Tristate Truck Driving Championships

Sweeney earns Massachusetts TDC Grand Champion award

Rich Sweeney, representing XPO, earned the 2024 Massachusetts Grand Champion title at the Tri-State Truck Driving Championship on June 8 in Windsor Locks, Connecticut. Sweeney competed in the 5-Axle Tractor Tank Trailer class.

Congratulations to all the winners, including Jeremy Mastello, our Massachusetts Rookie of the Year.

Class Winners

  • Scott Barton, FedEx Freight, Twin Trailers
  • Christopher Buswell, FedEx Freight, Straight Truck
  • Rafael Jusfredo, FedEx, Step Van
  • Sean Medeiros, FedEx Freight, 3 Axle Tractor Trailer
  • Richard Sweeney, XPO, 5 Axle Tractor Tank Trailer

A special shout-out to all the volunteers and sponsors, especially Craig Moran from MobileMe Transportation, for all his support.

See you all next year!

Mass TDC 2024 photos

legislation testimony

TAM Testimony – In support of Act Relative to Strengthening Massachusetts Economic Leadership

The following testimony was sent to the Joint Committee on Economic Development and Emerging Technologies. Our testimony supports House Bill 4459, an act to relative to strengthening Massachusetts economic leadership, which will support many industries throughout the Commonwealth.

The testimony supporting House Bill 4459, An Act Relative to Strengthening Massachusetts Economic Leadership, is also available as a PDF download.


Dear Chair Finegold, Chair Parisella and Members of the Committee:

On behalf of the over 250 member companies of the Transportation Association of Massachusetts (TAM), I am writing in strong support of House Bill 4459, An Act Relative to Strengthening Massachusetts Economic Leadership. The passage of this legislation – which will support so many industries throughout the Commonwealth – is essential. With that in mind, the trucking industry is also a vital link for supporting these same industries throughout the Commonwealth. To that end, I respectfully request that you include the rolling stock initiative, which will lead to additional tax revenue, greater public safety, a cleaner environment while creating numerous jobs with competitive salaries, to this legislation.

As you may know, TAM has been the voice of the trucking industry in Massachusetts since 1919. One of the oldest transportation associations in the United States, we represent a wide variety of companies ranging from small, family-owned trucking companies with a single truck to large national trucking companies with thousands of trucks. The trucking industry within the Commonwealth is responsible for transporting over 90% of all goods and products found in our homes and workplaces. In addition to being a key facilitator for the growth of other industries, the trucking industry is a significant creator of jobs within the Commonwealth. As a recent study by the Dukakis Center for Urban Research & Policy at Northeastern University stated, “[t]he overall trucking industry (including private and for-hire tucking) represent about one in 12 jobs or about 300,000 jobs in Massachusetts in 2017. And, trucking companies meet all Massachusetts freight movement needs.” (“The Importance of the Trucking Industry to the Massachusetts Economy”, Pritchard, R. & Scott, A., p.3 (May 2018)). In terms of employment demographics, the trucking industry is quickly diversifying as companies seek drivers to meet the growing need for trucking. (“Truck Driver Shortage Analysis 2019”, Costello & Karickhoff, American Trucking Associations, July 2019)(“ In 2018, 40.4% of [truck] drivers were minorities, which has jumped 13.8 percentage points from 26.6% in 2001.).

The rolling stock initiative, which has been passed by the Massachusetts House of Representatives as part of other economic development proposals in the past three sessions, is important to maintaining the trucking industry’s presence in the Commonwealth. Notwithstanding the significant impact of the COVID pandemic, rising fuel costs and a depleted workforce, the commercial trucking industry within the Commonwealth has been experiencing a decline as many trucking companies have moved to other states or simply closed down. Part of the reason that trucking companies have left the state is due to the Commonwealth’s tax policies. In particular, the Massachusetts Department of Revenue (DOR) collects sales and use tax for rolling stock purchased in other states which have an exemption in place for rolling stock. (i.e. tractors and trailers used in interstate commerce). As a result, any company with a nexus within the Commonwealth is being charged sales and use tax by the DOR even though the rolling stock was purchased in other states. Accordingly, various truck companies, who may be domiciled in Massachusetts or have repair facilities in Massachusetts, are now seeking to locate them outside of the state to reduce the nexus necessary to collect such tax.

