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FMCSA reminds truckers drug, alcohol clearinghouse coming soon

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The clearinghouse will be a professional truck driver database that will serve as a centralized record of all failed drug or alcohol tests, whether from pre-employment screenings, post-crash tests or random. (©2019 FOTOSEARCH)

Remember two years ago, when it seemed like the entire trucking industry was counting down the days to the ELD deadline?

Well, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) wants drivers to be aware of another countdown happening right now, although with much less hoopla than the Great ELD Panic of ’17.

At the recent Mid-America Trucking Show, Joe DeLorenzo, FMCSA director of enforcement and compliance, gave a presentation to raise awareness about the soon-to-be launched federal CDL Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse.

Mandated as part of the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act, or MAP-21, in 2012, the same piece of legislation that bore the ELD mandate, the drug and alcohol clearinghouse is scheduled to launch January 6, 2020.

The clearinghouse will be a professional truck driver database that will serve as a centralized record of all failed drug or alcohol tests, whether from pre-employment screenings, post-crash tests or random. All refusals to take a drug or alcohol test will also be recorded.

“I came here with a bit of a mission on the drug and alcohol clearinghouse rule,” DeLorenzo said to the MATS audience. It has come to the agency’s attention the clearinghouse has been flying under the radar, a bit, and not enough drivers seem to know about it or they haven’t gotten a full explanation of what the clearinghouse will contain and what it will be used for.

DeLorenzo said drivers have said to him, “Well, I don’t do drugs, so I don’t have to worry about this.”

“Actually, that’s not the case,” DeLorenzo said. “Everybody needs to know about this and get going on it.”

Starting in January, carriers will be required to query the database as part of the new-driver hiring process to ensure that the candidate does not have any failed tests or refusals in the previous three years. Carriers can only gain access to a driver’s record and make the mandatory query with the consent of the driver, and the only way a driver can give that consent is to be registered in the clearinghouse.

So, technically, drivers are not going to be required to register in the clearinghouse, DeLorenzo said. However, if you ever want to get hired anywhere again you’ll have to be registered in the clearinghouse.

“If you’re just kind of staying where you’re at, no intention of leaving, or if you are working for yourself, or if you are nearing retirement, you may decide not to register,” he said. “But in an industry with 100%-plus turnover, I know people are always looking for a new job, a different job, a better job. Any driver who’s going to apply for a new job after this rule goes into effect is going to have to have an account and is going to have to be able to go in.”

DeLorenzo explained why the clearinghouse has been set up this way. Today, when someone applies for a job, they get tested as part of the process. They fail the test and the carrier doesn’t hire them. Three months later, they stay clean just long enough, the apply somewhere else and that company hires them, not knowing about the prior failure.

Starting January 6, carriers will be required to upload notices into the clearinghouse of all failed drug tests by drivers and driving applicants, as well as all refusals to test, as they occur.

The database is designed to go back three years. At first, employers will have to conduct both electronic queries within the clearinghouse and manual inquiries with previous employers to cover the preceding three years to meet the mandated hiring requirement. As of January 6, 2023, they will only need to check the clearinghouse.

Drivers’ records will only contain positive tests and refusals. When a prospective employer makes a query, they will be told if the record is clean. If there are entries, they will be able to get more details.

If a driver has a failed test, the database will also record whether that driver has completed the return-to-duty process.

Drivers will also be able to review their own records, DeLorenzo said, which is another incentive to register. If a driver finds an entry they wish to dispute, they can file a DataQ request to have it corrected.

The clearinghouse website is already up and running. Drivers can go to to read about the clearinghouse and to register their email addresses for any updates. Actual registration is scheduled to begin in October.

DeLorenzo said he is hoping to raise more awareness about the clearinghouse now so they start registering in October instead of finding out the hard way come February when they try to apply for a job.

“What I’m trying to avoid, actually, is human nature, which is to wait until the very last minute.”

