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  • 2 Killed in Johnson County Trucking Accident Author Jasmine Reynolds June 09, 2014 A Johnson County woman and a woman from Illinois were killed Monday when the van they were riding in was struck from behind by a tractor-trailer. About the Traffic Crash According to the Burleson Star, the accident occurred around 7:30p.m. The van, a 2000 Chrysler Town and Country, was traveling East on Farm-To-Market Road 917 when it stopped to make a left turn.

    The van was then hit by a tractor-trailer owned by Cresson-based 3 Star Daylighting. The driver of the tractor-trailer, 32-year-old Wesley Lopez of Arlington, failed to control his speed before colliding with the van. The Speed limit in the area was posted at 60mph.

    The driver of the van, 20-year-old Crystal Medina of Alvarado, was taken to the hospital with serious injuries. Two passengers in the van, Imelda Medinademacias, 71, of Alvarado and Silvia Macias, 44, of Chicago, Illinois, were pronounced dead at the scene. Traffic Crash Statistics The following Information is provided by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA): 3,921 people were killed in traffic collisions involving large trucks in 2012.

    This marks a 4 percent increase from 2011 when 3,781 deaths were recorded. Another 104,000 people were injured in trucking accidents up 18 percent from the 88,000 injures recorded in 2011. Of those killed in trucking accidents in 2012: 697 were occupants of large trucks.

    2,843 were occupants of other vehicles.

    381 were nonoccupants, including bicyclists and pedestrians.

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  • Anne Ferro on a haul finally To all of you who ve clamored for it in commentary here, well it finally happened. Anne Ferro went out on a two-day haul with owner-operator Leo Wilkins, and David Tanner over at Land Line told the story following the haul. Wilkins took Ferro on a couple drops between Maryland and St.

    Louis. (The OOIDA Life Member also happens to be one of the drivers recognized by the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association with an award for his 21 years of safety at the Heart of America Trucking Show last month.) Part of what Ferro gleaned from the trip, Tanner reported, was a new perspective on the challenges the hours of service place on the driver s schedule, but also this, on spending the night in Wilkins bunk in Indianapolis as he took a hotel room: Wilkins' bunk is a lovely sleeping cabin. I looked at that and thought about what it would be like to be in a normal sleeper berth, and how difficult it is to change your clothes, how difficult it is to get fresh water, how you have to get up in the middle of the night or in the middle of your rest period to go to the bathroom at the truck stop if you don t have something like this accommodation . Read the full Land Line piece via this link.

    And as for Wilkins, he was appreciative of Ferro s effort, as Tanner wrote Wilkins thoughts: Coming along with me to get a firsthand look at things, I want to thank her from the bottom of my heart for doing that for me and for other truckers out there that are facing these problems. I ve learned a lot about her job and she s learned a lot about ours. Tell us what you think about the Administrator s effort in the comments.

    Again, here s the full story.

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  • Bi-fuel test drive: A new way into the natural gas game ... The Series 60 Detroit Diesel engine used in the test drive. The engine was refurbished and retrofitted with a bi-fuel natural gas kit from APG and Wheeltime before being dropped in a Freightliner Columbia glider. A road test and first-hand accounts of experience with natural gas retrofit fuel systems and glider kits reveal interesting possibilities for cost-minded truck fleets.

    The first part of my test drive was west on I-80 out of Salt Lake City, on the level desert run that leads to the Bonneville Salt Flats. The goal then had been flat ground and little traffic to give me a feel for the truck. But now, we d doubled back and were climbing the Wasatch Mountains east of the city on I-215 leading to I-80 East toward Park City.

    Here, I d get a chance to pull see some serious mountain grades and see for myself if a dual-fuel, diesel-ignited natural gas truck engine was up to hauling 44,000 pounds in this demanding terrain. As we started up the first grade, for reasons known only to Utah traffic engineers, the road suddenly began a series of winding S-turns at the same time as construction took a couple of lane options off the table. The truck was pulling well, but I grabbed another gear just to be on the safe side.

    As I did, we emerged from a particularly sharp and narrow curve to behold an industrial-grade cargo cart sitting directly in the lane in front of me. This was no Dollar General shopping cart; but rather a full-blown, orange-painted steel cart with cast-iron wheels that had obviously fallen off a truck just up ahead. Hit it and your day was over.

