TAM Testimony – Act Relative to Truck Inspections

On May 14, Kevin Weeks, the executive director of the Trucking Association of Massachusetts, submitted written testimony in support of House Bill 3178, An Act Relative to Truck Inspections. The testimony is provided below, and a PDF is available for download.

For additional information, contact the Trucking Association of Massachusetts.

Honorable William Straus, House Chair
Honorable Joseph Boncore, Senate Chair
Joint Committee on Transportation
State House, Room 134
Boston, Massachusetts 02133

Dear Chairman Straus, Chairman Boncore and Members of the Committee:

On behalf of the over 250 trucking company members of the Trucking Association of Massachusetts (“TAM”), I am writing in strong support of House Bill 3178, An Act Relative to Truck Inspections.  This legislation will lead to increased public safety oversight of truck inspections without having an adverse effect on the shipping of goods throughout the Commonwealth.

As you may know, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (“FMCSA”) is required under 49 CFR 350.201(c) to work closely with one designated state agency to oversee the roadside inspection of commercial motor vehicles and commercial carrier facilities.  The roadside inspection program consists of roadside inspections performed by qualified safety inspectors following the guidelines of the North American Standard, which was developed by FMCSA and the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (“CVSA”), an association of state, provincial, and federal officials responsible for the administration and enforcement of motor carrier safety laws.  Accordingly, the Commonwealth designated the Massachusetts State Police (“MSP”) to work with the FMCSA. The MSP enforcement personnel are properly trained, certified and continually educated in commercial truck inspections and terminal reviews by FMCSA.

Under the current system, any municipality can ask the MSP to train their officers to conduct federally regulated roadside commercial carrier inspections. Once the MSP trains these municipal officers, however, it loses all ability to provide accountability and oversight in ensuring that inspections are actually conducted in compliance with federal regulations.  Put simply, municipal truck teams do not receive the extensive training the MSP Truck Team receives nor do they have the MSP’s commercial motor vehicle experience. Already in a number of municipalities, commercial motor vehicle operators have been improperly cited for alleged infractions that simply were not violations. (i.e. citation for having the wrong hazmat placard when, in fact, drivers have the correct ones; citation for existence of wet valves despite a requirement of federal regulations; etc.)

As a result, House Bill 3178 would formally establish a mechanism for the oversight and inspection of roadside commercial carrier inspections. In doing so, this legislation seeks to ensure that only appropriate and trained individuals conduct routine commercial carrier inspections.  Patterned after the model language created by the CVSA, this legislation gives the MSP specific authority to establish regulations and procedures for the certification of municipal police officers.

Specifically, this legislation requires the MSP to promulgate regulations relative to:

  • the delineation of roles and responsibilities within a local police department as it relates to coordinating efforts with the MSP;
  • the commercial motor safety data collection, management and distribution;
  • the fine and sanction structure for violations of commercial motor vehicle laws and regulations;
  • the collection and deposit of said fines;
  • the periodic review and submission of a commercial vehicle safety to ensure consistency with the statewide enforcement plan;

While the proposed legislation would provide that the MSP can decertify any municipal law enforcement official for violating the eventual regulations, the legislation expressly prohibits the MSP from unreasonably refusing to retrain any decertified official or department upon request.

It is important to note that this legislation does not mean that uncertified municipal law enforcement personnel will not be able to stop commercial motor vehicles.  By including the legal protections associated with “probable cause”, uncertified local law enforcement will still be able to stop trucks that present a danger to the local community.  Accordingly, an officer who has formed the basis for “probable cause” will not be prohibited from making a random stop and inspection.   No judicial officer will “throw out” a citation or stop on the basis that a local police officer stopped and cited a commercial motor vehicle because it leaked fuel; operated without working lights or potentially presented some other public safety hazard.

This legislation will do more than improve the enforcement of commercial motor vehicle.  It will create a cogent system of enforcement that recognizes a uniform cause – protecting the general public while recognizing the importance and necessity of commercial transportation.  As reported by the Federal Highway Administration, 87% of all manufactured goods in Massachusetts were transported by truck.  In 2013, the trucking industry in Massachusetts provided 120,340 jobs, or 4% of the state’s overall employment. Total trucking industry wages paid in Massachusetts in 2013 exceeded $6 billion, with an average annual trucking industry salary of $49,879.  A disjointed and inconsistent enforcement system will not only threaten the affect the Commonwealth’s residents’ ability to receive affordable and available goods, but it will affect the livelihood of the many individuals working in the trucking industry.