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25 Comments

25 Comments

  1. Ron

    April 19, 2019 at 5:36 pm

    Clearing house? So you want a job you have to be registered in the program? How much does it cost and who pays for it or is this just another program just to suck money out of drivers pockets in order to hire another lsyer of bureaucrats

    • Dunebuggy Dave

      April 20, 2019 at 2:52 pm

      Yep it’s just another example of our poorly-run government going after a hard-working truck drivers instead of the damn criminals
      You’d think they would be spending that much time and effort going ever crooked politicians or crooked police officers.I think whatever legislation that goes in place for drivers should go in place for the law enforcement officers as well because how can you police a group of people and not police yourself on it? you never hear about that legislation do you? And what they’re going to end up with is a bunch of little boys the don’t really want a truck they’re doing it for minimum they’re going to be doing it for minimum wage with all the cost already involved in that we barely make anything as it is electronic logs and ruined it so you end up with a bunch of little boys like I said they’re out here they don’t care about what they’re doing did he know bride and what they’re doing or they’re too worried about the damn legislation they might breathe wrong or part wrong or eat at the wrong time you know what I mean?

    • Chris Walters

      April 20, 2019 at 7:19 pm

      I cant wait until they anal probe us while we are driving down the road so when we get upset and blood pressure gets too high we can be shut down immediately for a undisclosed amount of time. Better yet how about we just get tired of our over regulated industry, being harrassed by the DOT and state and local police,and tell all you people to shove these trucks up your asses and let you drive to the coast to pick up your crap! Hmmmm.. I like that one. You drivers out there better start thinking about organizing a real stick together attitude before they start injecting those thermometer size probes up your asses and sending your stats back to your companies. Happy trails!

  2. DelRay

    April 19, 2019 at 7:56 pm

    And they wonder why no one wants to drive over the road. I’ve had a CDL/ chaufers licence since I was 16. Haven’t used it for years hold it only for emergency. Why do this for the money involved?

  3. loral Roger

    April 19, 2019 at 9:48 pm

    And they want to know where have the Drivers gone? When are the drivers going to stand up for there rights? I started driving to be employed and left alone so I could do my job without being bother for 8 hours. It makes me sick to hear a driver to say I don’t do drugs so whatever. These driver are the problem because it’s a right problem.

    • Hector Santana

      April 20, 2019 at 6:47 am

      I couldn’t agree more, and also : I we the “ Good one “ that are left on driving, I we going to get pay more. Meaning that finally trucking will be back again a middle class job, where we can make 150, plus. Otherwise it’s not worth it sacrificing soo much.

    • Neal

      April 20, 2019 at 8:32 am

      You don’t have a “right” to drive. You are CHOOSING to drive and therefore subject to ANY law they pass. Don’t like it? Get a different job. I’m all for this. I’m tired of spending my resources hiring deadbeat dope heads. This will help keep dangerous people from driving. Oh and when there is a shortage of drivers, the pay rises. The drivers that are doing it right bring home the cash…

      • John Lee

        April 20, 2019 at 11:08 am

        Yes, I do have a “right” to drive! I’ve taken care of my mvr over the decades! I’ve stayed at one employer for several years! I’ve taken care of the mountain of paperwork that gets thrown at us! I’ve jumped thru all of the hoops to stay legal. Don’t tell me that I don’t have a right to drive! Don’t tell me that it’s a privilege! I’ve earned the right to drive with 30+ years of driving! I’ve earned the right! You’re not going to put me down and act like I’m some expendable wanna-be rookie Driver that you can treat how you want to! Attitudes like yours need to be dealt with and thrown by the road side. I’ve tried my best to take care of my business over the years to have someone like you downgrade me!

      • Ted

        April 20, 2019 at 12:47 pm

        Thanks, Neal. I have a CDL and have no problem with this.
        The roads are dangerous enough.

  4. Jason Bashant

    April 19, 2019 at 10:13 pm

    Meanwhile, they will never address the REAL issue of legalized slavery that trucking entails…the 1% keep marching on and on and on…

  5. Whiskey

    April 19, 2019 at 11:01 pm

    I wonder if the day will ever come where law makers fall under the same standards and monitoring methods a simple blue collar worker finds himself in…..until we are judged with equal standards, this over reach in my book.