    Acting quickly, I eased my rig over to the side of the highway, watching out for four-wheelers darting and swerving all around me. After a couple of dicey seconds riding the median, I eased the truck back onto the highway and continued my climb. I mention the incident with the cargo cart not because there was anything special about how I dealt with the situation: It was an unpleasant few seconds during the drive but nothing special in the world of truck driving.

    Rather, the cart was significant because it was the most remarkable thing that occurred during my test drive of the Freightliner Columbia I was driving that day. And that s not a slam against the truck. But rather a vindication that this rig, a glider kit fitted with a refurbished diesel engine that itself was retrofitted with an American Power Group (APG) natural gas fuel system, had performed exactly as the folks at APG, the Wheel Time Group and Smith Power, the manufacturer of the truck, had assured me it would.

    What lies beneath Last year, I reported on the partnership founded between a cabal of glider kit builders, sales and support provider Wheel Time, natural-gas supplier Blu and APG to introduce the concept of natural gas glider kits to the North American trucking industry. The concept is simple: Fleets wishing to find an affordable way to get into the natural gas fuel game can spec glider kits with retrofit fuel systems and save as much as $40,000 on the vehicle compared to purchasing a new, dedicated natural gas truck. A further enticement for fleets, the argument goes, is that fleets can spec older, pre-EPA emissions (EGR) engines to power these trucks and enjoy more reliable power and serviceability in the bargain.

    The Freightliner Cascadia driven in the drive test. My test rig on that blustery Utah morning was a perfect example. The rig was a gleaming white 2014 Freightliner Columbia daycab truck.

    On the outside, even seasoned industry veterans would be unable to tell that this truck is anything other than a brand-new Freightliner ready to go to work. Climbing up into the cab, that reaction is further reinforced: The interior still had a factory-fresh smell with full, modern instrumentation and gauges, mirrors and ergonomics. Because the truck had been spec d as a regional-haul daycab, its interior appointments were pretty basic.

    But if you wanted to upgrade the interior with the latest Daimler diagnostic and telematics systems, it wouldn t be a problem at all. It was underneath the hood and cab where the real differences this tractor offered were to be found. Pulling the hood forward revealed not the new, SCR-equipped DD12 you could reasonably expect to see sitting there.

    Instead I was greeted with a concrete-gray, 1996-vintage Series 60 Detroit Diesel engine. Basically, glider kits take advantage of a quirky little loophole in truck manufacturing laws that allow fleets to purchase a truck with a brand-new cab and chassis, fitted with a recycled or refurbished drivetrain. The additional twist, thrown into the mix by APG, Wheeltime and their partners is that their rebuilt powertrains receive the further addition of a natural gas fuel and tank system.

    The system manages the flow of the two fuels to the engine, using diesel both as the ignition source in the combustion chamber and as a power boost in situations demanding higher torque from the engine. So, when the truck is just getting rolling or climbing a steep mountain grade, the system supplies larger amounts of diesel to the engine (up to 50 percent of the fuel supplied, depending on road and terrain conditions) and then dials that ratio back as engine load demands decrease. So, on my flat run heading west, the engine was using a minimum of diesel only a little shot to initiate combustion while the cheaper natural gas kept the wheels turning.

    Later, in the mountains, the system delivered a significantly higher percentage of diesel to the combustion mix to make sure I had plenty of power on hand to deal with the road I was on. It s a slick system that works surprisingly well. On the road, the truck handles and drives exactly as one expects: it is, after all, a brand-new truck.

    The only indications that something unusual is going are an electronic fuel system monitor on the dash, which tells the driver what the diesel to natural gas fuel ratio is. The second indication is the noise level in the cab. Although the truck is new, remember that it has a 20-year engine under the hood.

    And although that engine is also brand-new, for all practical purposes, and has received several technological upgrades in the course of the refurbishing process it went through, it is still a noticeably louder engine that new ones that come out of the factories today. So some more pronounced drivetrain noise is to be expected. On the other hand, if you re a fan of older engines like the Series 60, it s a good bet that you re more than happy to trade off a little more ambient cab noise for the chance to run those engines again. (To be fair, the work engine makers have done over the reduce noise levels emitted by heavy-duty diesel engines is unprecedented and largely goes unsung and unrecognized by the general public and even many fleets and drivers.