With this in mind, HB 3178 will create one unified mechanism for the oversight and accountability of roadside truck inspections.  The MSP Truck Team receives federal training and has extensive, specialized experience in the enforcement of the laws and regulations governing the operation of commercial motor vehicles.  The MSP is the law enforcement agency in the Commonwealth that has the appropriate training, experience and, most importantly, an ongoing relationship with federal transportation agencies necessary to coordinate roadside commercial vehicle inspections.  By coordinating its efforts with the MSP Truck Team, local municipalities will still be able to insure that commercial motor vehicles are operating in accordance with federal laws and regulations.  HB 3178, modeled after draft legislation from national and international experts in commercial carrier enforcement, is a sensible and responsible step in the Commonwealth’s best interests.

I appreciate your consideration of this important matter and respectfully request that the Committee release HB 3178 with a favorable report.  If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Sincerely,

Kevin Weeks
Executive Director

Support Testimony: Act Relative to Carriers of Property by Motor Vehicle

On May 14, Kevin Weeks, the executive director of the Trucking Association of Massachusetts, submitted written testimony in support of House Bill 3145, An Act Relative to Carriers of Property by Motor Vehicle. The testimony is provided below, and a PDF is available for download.

For additional information, contact the Trucking Association of Massachusetts.

Honorable William Straus, House Chair
Honorable Joseph Boncore, Senate Chair
Joint Committee on Transportation
State House, Room 134
Boston, Massachusetts 02133

Dear Chairman Straus, Chairman Boncore and Members of the Committee:

On behalf of the over 250 trucking company members of the Massachusetts Motor Transportation Association (“MMTA”), I am writing in strong support of Senate Bill 2031 / House Bill 3145, An Act Relative to Carriers of Property by Motor Vehicle. This bill seeks to allow for a single permit to be issued to an entire fleet of delivery vehicles for the transportation of alcohol.  This measure will reduce the cost of doing business within the Commonwealth, leading to reduced costs for consumers without sacrificing the licensing protections offered by this permitting process.

As you know, Mass. Gen. Laws Ch. 138, §22 regulates the transportation of alcoholic beverages. Specifically, this section requires that every truck have an individual permit for the transportation of alcohol if it operates within the Commonwealth. This requirement creates significant administrative burdens and increased costs for doing business within the Commonwealth.  In turn, the current process creates a barrier to competition in the Commonwealth, and increased costs for consumers.  Accordingly, Senate Bill 2031 / House Bill 3145 will alleviate these problems by allowing fleet owners to purchase a “fleet permit” for use by their entire fleet. The legislation still requires that every vehicle carry a certified copy of the permit.

Under the current system, trucking companies must choose between three undesirable and costly options. First, a trucking company may choose to purchase permits for every truck in its fleet, recognizing that it is not realistically predictable as to which of its vehicles will be transporting alcohol at any given time.  This option, which can be quite costly given the size of one’s fleet, requires extra administrative costs to ensure every truck has a certified copy of the permit and to ensure that every permit in every truck is the correct permit for that truck.[1]

Alternatively, a truck company fleet may choose to only permit a select few of their vehicles, requiring the company to ensure that shipments of alcohol are only handled by those MMTA –permitted vehicles.[2]

Finally, some trucking companies choose to simply not ship alcohol and forgo acquiring a permit altogether, limiting business opportunities to those companies that can afford the permitting costs. In every option, consumers suffer from the effects of increased shipping costs or reduced competition.

To address this situation, Senate Bill 2031 / House Bill 3145will allow for the issuance of a single fleet permit that maintains accountability and transparency in the shipment of alcohol.   In doing so, the legislation will reduce the cost of shipping alcohol in the Commonwealth while allowing more businesses to be able to engage in the delivery of alcohol. The increased competition between transportation businesses will further lead to lower shipping costs for retailers and consumers. In no case does this legislation reduce public safety or accountability.  In addition to the numerous existing laws governing the heavily regulated trucking industry, law enforcement and the state’s alcohol control officers will still be able to see the “fleet permit” and hold transporters of alcohol accountable for compliance with the appropriate laws and regulations.  Simply put, this legislation will benefit trucking companies and residents and businesses within the Commonwealth – without undermining the purpose served by these permits.

I appreciate your consideration of this important matter and respectfully request that the committee release Senate Bill 2031 / House Bill 3145 with a favorable report.  If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact me.

Sincerely,

Kevin Weeks
Executive Director

[1] Consider the following example: An international shipping company, with the reasonable anticipation that of any of its trucks, at one point or another, may carry a load of alcohol into the Commonwealth, must permit slightly over 2,000 trucks.  In permitting each truck, the company will spend over $100,000 in permit fees.

[2] Under this scenario, reduced efficiency actually leads to higher costs as, logistically, the trucks must then be prioritized for alcohol shipments, whereby they are considered less efficient due to an inability to release said trucks for other shipments at any time.

