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Construction spending in May reaches highest level since 2008

Construction spending climbed in May to the highest level since October 2008, according to an analysis released on July 1 by the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC).  “There were solid monthly and year-over-year gains in May for all major construction categories—private nonresidential, residential and public,” said AGC Chief Economist Ken Simonson. “The private segments appear poised to maintain growth throughout the year. But contractors increasingly report difficulty in finding workers with the right skills to construct large and complex projects.”

Truckers, carriers, law enforcement support Senate bill to reform FMCSA

On July 6, the leadership of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, the American Trucking Associations, and the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance signed on to a letter thanking Sen. Deb Fischer (R-Neb) for introducing a bill that seeks to reform the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). The bill, called Trucking Rules Updated by Comprehensive and Key Safety Reform Act, tackles everything from the lack of stakeholder involvement in the development of regulations to review and research involved in current and future regulations.

Cal/OSHA moves to address U.S. OSHA concerns about state plan

The California Occupational Safety and Health Administration (Cal/OSHA) program plans to use a 10 percent enforcement funding increase in the state’s recently passed budget to create 36 new enforcement positions among more than 70 additional full-time equivalents in the next fiscal year and boost overall inspection numbers, particularly those involving dangerous workplaces, according to an article in the July 13 issue of Inside OSHA Online. U.S.

Driver turnover falls in first quarter to four-year low

Annualized turnover rates at large and small truckload fleets each fell 12 percentage points in the first quarter of the year, according to Bob Costello, Chief Economist of the American Trucking Associations (ATA). “Clearly, the decline in driver turnover in the first quarter was significant, but what is less clear is why it dropped so much and whether turnover will continue to remain low,” he said.

OSHA, employers respond to injury reporting changes

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has been forced to work harder to respond to the increased number of incidents resulting from the agency’s revised injury reporting rule, which went into effect on Jan. 1. Previously, employers only had to report to OSHA work related fatalities or incidents where three or more workers were hospitalized, but now reporters must report all work related fatalities, as well as every work related hospitalization amputation and loss of an eye.

Driverless heavy haulers headed to Canada’s oil-sands

Suncor Energy Inc., Canada’s largest oil company, recently entered into a five-year agreement with Komatsu Ltd., the Japanese manufacturer of earthmoving and construction machines, to purchase new heavy-haul trucks for its oil-sands mining operations in the province of Alberta. The new 400-ton trucks will be “autonomous-ready,” meaning they are capable of operating without a driver, according to Suncor.

Rhode Island trucks-only toll plan dies when legislature adjourns

A truck-only toll scheme proposed in May by Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo (D) has died for now, according to an article in the July 3 State Laws Newsletter (SLN). The proposal, which was aimed at funding bridge repairs, was amended to apply only to tractor-trailers and to lighten the burden of tolls for local operators.

Coalition calls for increased vehicle weight limits for six-axle trucks

On July 6, the Coalition for Transportation Productivity (CTP) – a group of nearly 200 manufacturers, shippers, carriers and allied associations – urged members of Congress to review data from the Comprehensive Truck Size & Weight Limits Study from the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) and then take action to increase Interstate vehicle weight limits for six-axle trucks.

Charleston, S.C. moves to offer deepest East Coast Harbor

On July 1, the South Carolina Ports Authority (SCPA) announced over $1.3 million in federal funding for the Post-45 Harbor Deepening project, allowing the Preconstruction Engineering and Design (PED) Phase of the 52-foot deepening effort to begin. The project began in 2011 and has moved expeditiously through the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ accelerated planning process. Upon completion of the deepening, Charleston will offer the deepest harbor on the East Coast with unrestricted capability to handle post-Panamax vessel calls.

Louisiana enacts truck warranty law

Legislation confirming that truck fleets may continue to conduct warranty repair work on their vehicles, as well as vehicles that they repair under contract maintenance agreements, was signed into law by Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal on June 23. It goes into effect on Aug. 1. Senate Bill 243 was a compromise that the Truck Renting and Leasing Association (TRALA) helped craft with the Louisiana Auto Dealers Association and the Louisiana Motor Transport Association (LMTA).