    Additionally, it should be noted that drivetrain noise decreases somewhat as the amount of diesel fuel being delivered to the engine falls off. So the truck is noticeably quieter when running predominantly on natural gas.) Most important of all, of course, is the performance of the fuel system in real-world driving conditions; which was why my hosts in Salt Lake were so eager for me to drive the truck in the mountains to the east of the city. And, again, as my earlier cart-in-the-road story testified, the dual-fuel system delivered in spades.

    The glider kit pulled as well as any truck on the highway. We were loaded with about 44,000 pounds in the box and had no problem dealing with any of the grades up to 6 in percent in some areas that we encountered. This is a system that works on behalf of fleets and drivers to get the job done.

    See Part 2 of this series Monday.

  • Bike, Large Truck Deaths Soar As Total Traffic Fatalities Drop Deaths of bicyclists and occupants of large trucks rose sharply last year even as total traffic fatalities dropped to their lowest level since 1949, federal safety officials said Monday. Bicyclist deaths jumped 8.7 percent and deaths of occupants of large trucks increased 20 percent, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said in an analysis of 2011 traffic deaths. Overall traffic fatalities dropped 1.9 percent, to 32,367.

    The decline came as the number of miles driven by motorists dropped by 1.2 percent. Last year also saw the lowest fatality rate ever recorded, with 1.10 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled in 2011, down from 1.11 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled in 2010. The increase in bicycle deaths probably reflects more people riding bicycles to work and for pleasure, said Jonathan Adkins, deputy executive director of the Governors Highway Safety Association, which represents state highway safety agencies.

    Washington, D.C., for example, reports a 175 percent increase in bicyclists during morning and evening rush hours since 2004. The city also tripled its bike lane network during the same period. Our culture is beginning to move away from driving and toward healthier and greener modes of transportations, Adkins said.

    We need to be able to accommodate all these forms of transportation safely. The increase in deaths of large-truck occupants is more puzzling, but may be due to more trucks returning to the road as the economy improves, he said. There are more questions than answers about what is occurring here, Adkins said.

    NHTSA said the agency is working with the Federal Motor Carrier Administration to gather more information to better understand the reason for the increase. Industry officials suspect there may be a connection between states increasing their speed limits and the increase in deaths, Sean McNally, a spokesman for the American Trucking Associations, said. Texas, for example, recently increased the speed limit 85 mph on Highway 130 between Austin and San Antonio, the fastest in the nation, he noted.

    Congress passed a transportation bill earlier this year that directs NHTSA to study how well large trucks protect their occupants in crashes. Motorcycle deaths also rose 2.1 percent, marking the 13th time in the last 14 years that motorcycle rider deaths have risen. Despite the overall progress in 2011, preliminary crash data for this year shows that motor vehicle deaths and injuries are trending upward again, Jackie Gillan, president of Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety.

    Copyright 2012 Associated Press.

    All rights reserved.

    This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • BRICS bank shifts balance of power in the global economy By Rachel Goldfarb, originally published on Next New Deal Click here to subscribe to Roosevelt First, our weekday morning email featuring the Daily Digest. Nobel Economist Joseph Stiglitz Hails New BRICS Bank Challenging U.S.-Dominated World Bank & IMF (Democracy Now) Roosevelt Institute Chief Economist Joseph Stiglitz says this bank will support the developing world's needs, and reflects fundamental shifts in global economic power. Port Trucking Industry Rips Off Drivers, Responsible Employers, and Taxpayers (The Hill) Roosevelt Institute Senior Fellow Richard Kirsch looks at the port truck drivers' strike in California as evidence of the need for stronger policy on independent contractors.

    Help a City, Write Its Budget (Bloomberg View) Roosevelt Institute Fellow Susan Crawford endorses participatory budgeting as one of the best ways to build strong civic engagement, and says technology can help. The Economy s Big Mystery: Why Workers are Disappearing From the Job Market (WaPo) Zachary Goldfarb looks at two theories from the White House Council of Economic Advisors that attempt to explain the drop in labor force participation since the recession began. Stop the Tax Inversions of Free-Riding Corporations (AJAM) By failing to pass laws that prevent companies from reincorporating aboard to avoid taxes, David Cay Johnston says Congress is supporting their shirking of responsibility.

