterbilt.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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