TAM Position – Massport’s Infrastructure for Rebuilding America grant application

On March 14, Kevin Weeks, the executive director of the Trucking Association of Massachusetts, wrote in support of Massachusetts Port Authority’s Infrastructure for Rebuilding America grant application for the Conley Terminal Container Storage and Freight Corridor project in the Port of Boston. The letter is provided below, and a PDF is available for download.

For additional information, contact the Trucking Association of Massachusetts.

The Honorable Elaine L. Chao, Secretary
United States Department of Transportation
1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
Washington, DC 20590

Dear Secretary Chao:

On behalf of the over 250 trucking companies of the Trucking Association of Massachusetts (“TAM”) and the thousands of trucking company employees who transport goods throughout the Commonwealth, I am writing in strong support of the Massachusetts Port Authority’s (“Massport’s”) Infrastructure for Rebuilding America (“INFRA”) grant application for the Conley Terminal Container Storage and Freight Corridor project in the Port of Boston. This project will further improve one of New England’s most important economic assets, the Conley Terminal, and the last mile connections that link to it.

As you know, TAM has been the voice of the trucking industry in Massachusetts since 1919. One of the oldest transportation associations within the Commonwealth, 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 87%-93% 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., (May 2018)).

The working Port of Boston is home to 7,000 jobs and generates $4.6 billion of annual economic impact.  A significant part of that economic value comes from Conley Terminal and the region’s 1,600 businesses, including 260 rural businesses, who use the facility to import and export their goods.  However, after four consecutive years of record volume growth, including a 10% increase in 2018, the Conley Container Terminal is facing mounting container storage capacity constraints.  As a result, Massport has taken the initiative to work towards the rehabilitation of a vacant terminal area to increase the terminal’s container storage capacity by almost 30% while adding innovative technologies to improve safety and customer experience. The project will further strengthen the Conley Terminal’s role as a central entry-point for goods to the New England region.

From a public safety and efficiency perspective, it should be noted that Massport’s application also includes the construction of the Cypher-E Freight Corridor to improve inland container movements and regional distribution while increasing roadway safety.  This commitment to improve last-mile connections will separate trucks from mixed-use traffic in a key corridor for pedestrian, bicycle and passenger vehicle traffic. This is vitally important for the trucking industry and local, residential community.

I appreciate your consideration of this important matter and respectfully request your support for this important grant application.  If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to let me know.

Sincerely,

Kevin Weeks
Executive Director

TAM Position – In support of Concept C-2, I-495 / I-90 Interchange Improvements Project

On Oct. 22, Anne Lynch, the executive director of the Trucking Association of Massachusetts, wrote in support of of Concept C-2, as drafted, for the I-495 / I-90 Interchange Improvements Project. The letter is provided below, and a PDF is available for download.

For additional information, contact the Trucking Association of Massachusetts.

Mr. Jonathan Gulliver, Administrator
Massachusetts Department of Transportation / Highway Division
10 Park Plaza; Suite 4160
Boston, Massachusetts 02116

Dear Administrator Gulliver:

On behalf of the approximately 300 member companies of the Trucking Association of Massachusetts (“TAM”), I am writing in strong support of Concept C-2, as drafted, for the I-495 / I-90 Interchange Improvements Project (MassDOT #607977).  This proposed construction plan appears to best combine the public safety, environmental and mobility needs of the trucking community.

As you know, TAM has been the voice of the trucking industry in Massachusetts since 1919. One of the oldest transportation associations within the Commonwealth, 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 87%-93% 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., (May 2018)).

In Massachusetts, we are a state that not only has national and regional carriers, we have a significant number of businesses, many within the TAM, who rely on their own trucking fleets to meet their operational needs.  As a result, the importance of providing safe, congestion-free connectivity for trucking between major points of import/export terminals and the interstate highway system cannot be overstated.  TAM applauds MassDOT for tackling the I-495/I-90 Interchange Improvements Project to “improve safety and operational efficiency at the system interchange of these two nationally and regionally significant interstate highways”. (“Briefing for Stakeholder / Public Information”, MassDOT (October 2018)).  This interchange is central to the flow of commodities and goods through and into the Commonwealth from every direction.

As drafted, Concept C-2 appears to take the best parts of MassDOT’s various concepts and proposals.  Not only does the proposal appear to have the lowest user cost ($160M) due to delays during the project, but it will lead to a 69% reduction in user costs for freight-heavy trucks.  As importantly, the cost of Concept C-2 appears to be less expensive than the other proposals and leads to the greatest reduction in life-cycle costs

($25M).  Operationally, TAM appreciates the fact that proposed Concept C-2 omits left hand entrance ramps and reduces the occasions where traffic must “weave” onto or across a major roadway – thereby reducing the potential for accidents, congestion or environmental impacts.  In short, Concept C-2 combines the public safety, environmental and mobility objectives that the trucking industry requires for continuing to do its job carrying goods throughout the Commonwealth.

