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Oregon transportation needs to continue to grow



Oregon's transportation system faces long-term challenges not included in the 2017 legislation. More state bridges will need upgrades in the coming years. And rural roads continue to be a high-need area. (©2019 FOTOSEARCH)

SALEM, Ore. — The 2017 Oregon Legislature pumped $5.3 billion into the state’s highway system over the next decade — the largest transportation package in decades.

Today, 15 projects are under construction, funded by the legislation that created Keep Oregon Moving.

About 80 other projects are in different stages of planning, such as design work and obtaining rights of way, according to agency data examined by the Statesman Journal.

And even more projects will unfold as the funding legislation generates revenue in the years ahead.

This article was written by Ben Botkin of the Salem, Oregon, Statesman Journal

By some measures, the Oregon Department of Transportation is doing well.

Roadwork and behind the scenes design have started on a handful of projects, including repaving I-5 from Salem to Woodburn. Other projects include upgrading or replacing bridges, fortifying highways against the threat of earthquakes and enhancing interchanges to reduce congestion.

And the agency is posting transparency metrics on a website so taxpayers can track the contracts in real time.

But advocates and agency officials alike warn it’s not nearly enough.

Oregon’s transportation system faces long-term challenges not included in the 2017 legislation.

More state bridges will need upgrades in the coming years. And rural roads continue to be a high-need area, especially for legislators representing districts outside Oregon’s urban areas.

The plan passed in 2017 had a fourfold aim: Preserving the existing system of roads and bridges; reducing congestion, particularly in the Portland-metro area; increasing transportation choices, such as mass transit and bicycle paths; and public accountability and transparency.

Here’s a look at what the plan has done so far, what’s ahead and what the state’s needs are.

Unmet bridge needs

Oregon’s infrastructure needs are highlighted on an industry report card released this month by the American Society of Civil Engineers.

Despite Oregon’s planned investment in infrastructure, the state still received an overall grade of C-, a mediocre outcome that reflects the state’s long-term and unfunded needs in critical areas like bridges, roads, levees and wastewater.

The needs are heightened by an awareness that Oregon faces a 20% chance of a massive 9.0 magnitude earthquake in the Cascadia Subduction Zone, which puts older bridges at risk.

To put it in context, nearly 20% of Oregon’s 8,161 bridges and culverts are at risk of becoming structurally deficient in the near future, the report found. Bridge maintenance needs are expected to grow and require nearly three times the funding from House Bill 2017.

State transportation officials say Oregon needs to stay vigilant about the state’s needs, despite the benefits from HB2017.

“It truly is a race that probably doesn’t have a finish line,” ODOT Director Matt Garrett said at recent press event with the American Society of Civil Engineers.

Accountability measures

Oregonians are already starting to pay for the transportation improvements. A 10-cent gasoline tax is unfolding in four stages. It started with a 4-cent increase in 2018.

Three more 2-cent increases are slated for 2020, 2022 and 2024, provided the state meets accountability measures set by the law. Those include reporting information transparently to the public about project details, costs and schedules.

That work has already started, even though work on most of the road projects hasn’t started yet. The state launched its transparency, accountability and performance website in January, which is required by the state law.

“The public, media and stakeholders now have access for the first time ever to condition data on bridges and pavement in every single city and county in the state as well as for the state highway system,” said Travis Brouwer, assistant director of the Oregon Department of Transportation.

While each piece runs on a slightly different schedule, in a way, it’s all part of a broader plan, state officials said.

“We have taken this very seriously and really treated it like a transportation highway project in terms of having a project plan and deliverables and due dates,” Brouwer said.

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Dollars can change

The public also can see if a project has come in below or above its budget.

That could easily become a factor with the planned Center Street bridge between west Salem and downtown, which may cost about $100 million for seismic upgrades instead of the $40 million lawmakers budgeted in 2017.

“If one project comes in under budget, we can ship that money to another project in the region,” Brouwer said.

At this point, there aren’t any major delays anticipated, state officials said.

That can change, if the state’s past performance is any indication. Data from state transportation projects in 2018 show about 80 percent of nearly 100 projects were completed on time.

The bridge construction could start in 2024 and other projects are spaced out even further into the future.

Interstate 5 paving

Elsewhere, there are visible signs of work.