  6. Only me

    April 20, 2019 at 12:37 am

    Well i hope to every driver that meets all requirements it also gives them more value for higher pay? Too many liabilities requirements dangers we put up with and todays pay? Its just not worth it.

  7. JamesBond

    April 20, 2019 at 3:56 am

    When will this be implemented for politicians and industry management?
    Answer – Never
    If it’s good for the goose, it’s good for the gander. That’s called leadership.
    Park the mucking trucks, until this place comes to its senses.
    Truck drivers shouldn’t be treated as 2nd class citizens, or guilty before being proven innocent.

  8. 007 James Bond

    April 20, 2019 at 4:17 am

    When are they going to start to mandate, and regulate better pay????? Why they keep missing that part???

  9. Jeff

    April 20, 2019 at 4:30 am

    Another government overreach, everyone needs to find ways not to work period. Let the gov… Keep up their families. The ones coming up with all this bull…., Are they enrolled, LoL, right. No I don’t do drugs so go hunting somewhere else. Just so sick of crap!!! Solution is so simple, downsize the government, and all of our problems over. Happily ever after.

  10. R Kelly

    April 20, 2019 at 5:40 am

    I wonder if the data base will also register color and consistency of the urinalysis and whether i peed enough. Oh, we have a trucker shortage…hey lets implement more policies to keep drivers from being employed. I agree bad drivers should not be on the road but reality is that they are and work. If all policies were actually enforced we probably wouldn’t have people moving goods anymore. Next thing i need to put my bowel movements into a registered database with time and date color and consistency because everyone knows a constipated driver is a dangerous driver (disclaimer: contains sarcasm)

  11. 007 James Bond

    April 20, 2019 at 5:44 am

    I can see automated trucks in the very near future!! Taking crystal meth out of trucking won’t makes America great again!!!!. The people who’s making these decisions never driven a Semi across the US. First you give up way to much more of your LIFE to begin with. The pay is very bad meaning you work 24 hours a day and only get paid for TWO!!!!!!!!!!!! IF YOU NEVER SMOKE A CIGARETTE BEFORE IN YOUR LIFE TIME BY THE END OF THE FIRST SIX WEEKS ON THE ROAD, BEFORE MOVING ON TO THE SEVENTH WEEK YOU WILL FIND YOURSELF WITH A PACK OF CAMEL OR Marlboro or both for the rest of your time driving trucks. My point is you have to SMOKE,SWALLOW,SNIFF,SUCK,OR INJECT something to do this job. Safest way for cargo moving forward TRAINS! Most major cities have a distance of 250 to 300 hundreds miles apart from each other states by states, that would allow drivers to work 8 to 10 hours shift get paid hourly rate, and go home at the of shift!!. WIN, WIN, WIN for everyone except Suadi Arabia!!. The Environment would be the biggest winner!!!.

  12. Marc Rettus

    April 20, 2019 at 7:17 am

    Self driving trucks will take care of the problem. They WILL be in your future.

    “Mandate higher pay.” BAHAHAHA, what country and economic system do you will under?

    Oh, dumbass, elected officials don’t drive 78,000 pound vehicles.

    I have had to fill a cup at every company I have ever worked for.

  13. Kenema

    April 20, 2019 at 7:56 am

    I don’t do illegal drugs but I’m not signing up, either. 35 years doing this nonsense and the gov can shove it up it’s pooper.

  14. Mg watson

    April 20, 2019 at 8:07 am

    Exciting to see folks stand up for themselves

  15. John

    April 20, 2019 at 8:16 am

    Don’t matter to me one way or the other but I thought all of this info was already collected and stored via DAC? Refuse a drug test under the current system and see what happens.