Exempting the sale and use of rolling stock from taxation will bring Massachusetts in line with a majority of other states (37) within which an exemption from sales and use tax for rolling stock already exists. In fact, every surrounding New England state, except Vermont which applies a de minimus fee, has a rolling stock exemption in place. That said, amending Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 64H (i.e. sales tax) and Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 64I (i.e. use tax) to specifically exempt rolling stock from the sales and use tax brings much more than simple tax relief to the trucking industry. According to the aforementioned study conducted by the Dukakis Center for Urban Research & Policy, the elimination of the sales and use tax on rolling stock will, following national trends, create “2,768 more employees and 2,076 more power units … operating and generating an additional $15.9 million in tax revenue per year; while not estimable, … the impact on private fleets may be just as large.” (“The Importance of the Trucking Industry to the Massachusetts Economy”, Pritchard, R. & Scott, A., p.14 (May 2018)).

The need for eliminating the taxation of rolling stock cannot be overstated. First, this initiative will create a more attractive environment for trucking companies to remain in the Commonwealth. Trucking companies rely on constantly maintaining and upgrading their equipment. This means purchasing new rolling stock on a regular basis. If trucking companies know that their out-of-state purchases will incur an in-state tax, the companies will work to continue to reduce their nexus to the taxing state. As it stands, Massachusetts trucking companies are already at a competitive disadvantage when competing against carriers located in the neighboring states.

Second, but just as important, this initiative will have a significant positive impact on public safety and the environment. Exempting the sale and use of rolling stock from taxation will encourage the purchase of new equipment with the latest technology available as well incentivize companies to operate their newer trucks in the Commonwealth. This directly increases public safety and creates additional environmental benefits. In terms of public safety, new trucks include lane-departure, crash collision and speed regulator technology that significantly improve road safety. In terms of environmental benefits, newer trucks have more efficient engines and exhaust systems. This leads to greater fuel efficiency and reduces emissions of NOx and particulate matter to further support the Commonwealth’s fuel efficiency and clean air efforts. Given the Commonwealth’s recent interest in reducing emissions from the transportation sector, the rolling stock initiative makes even more sense.

Third, by keeping trucking companies in the Commonwealth, the good jobs and competitive salaries that these companies offer will remain within the state. According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, Massachusetts is in the top ten for annual mean wage for heavy and tractor-trailer drivers within the country. (See http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes533032.htm). If more trucking companies find Massachusetts tax policy less favorable than neighboring states, it is likely the decrease in Massachusetts trucking companies will become even more significant.

Fourth, if the Commonwealth discourages trucking companies from domiciling in the state, transportation expenses will rise — further impacting the high cost of living already experienced in the Commonwealth. The costs associated with transporting goods are fairly straightforward. (See https://truckingresearch.org/2022/08/10/an-analysis-of-the-operational-costs-of-trucking-2022-update/) (“Total marginal cost of trucking grew by 12.7 percent in 2021 to $1.855 per mile, the highest on record. Leading contributors to this increase were fuel (35.4% higher than in 2020), repair and maintenance (18.2% higher than in 2020), and driver wages (10.8% higher than in 2020”). If the Commonwealth’s tax policies continue to cause trucking companies to domicile elsewhere, the additional fuel, tolls and vehicle maintenance, among other costs, will be borne by Massachusetts residents and businesses that already rely on the industry for over 90% of their goods. If the COVID-19 pandemic demonstrated one thing about the trucking industry, it is that it remains essential to residents and businesses alike.

This initiative is a matter of common sense. Given that neighboring states such as New York, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Hampshire and Vermont (partial) exempt rolling stock from sales and use tax, Massachusetts’ current tax policy is causing higher costs for Massachusetts residents and businesses while driving economic opportunity to neighboring states. This initiative, which has been passed by the Massachusetts House of Representatives during the past three sessions, will not exclude trucking companies from the myriad of other taxes and fees the industry pays to the Commonwealth each year. This initiative simply tries to keep Massachusetts on par with the vast majority of states (37) with an exemption already in place.

On behalf of the thousands of men and women in Massachusetts who rely on the good jobs and competitive salaries these Massachusetts companies provide, I encourage you to quickly pass House Bill 4459. In doing so, I respectfully request that you include language to create an exemption from the Massachusetts sales and use tax as applied to rolling stock for trucks. This measure will produce additional tax revenue in the future while strengthening the trucking industry in Massachusetts in a manner that also improves the environment and public safety.

For your review, I have attached a variety of information about this initiative for your review. If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to let me know. I appreciate your consideration of this important matter.

Sincerely,

Kevin Weeks
Executive Director

legislation testimony

TAM Testimony – In support of An Act Relative to Carriers of Property by Motor Vehicle

The following testimony was sent to the State Senate Committee on Ways and Means. Our testimony supports Senate Bill 2209, which addresses a practical problem for larger motor carriers who may choose to ship alcohol within Massachusetts.