    What Happens When Detroit Shuts Off the Water of 100,000 People (The Atlantic) Rose Hackman writes that Detroit residents have been forced to pay bills beyond their means or turn to illegal means to access water.

    The UN has declared this a human rights violation.

    States with Better 'Business Climates' Also Have Higher Inequality (CityLab) A new study finds an unfortunate connection between policies that encourage business and economic growth and rising inequality, writes Richard Florida.

  • Buying a Horse Farm on East coast-where would you go? May.

    14, 2011, 04:31 PM #1 Buying a Horse Farm on East coast-where would you go? Question-If you had the funds to purchase a small horse farm anywhere on the East Coast area, where would you go? I want to take into consideration the weather (hurricanes, tornados, floods, etc) as well as the availability of good hay (no more trucking in hay from up north) as well as NO snow or just a little.

    I was asked this question by a friend and I picked North Carolina or possibly South Carolina. I did not pick Florida due to the heat of the summer and Virginia was out because of the snow issue. What do you guys think?

    Keep in mind...normal is just a dryer setting.~anonymous May.

    14, 2011, 05:14 PM #2 May.

    14, 2011, 05:26 PM #3 May.

    14, 2011, 05:27 PM #4 Tabor City, NC! Because I know someone with a horse farm for sale there. Srsly, though, it's not a bad place to be.

    Property values are reasonable, but you're only a couple of hours' haul from Southern Pines or Camden. And only 25 minutes from me! Yes, one feeds coastal bermuda here.

    Otherwise, it's expensive. First Light Farm C r a y o l a posse ~ Maize May.

    14, 2011, 05:33 PM #5 I looked at a map of the US, ruled out anywhere that had snow (been there, done that), tons of rain, hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes (been there, done that), and anywhere that was more comfortable for a crocodile than a human being. I was pretty much left with North Carolina (inland, away from the coast) and South Carolina.

    Came to Aiken, SC one weekend, bought a farm, and never looked back! Absolutely love it here! You're entitled to your own opinion, not your own facts!

    May.

    14, 2011, 05:33 PM #6 May.

    14, 2011, 06:50 PM #7 May.

    14, 2011, 06:54 PM #8 You might seriously take a look in the Ocala/Williston areas of Florida. Horse Country for sure. Probably not a bit hotter than in the Carolinas and guaranteed to be nicer in the winter months.

    There are so many wonderful places that can be had cheaply too. "My treasures do not sparkle or glitter, they shine in the sunlight and nicker to me in the night" May.

    14, 2011, 07:02 PM #9 Virginia was out because of the snow issue. What do you guys think? VA - Snow?!

    I grew up in WA State - where there was on average 3+ feet of snow a winter. We still got to the shows even in the winter. When I moved to VA, it was like a dream come true.

    I've lived in both Charlottesville and outside of Lynchburg, and I can remember getting maybe 12 inches tops of snow, and it usually was gone within a week. If I ever have enough money, I'd love a farmette outside Charlottesville - probably out towards Keswick or in Ivy. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ ~Coth's Resident Deatheater~ May.

    14, 2011, 07:07 PM #10 May.

    14, 2011, 08:04 PM #11 You might seriously take a look in the Ocala/Williston areas of Florida. Horse Country for sure.

    Probably not a bit hotter than in the Carolinas and guaranteed to be nicer in the winter months. There are so many wonderful places that can be had cheaply too. I second this.

    I've lived in Maryland and it was just as hot there in the summer as it is here in Ocala. There are friends and faces that may be forgotten, but there are horses that never will be. - Andy Adams May.

    14, 2011, 08:32 PM #12 Tennessee has an added advantage, no personal income tax Yeah, but sales tax is 9-1/2 to 9-3/4 percent depending on where you settle. And NE Tennessee has probably changed from years ago.