  16. John Geiger

    April 20, 2019 at 10:40 am

    Why should everyone have to register? Good old fashioned communism. Big brother wants to know everything about you. Where’s my 4th amendment rights and the others? If you want to use alcohol and drugs while driving a cmv damn right you should register, like myself and others that take this job seriously and don’t do that crap hell yes room to negotiate for more money. When we be getting people in the fmcsa that actually has a brain and some common sense to get rid of the bad ones instead of keeping on punishing the good ones everytime. I bet these same regulations are coming from representatives and people from states who legalized pot for recreational use.

  17. Vincent

    April 20, 2019 at 11:25 am

    Trucking sucks if it’s not physical,log books, permits,drug test.Whats nxt count the shit stains in your draws to say ur over hrs.cause u didn’t wipe ur butt….Haha that’s why no one wants to drive a truck…..

  18. Steve Travis

    April 20, 2019 at 1:12 pm

    32 years on the road and I can’t wait to turn in my keys. More big government regulation. And I will not be signing up for the program. F U.

  19. Mr o

    April 20, 2019 at 4:34 pm

    So another words clearinghouse is the liable party if drivers info is exposed to the public and also hacked information ! I think all the truckers and future truckers should refuse to give info and all the trucking companies will be at a loss. There are crying now that they are short handed so why put more restrictions on the American workers!! I guess that clearinghouse has a agenda …

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ATA’s Costello: The biggest problem with 2019 is it had to follow 2018

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Speaking at the annual Arkansas Trucking Association For Business Conference, American Trucking Association Chief Economist and Senior Vice President Bob Costello says that fears of an impending recession are premature. The industry is still growing, just not at the breakneck pace of late 2017 and 2018. (The Trucker: KLINT LOWRY)

We’ve all experienced it. You’ve been driving 70 mph for a while. Suddenly, you’re forced to slow down to 45 mph. It feels like you are crawling, even though a part of you knows if you were going this fast on a residential street, you’d feel like you were blazing.

Bob Costello, chief economist and senior vice president of international trade policy and cross-border operations for the American Trucking Associations, has noticed that a lot of people in trucking are having a similar sensation when they look at the economic health of the industry.

Costello was in Little Rock, Arkansas, May 15 for the annual Arkansas Trucking Association For Business Conference and Vendor Showcase to give his perspective on the current state of the economy and the industry.

Everywhere he goes these days, Costello told the crowd, everyone keeps asking, “Are we headed to a recession?” After all, things definitely slowing down.

“I don’t believe that, folks,” Costello said flatly. “However, we have to reset our expectations. What I say is, we’re slowing, but we’re still growing. We have some reduced momentum. We are headed back to trend.”

The biggest problem about 2019 is it came after 2018, and 2018 was a hard act to follow.

“The big mistake is to look at year-over-year comps,” Costello said. “Those are not going to be good because 2018 was so good.

“Instead, take a more long-term look at where we were compared to several years ago and what direction we are heading. We may not be skyrocketing like we did for about a year and a half, but we are still moving upward, albeit at a more normal pace.

“Really, we’re in a decent spot. It’s not going to be 2018. But it’s certainly not going to be terrible, either.”

Costello said he wouldn’t expect a recession until 2021, at the earliest. Part of that is because the Federal Reserve has said they were going to put interest rate hikes on pause.

“Economic expansions do not die of old age,” Costello said. “They’re usually murdered.” And the Fed is often the culprit, but this time their restraint has come in time to hold off a recession.

That’s not to say there’s nothing to worry about, he added.  Gross domestic product took an upswing in the first quarter of 2019, Costello said, up 3.2%. That sounds good, until you consider that it was inflated by retailers stockpiling inventories at the time because of the threat of tariffs against China.

“I talk to retailers all the time,” Costello said. “They were bringing in as much stuff as they could.”

The term gets thrown around a lot, but Costello fears the U.S. is getting dangerously close to a genuine trade war with China. With tariffs going up, everything is going to get more expensive, and you don’t have to be an economic whiz to know what that will do to consumer spending.

Costello expects we’ll see consistent growth in the 2% range for the foreseeable future. Not spectacular, “but it’s still growth.”

