Tag Archives: DOT

More Obama "We Can't Wait" Chicanery – TIGER III




Have you ever heard of Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER)? Well, it’s into its third round of grants, hence TIGER III. As Part of the Obama Administration’s “We Can’t Wait” Initiative (a ruse he uses to bypass Congress), the Department of Transportation (DOT) announced the awarding of “Job-Creating Grants.” Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced that 46 transportation projects will receive a total of $511 million from DOT’s TIGER program. In the previous two rounds, the TIGER program awarded grants to 126 freight, highway, transit, port and bicycle/pedestrian projects in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. TIGER provides an opportunity for DOT to invest in road, rail, transit and port projects that promise to achieve critical national objectives.  [emphasis mine]  So let’s see just what DOT (and the Obama administration) view as “critical national objectives.”

There is the Chicago “Blue Line and Bikeshare” project that serves critical national objectives. TIGER funds will help complete an overall project to repair 3.6 miles of track on Chicago Transit Authority’s (CTA) Blue Line between Damen Avenue and Belmont Avenue, finishing all track improvements between Chicago’s Downtown Loop and O’Hare International Airport. The “point to point” bikeshare program will allow transit riders, locals, and visitors to take a bike from one location and return it to another at any of the other stations throughout the city, expanding the “first mile” and “last mile” of transit trips. In addition, the bikeshare program supports a sustainable, zero-energy transportation mode. (had to get that green energy plug in!) That one cost us taxpayers $16 million for CTA track repair and $4 million for more bicycles and pick-up/drop-off stations.

Another TIGER project awarded $20 million taxpayer dollars for improvements to I-70 that will “better connect” people in St. Louis with the parkland around the base of the St. Louis Gateway Arch. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, and Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) made the announcement in St. Louis. The money will build a pedestrian land bridge over I-70 connecting the Old Courthouse, Luther Ely Smith Square and the Gateway Arch grounds, providing improved vehicle and pedestrian traffic patterns while facilitating safer access for people. McCaskill opposes earmarks and recently co-sponsored a bill that would permanently ban these kinds of pork-barrel projects from the legislative process, but she favored this grant. Can anyone say “hypocrite?”

The Buffalo (NY) Mainstreet Revitalization program cost “only” $14 million. This project will help safely reintroduce vehicle traffic to Main Street in downtown Buffalo and improve transit stations along the corridor by:

  • Restoring two-way traffic on Main Street by allowing vehicles to share lanes with the light rail trains
  • Enhancing existing light rail stations with real time audio and visual transit information displays (you never know when a blind person that has a “critical national objective” may have to get around in Buffalo – sorry, I just couldn’t resist commenting)
  • Providing visibly distinct pedestrian crosswalks at all intersections, reconnects streets, and improves paving, landscaping, and street furnishings

It will also fund major streetscape improvements to revitalize and reorient economic growth downtown.

BTW, a complete list of TIGER III projects, including dollar amounts, can be found here. Thank God the DOT had only $527 million to spend on TIGER. Otherwise we would have been “critical national objectives” to death. But now we know what DOT means when it uses the phrase “critical national objectives.” I feel a lot safer now, and I’m sure you do as well.

But that’s just my opinion.

Access to other articles like this one can be found at RWNO, my personal web site.

Where is the Outrage – Mexican Trucks are coming to a State Near you

Where is the outrage? Mexican trucks are coming to the U.S. very soon – quite likely before the end of the month. Calls, and or letters/faxes need to be sent to your lawmakers – they need to hear from their constituents, this does not just affect certain states, but this will effect all of the United States. Why you ask?

U.S. truck-drivers and carriers must contend with ever-increasing safety, homeland security and environmental regulations that dramatically affect their costs of operations as well as their ability to make a living at their chosen profession,” said Todd Spencer, Executive Vice President of OOIDA. “Mexico does not have an even remotely equivalent regulatory regime for its trucking industry and should not be given de facto exemptions.”

In 1995 the U.S. and Mexico started a pilot program to allow Mexican trucks to travel throughout the US delivering loads brought in from Mexico. The US trucks were allowed to do the same in Mexico, but environmental issues, safety and security concerns spurred the United States to bar Mexican trucks from being on U.S. roadways.