TAM appreciates the careful consideration and work undertaken by MassDOT to address and balance the needs associated with improving Interchange 495 / Interchange 90.  Concept C-2 will provide a simple, meaningful way to improve this vital intersection with the most benefit for the Commonwealth’s businesses and residents.  If MassDOT seeks further input from TAM, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Sincerely,

Anne Lynch
Executive Director

TAM Position – South Boston Truck Bypass Road Pilot Proposal

On Sept. 10, Anne Lynch, the executive director of the Trucking Association of Massachusetts, wrote to oppose the Massachusetts Department of Transportation’s South Boston Truck Bypass Road Pilot Proposal that will open the so-called “haul road” to non-commercial traffic. The letter is provided below, and a PDF is available for download.

For additional information, contact the Trucking Association of Massachusetts.

Mr. Matthew Beaton, Secretary
Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs
ATTN: MEPA Office (Ms. Deirdre Buckley, Director)
100 Cambridge Street, Suite 900
Boston, Massachusetts 02114

RE: Massachusetts Department of Transportation South Boston Truck Bypass Road Pilot Proposal / EEA: #4325

Dear Secretary Beaton:

On behalf of the Trucking Association of Massachusetts (“TAM”), I am writing to oppose the Massachusetts Department of Transportation’s (“MassDOT’s”) South Boston Truck Bypass Road Pilot Proposal that will open the so-called “haul road” to non-commercial traffic.  This initiative will likely lead to more congestion, increase the potential for air pollution, and decrease public safety.

As you know, TAM has been the voice of the trucking industry in Massachusetts since 1919. One of the oldest transportation associations within the Commonwealth, 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 87%-93% of all goods and products found in our homes and workplaces.  In addition to being a significant user of our roads and bridges, the trucking industry is a significant creator of jobs within the Commonwealth.  In fact, 1 in 29 jobs within the Commonwealth is associated with the motor carrier industry. In Massachusetts, we are a state that not only has national and regional carriers, we have a significant number of businesses, many within the TAM, who rely on their own trucking fleets to meet their operational needs.

The importance of providing congestion-free connectivity for trucking between major points of import/export terminals and the interstate highway system cannot be overstated.  The South Boston Truck Bypass Road links the Conley Marine Terminal with access to interstate highways that ensure trucking stays off the smaller, local roads of South Boston.  The current configuration reduces congestion and pollution (i.e. no idle times as a result of congestion) and increases public safety (i.e. limits access to professional drivers only). Under the proposed “pilot program”, MassDOT proposes opening this roadway for use by all non-commercial traffic as well as, potentially, the biking community.  Unfortunately, this will ultimately defeat the reason for which the bypass road was created in the first place.

With the introduction of the proposed pilot program, the Commonwealth will likely increase congestion while working against the emissions and safety goals it has worked with industry to achieve.  By allowing non-commercial traffic unto the South Boston Bypass Road, there is a greater likelihood of increasing congestion which, although the trucking industry has greatly reduced its own carbon footprint, will increase the potential for increased air pollution in the South Boston neighborhood.  Further, as identified by numerous elected officials from the City of Boston, introducing non-commercial traffic on to the South Boston Bypass Route presents significant public safety concerns.  The various clearances, sight lines and turning radius for trucks leads will be compromised by this pilot program.

As a final note, there was discussion at a recent public meeting relative to this matter about the potential for not only allowing bicyclists to use the South Boston Bypass Road, but installing a bike hub for the rental of bikes to any individual, regardless of bike riding experience or ability.  Ironically, truck drivers using this road must possess a Transportation Worker Identification Credential (“TWIC”), a heightened homeland security measure, but a bike rider must simply possess credit card to rent a bike.  Notwithstanding this apparently contradictory fact, TAM has been consistent in its position that the best way to protect both bicyclists and truckers is to provide separated, significant infrastructure that prevents the intermingling of both users.  According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (“NHTSA”), the key for ensuring healthy bike and truck safety involves “engineering, education and enforcement”. One cannot construct a road for a specific purpose and then expect to change the road’s purpose without significant, additional “engineering, education and enforcement”.  Even if MassDOT could afford both the financial and personnel resources to accomplish this, allowing individuals to bike this road or, worse, rent a bike to use on this dedicated roadway, is a recipe for tragedy.

On behalf of the numerous trucking companies that rely on the South Boston Bypass Road each day, I respectfully request that you do not approve of the introduction of “non-commercial” traffic on this important roadway.  If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to let me know.

Sincerely,

Anne M. Lynch
Executive Director