Consumer sales is one of the key factors to look at that affects trucking. And one of the key factors in assessing the health of the consumer is to look at the job market. Here, the numbers are so good as to be almost inexplicable, Costello said.

For the past year, the American Job market has added an average of 212,000 a month.

“I don’t know where these people are coming from,” Costello said. You can expect an increase of about 60,000 simply from population growth, he said, “anything above that and you’re finding folks from somewhere.”

Some say it’s people returning to the job market from the recession, Costello said, but that was 10 years ago. Could immigration account for some of it? Maybe a little. But wherever they’re coming from, he doesn’t expect it can continue at this pace. The thing to remember, once again, is once it does, it only means it’s getting closer to normal.

The same could be said for the unemployment rate. It’s now at the lowest it’s been since December 1969. “Do you know we now have more job openings than we have unemployed people?” he said. “It’s been that way for almost two years now.”

Of course, when the job market’s good, salaries go up. And when incomes go up, spending goes up.

Another key indicator for trucking is the housing market. With 1.23 million new homes expected to be built, this is one of the less spectacular aspects of the economic picture, Costello said, but sometimes you have to adjust how you look at the numbers. For starters, millennials are not as concerned about home ownership as previous generations. Also, in a lot of desirable areas, there just isn’t any space left to build.

Another area where the industry needs to look at the numbers differently is inventories. Costello said. With the rise in eCommerce and quicker delivery guarantees, more merchandise has to be out there in the supply chain for local delivery, no matter where “local” happens to be.

“This is the change in the supply chain right here, and it has all sorts of ramifications,” Costello said.

Average length of haul for truckload has gone from nearly 800 miles to 507 miles last year, he said. “And what does that mean for driver pay and how we pay them?” The raises companies have given aren’t making up for those lost miles. How will that affect driver retention and the driver shortage?

“Let’s be honest, the driver shortage is an over-the-road for-hire truckload problem, it’s not the entire industry,” Costello said.

So, there are challenges the industry needs to address, but the overall state of the industry and the economy are still strong.

“If I have to summarize, 2018 was the best year ever, post-deregulation,” Costello said.  “I think if you took out last year and historically compared it, we’d be in a lot better mood.”

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TCA honors three professional truck drivers as Highway Angels

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From left, Michael Morgan, Peter Lester and Sam Dyess have been named Highway Angels by the Truckload Carriers Association. (Courtesy: TCA)

ALEXANDRIA, Va. —  Peter Lester, Sam Dyess  and Michael Morgan have been named Highway Angels by the Truckload Carriers Association in recognition for heroic action while on duty.

Lester, who lives in Vero Beach, Florida, and is a a professional truck driver for Carroll Fulmer Logistics Corp. of Groveland, Florida, is being recognized for saving a fellow truck driver’s life and thwarting fire at facility.

Dyess, who lives in Killeen, Texas, and is a professional truck driver for Melton Truck Lines of Tulsa, Oklahoma, is being recognized for assisting a couple whose vehicle was pushed into his truck by another truck on a mountain overpass during a blizzard.

Morgan, who lives at San Angelo, Texas, and is a professional truck driver for Melton Truck Lines of Tulsa, Oklahoma, is being recognized for his willingness to assist motorists after they lost control of their SUV on slick roads and veered off the highway

On December 8, 2018, Lester was making an early morning delivery at the Coca Cola facility in Jacksonville, Florida.  There were a few parking spots available out on the road on a residential street, so Lester pulled in there to do some paperwork as he had arrived early to the delivery.  There were two trucks parked there already, and there was just enough room for Lester to back in behind the second truck.  Once he got settled, he noticed a light coming from the front of the first truck and that seemed out of place.  Quickly, he noticed it was not a light, yet a flame, and he then saw smoke coming out from under the front wheels of the truck.

He pulled around and got on the horn to him to try and alert the truck, not knowing if someone was in the cab or not.

“I pulled the airhorn to notify anyone in there and the truck in front of him as well,” he said. “The flames then all broke out and more smoke came rushing out.  I hit the horn again with one hand and called 911 with the other.”.