The testimony supporting Senate Bill 2209, An Act Relative to Carriers of Property by Motor Vehicle, is also available as a PDF download.


Dear Chair Rodrigues:

On behalf of the Trucking Association of Massachusetts (TAM), I am writing in strong support for Senate Bill 2209, An Act Relative to Carriers of Property by Motor Vehicle. This legislation, which addresses a practical problem for larger motor carriers who may choose to ship alcohol within the state, will ultimately reduce administrative costs for the Commonwealth.

As you may know, a variety of Massachusetts laws govern the shipment of alcohol from a manufacturer directly to the consumer. Under the licensing construct created under the applicable laws, each motor vehicle transporting an alcohol product must have a license from the Commonwealth. Under Senate Bill 2209, a motor carrier would be able to obtain a fleet permit to transport or deliver the products sold at retail by licensees under Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 138, §§19B, 19C, or 19F to the ultimate consumers of such products. In addition, any motor carrier so licensed would be required to ensure that parcels transported or delivered are clearly labeled with words that indicate that the package contains alcohol. The signature of a person, age 21 years or older, and proof of valid identification confirming the same will also be required for delivery. Finally, the motor carrier with a fleet license must have documentation reflecting all of these and other requirements are met.

With razor thin margins associated with the delivery of goods, trucking is at its core logistics. Unfortunately, for trucking companies with large fleets today, this means that each tractor and trailer must be able to be used for a wide variety of purposes. Whether transporting lumber, furniture, food or alcohol, a trucking company must be able to redirect its fleet to reflect market conditions and delivery needs at a moment’s notice. The Commonwealth’s licensure system – requiring each and every truck that might possibly haul alcohol be licensed – creates a disincentive for motor carriers to enter the Massachusetts market. As a result, Massachusetts consumers pay higher costs associated with a lack of competition.

Senate Bill 2209 will allow for the more practical issuance of a fleet license that covers a motor carrier’s entire fleet of vehicles. In doing so, Massachusetts will become a more attractive environment for trucking companies to transport alcohol. This legislation will not sacrifice public safety in any manner as all the same rules will still apply. All the safeguards that apply to ensuring that alcohol is only delivered to individuals 21 and older will remain in place. What this legislation will do is increase competition which will ultimately benefit consumers. As well, by issuing fleet licenses, the Commonwealth will be able to reduce licensing costs and associated resources, which may then be put towards enforcement efforts, thereby further safeguarding the general public.

I appreciate your consideration of this important matter and respectfully request that you release this legislation for its full consideration by the Senate. If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to let me know.

Sincerely,

Kevin Weeks
Executive Director

sumner tunnel truck strike over height

New Sumner Tunnel warnings due to “over-height” strikes

sumner tunnel truck strike over heightThere has been a sharp increase in strikes this year because of over-height issues. Here is a look at the past few years:

  • 2022: 31 for the year (Eight between Jan 1 and April 30)
  • 2023: 32 for the year (Six between Jan. 1 and April 30)
  • 2024: 21 so far between Jan. 1 and April 25

With the uptick of reported over-heights in the Sumner Tunnel, the following measures are being taken and/or are underway by the District:

District 6 of the Massachusetts Department of Transportation has mobilized two variable message signs (VMS) on Rte. 1A SB just before Curtis Street. The two boards provide the following messages.

  • TRUCKER NOTICE
  • USE 90W TO 93 N & S

A project is also underway to use GPS and wireless digital communication platforms to deliver specific messages directly to the trucks’ cabs regarding height restrictions as they enter the driving routes.

Note that trucks are not obligated to divert to the Ted Williams Tunnel.

Kevin Holmes ATG

ATG’s Kevin Holmes named a Business Leader of the Year

Kevin Holmes ATGAdvantage Truck Group was founded in 1984 in a two-pumper service station with $12,000, Kevin Holmes’s life savings. He was undercapitalized, but he jumped in anyway.

“Nine thousand dollars went into gas in the ground and the rest into rent,” Holmes said.

ATG is now New England’s biggest Daimler Trucks North America dealer and the company opened its eighth regional location in 2021. The expansion came after it merged its sales and service provider Tri-State Truck Center with McDevitt Truck in New Hampshire in 2018.

The Worcester Business Journal named Kevin one of 2024’s Business Leaders of the Year, representing central Massachusetts.

 

snow traffic jam

Massachusetts makes ATRI’s list of Top 100 Truck Bottlenecks

The American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) has released its 13th annual list highlighting the most congested bottlenecks for trucks in America.