    We lived there from 2000 to 2006 and I was thrilled to see it for the last time in my rearview mirror. Lots of drugs, meth especially, and lots of drunks, pregnant teenagers, and illiterate fat adults. Check out the "people of Walmart" site, there's a lot of them from the Tennessee area and I know exactly at which Walmart they were taking pictures.

    Very clannish, too, we never fit in no matter how hard we tried to dumb ourselves down. And you really need to be Baptist to live there, preferably the snake-handling kind. We left Tennessee in July (the day after my birthday to be exact, best birthday ever) and it was hotter in Fall Branch, TN, than it was in Live Oak, FL, where we lived for 2 years before relocating to the Ocala area.

    Love it here. Always something horsey to do, lots of trails to ride, shows to attend (polo tomorrow is free to watch!), not real cold in the winter (we saw some teens but it warms right back up) and only a couple months of really hot weather in the summer. Florida has no state income tax either and sales tax in Marion County is only 6 percent.

    And we have Silver Springs with the glass-bottom boats! If there's one thing that I've learned from all this living, Is that it wouldn't change a thing if I let go - Jimmy Buffett May.

    14, 2011, 09:33 PM #13 Yeah, but sales tax is 9-1/2 to 9-3/4 percent depending on where you settle. ! that is why so many people are moving to Texas, no personal income tax, state sells tax 6.25% to 8.25% (none on food) May.

    14, 2011, 11:22 PM #14 "I refuse to engage in a battle of wits with someone who is unarmed."--Pogo May.

    14, 2011, 11:31 PM #15 VA - Snow?! I grew up in WA State - where there was on average 3+ feet of snow a winter. Good lord, where in the world did you live in WA state?

    I've lived her for 30 years and we've only ever gotten a few inches every other year or so (with a few exception years). I can't imagine where you'd be to get several feet unless you were up in the mountains??? In regards to the OP.....I'm headed to NC as soon as we can sell our farm here in Seattle.

    I kept ruling states out based on weather and the potential for natural catastrophe and finally settled on NC. Though I just spent a week in SC and certainly wouldn't rule it out if it weren't for the fact that the majority of the employees I manage are in the Raleigh area. It should be noted, though, that my ruling out process involved a lot of assumptions based on not a whole lot.

    May.

    14, 2011, 11:52 PM #16 I just took a trip south to check out locales (most suggested in several pages here on COTH) in April. Since I follow horse racing, and also seek to get back to H/J owning some time, I went from Lexington to the Carolinas, to Northern VA. Lexington was, of course, beautiful with endless breeding farms, although I checked out racing farms vs.

    riding - didn't see too many convenient places for casual riding while there. Lots of very narrow roads that I'd be scared to ride a bike on, let alone ride along. But of course you'd have the best in vets, supplies, etc. - and I didn't really investigate many small towns.

    I briefly visited Aiken and Tryon NC. Aiken is beautiful, but very exclusive and pricey. An historians dream, and of course there's the park in town.

    I loved Tryon, but I'm a small town girl. Fairly out in the middle of nowhere, it seemed, but endless horse farms, and the prices seemed very reasonable. In fact I'm wondering what's the catch except for the remoteness.

    The hay mentioned above might be a clue? Wonder how the vets are. The spring tornadoes struck just as I was returning, but they wound around the NC/SC areas I was in, and tore up eastern NC, and along SW VA.

    I also visited Northern VA - Middleburg, The Plains, Berryville. Growing fast, exclusive, but amazing hunt country. My sister lives in nearby Winchester.

    She is moving back to NY, but she is not a horse person, and a bit of a homebody, so doesn't work for her. I am from central upstate New York, but have ridden and shown at barns in the Capital District/Saratoga area, as well as the Syracuse area. Winters up here are tough but Albany is milder than Syracuse.

    This year was downright awful, although the worst is when there's lots of ice - all we had to deal with this year was volumes of fluffy snow - 173" in Syracuse (4th worst on record - av. is 111.8"), and 87.2" in Albany (av. is 62").

    However, lots of boarding facilities have indoors attached to the stables, and riding and showing all year is typical. DPWs are used to dealing with the snow. Syracuse has very reasonable housing as well.