Road crews began work this month on a 12.4-mile stretch of Interstate 5 between Woodburn and Salem.

The interstate has ruts in vehicle wheel paths that put motorists at a risk of hydroplaning in rainy weather, transportation officials say.

Paving began northbound from Brooks to Woodburn.

Nightly lane closures are expected between Sunday evenings and Friday mornings. One lane can be closed between 7 p.m. and 9 a.m. A second lane can be shut down between 9 p.m. and 5 a.m., giving motorists delays of up to 30 minutes.

During the lane closures, motorists can still travel north and south.

Work on the $17 million project is expected to last through October.

Upcoming Salem-area projects

Most of the work is on the horizon, including in the Salem area.

For example, design work starts this year for a project that will widen Interstate 5 between Keubler Boulevard in south Salem and the Delaney Road interchange to relieve congestion on the southbound side.

Construction work is due to start in 2021 on the $35.4 million project and includes replacing a bridge over the Commercial Street northbound off-ramp and reconstruction of the southbound Commercial Street on-ramp and thee southbound Delaney Road ramps to get on and off the interstate.

In 2020, construction will start on a nearly $9 million project that adds sidewalks and bicycle lanes  on Oregon 214 in Silverton between Smith Street and Pioneer Drive.

Small-scale projects are in the pipeline too. Pedestrian safety improvements are planned at the intersection of Oregon 214 and Jefferson Street in Silverton.

The $750,000 project will have a pedestrian island, flashing beacon and lights. It’s expected to go out for a bid late this year, with construction in 2020.


Oregon’s transportation system faces long-term challenges not included in the 2017 legislation. More state bridges will need upgrades in the coming years. And rural roads continue to be a high-need area. (©2019 FOTOSEARCH)

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Canadian study identifies speed as best predictor of car crashes



Researchers said when crash cases were compared to the control cases using a sophisticated penalty system for four kinds of bad driving, speeding emerged as the key difference between them. (Courtesy: UNIVERSITY OF WATERLOO)

WATERLOO, Ontario, Canada — Speeding is the riskiest kind of aggressive driving, according to a unique analysis of data from on-board devices in vehicles.

Researchers at the University of Waterloo examined data from 28 million trips for possible links between four bad driving behaviors – speeding, hard braking, hard acceleration and hard cornering – and the likelihood of crashes.

Their analysis revealed speeding is a strong predictor of crashes, while statistically significant links for the other kinds of aggressive driving couldn’t be established.

“For insurance companies using this telematics data to assess who is a good risk and who isn’t, our suggestion based on the data is to look at speed, at people driving too fast,” said Stefan Steiner, a statistics professor in Waterloo’s faculty of mathematics.

Data for the study came from insurance companies in Ontario and Texas with clients who had on-board diagnostic devices installed in their vehicles.

In the first study of its kind, researchers initially analyzed the data to identify 28 crashes based on indicators such as rapid deceleration.

Each vehicle in those crashes was then matched with 20 control vehicles that had not been in crashes, but were similar in terms of other characteristics, including geographic location and driving distance.

Steiner said when the crash cases were compared to the control cases using a sophisticated penalty system for the four kinds of bad driving, speeding emerged as the key difference between them.

“Some of the results are no surprise, but prior to this we had a whole industry based on intuition,” said Allaa (Ella) Hilal, an adjunct professor of electrical and computer engineering. “Now it is formulated. We know aggressive driving has an impact.”

Steiner cautioned that the study was limited by several unknowns, such as different drivers using the same vehicle, and more research is needed to verify the results.

But he said the analysis of telematics data could eventually revolutionize the insurance industry by enabling fairer, personalized premiums based on actual driving behavior, not age, gender or location.

Hilal believes the data could also make roads safer by giving drivers both tangible evidence and financial incentives to change.

“Having this information exposed and understood allows people to wrap their minds around their true risks and improve their driving behaviors,” she said. “We are super pumped about its potential.”

Manda Winlaw, a former mathematics post-doctoral fellow, and statistics professor Jock MacKay also collaborated on the study, using telematics data to find risky driver behaviour, which appears in the journal Accident Analysis and Prevention.








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NATSO releases industry guide addressing top industry questions



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



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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