The 2024 Top Truck Bottleneck List measures the level of truck-involved congestion at over 325 locations on the national highway system. Based on extensive freight truck GPS data, the analysis uses several customized software applications and analysis methods, along with terabytes of data from trucking operations, to produce a congestion impact ranking for each location.

Massachusetts

Rank #51
Boston, MA: I-93 at SR 3

Rank #71
Boston, MA: I-95 at I-90

Rank #94
Boston, MA: I-95 at I-93 (North)

Click here to read the full report on the ATRI website.

truck route detour signs

Overweight Truck Detours – I-90 between Westfield & Lee

Updated on Jan. 9, 2024

Updated weight restrictions beginning Jan. 10

Based on feedback and information from the trucking community and impacts to the communities affected by the detour, MassDOT performed additional analysis to determine if weight restrictions could be modified on the Montgomery-Russell Bridge to allow heavier loads to travel along I-90 and not use the detour.

The analysis concluded that the weight restrictions could be modified to some extent. The modified weight restrictions are based upon a thorough assessment by the MassDOT Highway Division’s Structural Section, as well as changes made to the operations, equipment staging, etc., by the contractor.

If unforeseen issues arise during construction, weight restrictions may change, and the bridge may be posted with new restrictions for safety purposes.

The Montgomery – Russell Bridge along I-90 is currently under construction through 2025. The bridge is located at approximately mile marker 36 and spans US Route 20, CSX Railroad, and the Westfield River.

Due to the necessary repair work, construction staging, construction equipment loads, and travel lane shifts, it is necessary to limit the loads over the bridge and implement an overweight truck detour beginning December 4 and lasting through 2025.

This weight restriction and detour will not impact private passenger vehicles and most other traffic. Based on analysis of special permits and tolling data, MassDOT anticipates this detour will impact approximately 10 to 15 trucks daily.

What trucks are affected?

Loads over the below limits will be detoured off I-90 and onto Routes 10, 202, and 20. The detour will be in effect for two years and adds six miles to a trip. Overweight trucks will not be permitted to utilize the detour route during peak hours of 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Advance truck detour signs will be posted on I-90, and detour signs will be posted along the detour route.

Trucks with the following maximum weight limits are permitted to travel across the bridge as of Jan. 10:

  • 20 Tons (single unit two-axle, H20)
  • 45 Tons (single unit three+ axles, Type 3)
  • 50 Tons (truck trailer combo, Type 3S2)
  • 55 Tons* (truck trailer-trailer combo, Type 3-3)

Tandem trucks over the 55-ton limit must break down before entering Massachusetts (traveling eastbound on I-90) or in Chicopee (traveling westbound on I-90) at Exit 51.

MassDOT has a PDF showing eastbound and westbound truck detour routes and additional details concerning the detour.

trucks with TAM logo

Resources are available for safe truck parking in Massachusetts

The American Trucking Association, in cooperation with the National Tank Truck Carriers, Truckload Carriers Association and the Trucking Association of Massachusetts (TAM), wrote to Massachusetts Governor Maura Healey referencing the federal Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Act. The act provides significant resources to state and local governments to address truck parking capacity.

The letter encourages the governor to use these resources, as well as other non-federal resources, to prioritize and address this serious safety problem.

Below is the text of the letter to the governor.


Dear Governor Healey,

The American Trucking Associations, our state partners and other affiliated organizations represent the interests of trucking companies and their employees. This includes 3.5 million truck drivers who are the unsung heroes of our supply chain, each year driving over 320 billion miles to deliver roughly 12 billion tons of freight. Every one of those miles represents a stocked store shelf, a package placed on a household doorstep, materials delivered to a manufacturer, and equipment conveyed to a construction site. These professional men and women deliver the goods we rely on safely, securely, and on time while serving as role models in their communities. Too often, however, drivers are unable to find a safe place to rest after a long day on the road due to a severe shortage of truck parking. We are asking for your assistance with this longstanding and growing safety problem.

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT), 98 percent of truck drivers regularly experience difficulty finding safe parking—a sharp uptick from the 75 percent figure reported just four years earlier. USDOT also found that the truck parking shortage exists in every state and region. Year after year, truck drivers have indicated that the parking shortage is one of the top three challenges they face, rising to number one in 2022. With the volume of freight moved by trucks expected to increase by more than 21% over the next decade, this problem is only going to get worse.