Lester pulled his truck up to the Coca Cola entrance to alert the guard and facility that there was a fire near the premises, which backs up to a wooded area. By that point luckily the fire department was on their way so Peter knew first responders would be able to take it from there.  Although Lester never saw anyone get out of the trucks, he later found out there were people in both trucks, and saw the second truck pull out to safety.

“I’ve been driving since 1984 and I’ve never seen anything blow up the way this did so quickly,” Lester said. It started out looking like headlights, and then mushroomed in o flames.  I don’t believe the security guard would have noticed, so I am glad I pulled in when I did.”

On Thursday, November 24, 2018, Dyess was just west of Cheyenne, Wyoming, going over the mountains on Interstate 80 with a load on his flatbed headed to Washington state. The day was overcast when he’d left Cheyenne and now it started snowing hard. The temperature was in the low 20s.

“It was really coming down and I couldn’t see the lines in the road,” Dyess said.

He slowed to 30-40 mph. Three to four inches had already accumulated by the time he reached the overpass.

There was another truck up ahead of him and a Jeep Wrangler was traveling between the two trucks. Suddenly, for no apparent reason, the truck in front of the Wrangler stopped in the middle of the interstate and the Wrangler stopped behind him. Dyess had plenty of follow distance and stopped 20-25 feet behind the Wrangler. There was another truck behind him. Dyess checked his mirrors and a moment later saw the first truck rolling backward. “We were on an incline. I don’t know if he missed a gear or was sliding,” he said.

The Wrangler shifted into reverse but could only go so far before being struck by the first truck and pushed into Dyess’s truck. Dyess couldn’t roll back because of the truck behind him. The Wrangler’s spare tire was pushed into Dyess’s front bumper and the force blew out the back window of the Wrangler. “I was laying on the horn to get the other trucker’s attention,” Dyess said. “Then it moved forward and took off, never stopping to check on the Wrangler.” The Wrangler resumed driving as did Dyess. He called the safety manager at Melton to report the incident relaying the information he was able to get off the first truck. He followed the Wrangler to the first exit where they both pulled to the side of the road. Dyess jumped out and went to check on the driver and passenger. “They said they were okay and had called the state troopers but were told it would be at least an hour before a trooper could arrive.” Dyess invited the driver and his wife to sit in his warm truck for nearly two hours while they waited. “We had a great conversation,” Dyess said.

Dyess’s good deed that day didn’t go unnoticed. The couple he helped contacted Melton Chairman and CEO Bob Peterson with a letter describing the incident first-hand. The driver and his wife were traveling home after a holiday weekend spent with family and were grateful for Dyess’s help. “He offered us water and waited patiently with us. We thanked him for his help and then he said something I won’t soon forget: ‘We are the knights of the highway and it’s our duty to make sure everyone is safe.’ He possesses an attitude and professionalism that should make you proud.”

Dyess is humble about his role that day. “I was just doing the right thing; trying to take care of business and maintain integrity,” he said. “Being a professional driver, it’s about more than just getting from Point A to Point B. You also need to take care of everyone around you; that’s my job.”

It was 8 a.m. February 12, and Morgan was on Highway 295 en route to Camden, New Jersey. He was trying to get ahead of a bad storm. It was snowing and sleeting and the roads were starting to get bad. Because of the poor conditions, Morgan was going about 45 mph in the right lane. Suddenly, a Lexus SUV came around on his left and got just far enough in front of Morgan for him to see the vehicle’s license plate before the driver lost control on the slick road and spun out. Morgan had just enough time to apply the brakes, slow the truck, and miss hitting the SUV by inches before it veered off the road and slammed into a tree.

Another truck driver traveling behind Morgan saw what happened and radioed him asking if he was okay and told Morgan he would call emergency services. Morgan pulled his truck to the shoulder and went to check on the SUV. There was extensive damage to the vehicle. The driver’s side had hit the tree. All the windows were broken and the roof was smashed in preventing the doors from being opened. There were two men inside. Although they were badly shaken, they didn’t appear to be injured.

