The Conference Board said on April 30 that its monthly Consumer Confidence Index rebounded in April to 68.1 after dropping to 61.9 in March. The index is based on a 1985 reading of 100. Despite the improved reading, it was too soon to tell “if confidence is actually on the mend,” said Lynn Franco, the Conference Board’s Director of Economic Indicators.
Private sector construction employment in New York City rose 2.4 percent in 2012 while wages have remained virtually unchanged, according to a New York Building Congress analysis released on April 29 of New York State Department of Labor employment statistics. New York City construction employment for all of 2012 averaged 114,875, up from an average of 112,192 jobs in 2011. Despite the recent upward trend in employment, average construction industry employment is still down 13 percent from 2008, during the height of New York City’s building boom.
On April 30, the United States Geological Survey (USGS) released new data that indicates 7.4 billion barrels of oil could be recovered from two massive shale formation spanning parts of North Dakota, South Dakota and Montana. That nearly doubles previous USGS estimates. In addition to oil, the two formations are estimated to contain 6.7 trillion cubic feet of undiscovered, technically recoverable natural gas and 0.53 billion barrels of undiscovered, technically recoverable natural gas liquids.
On April 24, Derek Leathers, Chief Operating Officer of Werner Enterprises Inc., told the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee that Congress needs to address the needs of the trucking industry by dedicating real funding to addressing freight transportation needs and improving the efficiency and productivity of the industry. “Trucks move 68 percent of our nation’s freight tonnage . . . [and] move $8.3 trillion worth of freight each year, nearly 60 percent of the U.S. economy,” Leathers said.
On April 29, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration announced an initiative to further protect temporary employees from workplace hazards. The agency’s regional administrators have directed field inspectors to assess whether employers who use temporary workers are complying with their responsibilities under the Occupational Safety and Health Act.
The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) has announced that Roadcheck 2013 will be June 4-6. Roadcheck is the largest targeted enforcement program on commercial vehicles in the world, with approximately 14 trucks or buses being inspected, on average, every minute from Canada to Mexico during a 72-hour period each June. Each year, approximately 10,000 CVSA-certified local, state, provincial and federal inspectors at 1,500 locations across North America perform the truck and bus inspections.
President Obama announced his nomination of Anthony Fox as Secretary of the Department of Transportation on April 30. Fox has been Mayor of Charlotte, N.C. since 2009. “The economy is growing. There are more jobs, more opportunity,” Obama said. “And if you ask Anthony how that happened, he’ll tell you that one of the reasons is that Charlotte made one of the largest investments in transportation in the city’s history.”
On May 28, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) eliminated a reporting regulation for interstate commercial truck and bus drivers and state licensing offices that had been made redundant by technological advances. Elimination of the regulation will not affect safety, noted FMCSA.
The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) has released an online, interactive mapping application that displays the location and types of Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) assets deployed nationwide. The application allows viewing of ITS technologies such as speed sensors, message signs, ramp meters, and roadway weather information systems. The ITS Asset Viewer provides data on ITS deployments for 46 states. DOT, along with partners at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, will periodically update the tool by adding new layers, integrating new data, and updating current data sets.
The U.S. Department of Transportation and the Trucking Industry Mobility & Technology Coalition will sponsor a free webinar on the benefits and consequences of GPS navigation systems used by commercial drivers on May 16 at 2 p.m. Eastern Time. It is becoming increasingly clear that GPS devices, particularly those that are designed for passenger vehicle use, can play a role in large truck crashes, particularly bridge strikes. While the roads and bridges are often well marked, many GPS units do not note large truck and bus restrictions.