The lack of available truck parking has dire safety implications for both truck drivers and the motoring public. When drivers are unable to find safe, authorized parking, they are stuck in an untenable situation, forced to either park in unsafe or illegal locations, or violate federal hours-of-service regulations by continuing to search for safer, legal alternatives. As a last resort, drivers reluctantly park in unsafe locations—such as highway shoulders, interstate entrance and exit ramps, and abandoned properties—creating heightened safety risks for themselves and other motorists. The hazards of the parking shortage were sadly brought to the nation’s attention in July, when three passengers were killed and many others seriously injured after a Greyhound bus hit three tractor-semitrailers parked on the shoulder of a rest area’s exit ramp on I-70 in Illinois. The drivers were forced to park on the shoulder when the rest area filled up.

Drivers do not park in these locations by choice. One survey found that 84% of drivers feel unsafe when parked in unauthorized areas, and this is especially true for female truck drivers. Law enforcement officers also face a difficult decision: either force truck drivers to relocate, placing them in violation of HOS rules and taking a risk that the drivers may be too fatigued to drive safely, or allow the drivers to remain parked illegally. The bottom line is that safety is compromised when truck parking is not readily available.

Fortunately, with the passage of the Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Act (Public Law 117-58), significant resources are now available to state and local governments to address this critical challenge. Construction of new truck parking capacity at rest areas or adjacent to private facilities is eligible for funding, as are improvements that allow for increased parking capacity at nontraditional locations, such as weigh stations and commuter lots, when appropriate. According to a memorandum issued by the U.S. Department of Transportation on September 20, 2022, these resources are available under several federal-aid highway programs, including:

  • National Highway Performance Program;
  • Surface Transportation Block Grant Program;
  • Highway Safety Improvement Program;
  • Carbon Reduction Program; and
  • National Highway Freight Program.

Additionally, transportation agencies can apply to USDOT for grants under a number of discretionary programs, including:

  • Nationally Significant Multimodal Freight & Highway Projects Program (AKA INFRA);
  • National Infrastructure Project Assistance (Mega) Program;
  • Local and Regional Project Assistance Program (AKA RAISE); and
  • Rural Surface Transportation Grant Program.

Several federal formula and discretionary programs are available for funding additional improvements, such as electrification, resiliency and technology solutions.

Some states have already utilized these resources to increase parking capacity or improve the operational efficiency of existing facilities. This includes at least half a dozen projects funded by federal grants and several more paid for through states’ federal-aid highway formula dollars.

Beyond these familiar DOT funding streams, the Department of the Treasury recently confirmed the eligibility of COVD-19 funds awarded to states and local agencies for infrastructure projects. In this notice, Treasury clarified that state and local government agencies that have unspent money from their Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds (SLFRF) can use a portion of those resources for investment in infrastructure, which could include truck parking facilities.

Truck drivers are the backbone of our society and our economy. Without them, the daily conveniences we take for granted—from fresh water to fuel to the literal roofs over our heads—would not exist. We urge you to examine the availability of truck parking within your State and take such actions as are necessary to ensure that truck drivers have a safe place to sleep when they are out on the road delivering more than 70% of America’s freight. We hope you will use the aforementioned resources, as well as other non-Federal resources, to prioritize and address this serious safety problem. If you would like to discuss this issue further, please contact us directly.

Sincerely,

Chris Spear
American Trucking Associations

Kevin Weeks
Trucking Association of Massachusetts

Ryan Streblow
National Tank Truck Carriers

Jim Ward
Truckload Carriers Association

Andrew Boyle

Andrew Boyle elected ATA’s 79th chairman

Andrew BoyleWe are pleased to announce TAM’s own Andrew Boyle of Boyle Transportation has been elected as Chairman of the American Trucking Associations.

“It is a tremendous privilege to be chosen by my peers in the trucking industry to be ATA chairman,” Boyle said. “Being selected to serve the millions of hardworking men and women who make up this great industry is an incredible honor, and I’m excited to take on this challenge.”

Congratulations!

Read the full post at the Transport Topics website.

TAM golf annual event

Biggest golf event ever!

TAM golf annual eventThanks to everyone who participated in this year’s Golf Event, our biggest field ever, despite the lack of sunshine. While it was a little damp, we still had a great time and, just as importantly, raised over $3,200 for our scholarship fund.

Congratulations to the team from QPWB (David Willis, Kevin Faber, Don Zambrano and Mike Hagerty) with a winning score of 14 under. Congrats to the foursome from Rich’s Transportation (Daniel Sullivan, Tim Watson, John Sullivan and Jason Cook) with a 2nd place score of 10 under.

Kate Broga (Boyle Transportation), Joe Lawless (FedEx), Jane Carole Bunting (Daycos) and Tim Watson (Rich’s Transportation) picked up individual prizes as well.

See you next year!