Morgan saw a wedding band on the driver’s hand and started asking him questions about his family to distract him as they waited for state troopers to arrive. “He told me he had an eight-month-old son at home named Michael,” Morgan says with some emotion in his voice. “I have four kids of my own. I would hope that if something like that happened to me someone would stop to help. I was raised in a small community where everyone takes care of everyone,” he says. “You have to have compassion for others. It’s the right thing to do, otherwise we’re not doing what we’re supposed to in life.”

For their willingness to assist others in need, TCA has presented the three drivers with a certificate, patch, lapel pin and truck decals. Their employers have also received a certificate acknowledging their driver as a Highway Angel. Since the program’s inception in August 1997, hundreds of drivers have been recognized as Highway Angels for the exemplary kindness, courtesy, and courage they have displayed while on the job. EpicVue sponsors TCA’s Highway Angel program.

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Panel discussion focuses on major infrastructure issues facing the U.S.

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From left, Paul Skoutelas, Linda Bauer Darr, Jim Tymon and Dave Bauer sit for a panel discussion on major infrastructure issues. (Courtesy: AASHTO Journal)

WASHINGTON — A panel discussion last month during a legislative summit sponsored by the American Road & Transportation Builders Association focused on the major infrastructure issues facing the United States, especially in terms of generating more funding for transportation projects.

“The message we’re trying to get out there is that [transportation] not just about building roads like it was 30 years ago. It’s about maintaining what we have, operating it as efficiently as possible, and using all modes as part of a larger mobility network,” said Jim Tymon, executive director of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO).

His remarks and those of others on the panel were printed in the Journal, the official publication of AASHTO.

“Transportation really has an impact on quality of life and it is one of the few areas where we can come together in a bipartisan fashion,” he said.

Tymon also remained “cautiously optimistic” that some sort of infrastructure package will be agreed upon and passed by Congress and President Donald Trump. “Will it be $2 trillion? $1 trillion? We will take what we can get,” he noted. “But any kind of [infrastructure] package will have to address the highway trust fund shortfall and the time window is getting tight to do it. Because, come January 1 next year, everything will be locked down for the 2020 presidential election.”

Like AASHTO’s Tymon, Linda Bauer Darr, president and CEO of the American Council of Engineering Companies, said she remains “optimistic that something is going to happen – the only question is how big that something will be.”

The key sticking point is how to pay for it, she noted.

“[Members of Congress] will not stick their necks out until the president explains how to pay for it. You can’t not have the money. There are lots of infrastructure plans out there – take your pick – but it is where will the money come from that will decide everything.”

Dave Bauer, ARTBA’s president and CEO, agreed with that assessment but with a key twist: “We must embrace the commitment to improve the entire transportation infrastructure network [and] more money is certainly important. But we must clearly articulate what we will achieve with those resources.”

He added that it is “on us to make them understand the benefits” of increased infrastructure investment.

Paul Skoutelas, president and CEO of the American Public Transportation Association, described that view this way: “If you go to the dance, you have to dance.”

He added that “it is an amazing time in the sense that everyone is talking infrastructure, where there is this appetite for action.” To that end, Skoutelas said “we must make sure we are ready to act” when an infrastructure package is unveiled.

“We know things can turn on a dime so we need to be ready, be engaged. Our position is: tell the story about infrastructure. We think the justification speaks for itself but, but we need to remind people about the benefits of it. And our recent survey suggests the American people are ready for greater infrastructure investment, with improved mobility a big reason for it.”

AASHTO’s Tymon said that not only is “data out there showing public support” for more infrastructure funding, there is data showing that legislators won’t suffer repercussions if they support increased funding.

“We need to let them [Congressional members] know there is safety in transportation from a vote standpoint. Many states increased revenue for transportation – over 30 in the last five years – and regardless of whether it was a ‘red’ state [majority Republican] or ‘blue’ state [majority Democrat], no one lost their seat. We need to let them know transportation is a bipartisan issue and that your constituents will support you for raising funding for it.”

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