There has been no indication from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) or the Department of Transportation (DOT) or from Mexico that any of these environmental issues or safety and security concerns have been addressed. 16 years later the environmental issues and safety and security concerns still exist, but Obama agreed to allow the Mexican trucks back into the US and at a price too. These Mexican trucks are to be fitted with Electronic on-board recorders (EOBR) that taxpayers in the U.S. are to pay for.

An electronic on-board recorder (EOBR) is an electronic device attached to a commercial motor vehicle, which is used to record the amount of time a vehicle is being driven.

The driving hours of commercial drivers – truck and bus drivers – are regulated by a set of rules known as the hours-of-service (HOS). The HOS are rules intended to prevent driver fatigue, by limiting the amount of time drivers spend operating commercial vehicles.

The prior pilot program only allowed 100 Mexican carriers to do business beyond the border zone in the United States. This time around the program has no set limit on the number of carriers or number of trucks to be allowed into the U.S. – provided they can pass an inspection of their trucks and the accreditation of their operators.

The new cross-border trucking plan will happen in three stages: The first stage will be the application and inspection of the Mexican trucks and the accreditation of their operators. The second stage starts with a three-month period of thorough inspections of the vehicles crossing the border, checks that will decrease starting the fourth month. The final stage involves the Mexican companies being notified of their permanent authorization, which can be granted after 18 months of successful operations. This authorization can only be revoked if a safety regulation is broken.

Here is a kicker, Mexico reserves the right to re-introduce its illegal tariffs if any parts of the agreement are violated by the United States. Strong arm tatics, and the U.S. does not have the guts to stand up to them.

The fact that a cross-border program is in any stage of development does not sit well with the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) leadership. “With all the talk about the need for every initiative to create jobs, it’s absolutely shocking,” said OOIDA Executive Vice President Todd Spencer. “The only jobs this ill-conceived idea can create are for non-citizens who will take jobs away from U.S. citizens.”

Coupled with the fact that the program would threaten U.S. trucking jobs, Spencer is equally concerned about the safety and security of truckers and U.S. highway users alike. “It’s a pipe dream that the safety and security issues can be resolved, given the general state of disarray or war that exists in Mexico,” he said.

So guess what needs to be done now? Yes, that’s right get on the phones and call your senators and representatives and demand them to kill this deal now. You can call the United States Capitol switchboard at (202) 224-3121 provide the operator with your home zip code and they will connect you directly with the Senate office you request.

If you as a U.S. truck-driver value your job or any concerned motorist on the highways – then you must contact your Senators and Representatives and explain to them why this is not a good idea. It is ironic that the DOT is always talking about how their number one priority is Safety – then they do this.

There are many different reasons why a trucking program with Mexico is a bad idea. The following are just a few things that public officials need to know:

  1. The burden should be on Mexico to raise the regulatory standards of their trucking industry, not on the U.S. to lower ours or find ways to accommodate their trucking companies and drivers.
  2. Every year, US truckers are burdened with new safety, security and environmental regulations. Those regulations come with considerable compliance costs. Mexico-domiciled trucking companies and drivers do not contend with a similar regulatory regime in their home country nor must they contend with the corresponding regulatory compliance costs that burden U.S. truckers.
  3. To date Mexico has failed to institute regulations and enforcement programs that are even remotely similar to those in the United States.
  4. To ensure the safety and security of U.S. citizens, Mexico-domiciled trucking companies and truck drivers must be required to comply with the same level of safety, security and environmental standards that already apply to U.S.-based companies and drivers, NOT ONLY WHILE OPERATING IN THE U.S. BUT ALSO IN THEIR HOME COUNTRY.
  5. Without a level playing field with Mexico, thousands of U.S. jobs will be lost if a cross-border trucking program is initiated at this time.

CALL NOW AND KEEP CALLING UNTIL LAWMAKERS REALIZE JUST HOW BAD AN IDEA THIS REALLY IS!

This article is cross-posted from Truck Drivers News