    And I've always thought the trainers available are excellent in both areas. And as mentioned above, still plenty of farmland so reasonable hay prices. Vet service is excellent near Syracuse and Albany/Saratoga - not so much in between where I live now.

    I have good friends in both places, but this winter really has me thinking twice about remaining in NY State. NY has tornado warnings, but any actual tornadoes usually do little. One wound through here 10 years ago, mostly winding through a couple of farms and a small airport.

    One touched down west of here a few days after the southern ones, but haven't heard of any real damage. Finally sig other lives in Maine, and I've been a regular visitor there the past 4 years. Some good barns, but the cost of living, including housing, boarding and riding, at least around Southern Maine, is pretty steep.

    I was given a retired OTTB this year, and could board and train him in Syracuse for $400 +$200 training - Maine began at $800+. And most shows, from what I understand, are a haul. Portland is a neat town to live in - outstanding restaurants, lots of conveniences for a small city, and still quaint New England, but many Bostonians, NYers, etc.

    have found it, too. Lots of snow, and often ice damage is an issue in Maine. I don't feel the utilities are as well maintained there - power, phone, cable.

    Sig other has had more power outages in his seaside place than I have had out in the middle of nowhere in NY. I'm intrigued by the mention of maritime Canada above. Visited New Brunswick this fall - beautiful, and family goes back to ancestors there.

    I avoided visiting FL in my trip as I just assumed it was too hot in the summer. Maybe I'll think twice and check out Ocala some day. Good luck with your decision.

    I read every one of these threads about where to go. May.

    15, 2011, 12:04 AM #17 I think it is hard to narrow it down without knowing specifically what you want to do with your horses. I'm from Virginia hunt country, but absolutely love the Southern Pines area.

    A little bit to the north is agreat town called Pittsboro. I had clients that lived there. It is near enough to Raleigh/Durham but has a great small town with some class feel.

    They had cute little shops and some great restaurants. It is still going to be hotter than blazes in the summer, and instead of snow you get ice storms!!! I learned everything I know from a chestnut mare so don't even try me.

    May.

    15, 2011, 12:06 AM #18 May.

    15, 2011, 12:10 AM #19 May.

    15, 2011, 08:08 AM #20 Finally sig other lives in Maine, and I've been a regular visitor there the past 4 years. Some good barns, but the cost of living, including housing, boarding and riding, at least around Southern Maine, is pretty steep. I was given a retired OTTB this year, and could board and train him in Syracuse for $400 +$200 training - Maine began at $800+.

    And most shows, from what I understand, are a haul. Portland is a neat town to live in - outstanding restaurants, lots of conveniences for a small city, and still quaint New England, but many Bostonians, NYers, etc. have found it, too.

    Lots of snow, and often ice damage is an issue in Maine. I don't feel the utilities are as well maintained there - power, phone, cable. Sig other has had more power outages in his seaside place than I have had out in the middle of nowhere in NY.

    I live in mid-coast Maine, and, depending on what you want for a horse life, it doesn't have to be $800+. Of course, if you don't want to deal with any snow then New England is probably not a good option. I pay $300 a month for 24/7 turnout with a shed.

    My BO offers discounted lessons for boarders at $30 for 45 min-an hour. Full training is $300 on top of board, but she offers partial training, too, such as riding your horse either 2 or 3 times a week. I agree that cost of living is high here, although hay is relatively inexpensive compared to some of the prices I've seen posted here on CoTH.

    We pay 3.50-4.00 a bale for good grass hay. You can find lots of small barn boarding opportunities, and some good deals on properties where you can keep your horse at home. Certain areas are more prone to power outages in the winter, it truly depends on whether you are in an area that gets more ice and high winds or not.

    An indoor arena is a must if you have real competitive goals, but I also know some competitive trail types who ride all winter on snowmobile trails. Oh, and it is a haul to anything but schooling type dressage shows, which are fairly numerous and in many locations. I think if I wanted to stay in New England I might check out western Massachussetts.

    From visits I've made there they get a real spring a good 6 weeks earlier than we do in Maine.

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  • California High Speed Rail Blog Should LA Spend $3.5 Billion to ... Today s Long Beach Press-Telegram has a long and detailed and quite good article on the current status of the ancient debate over the 710 extension. The latest concept is to bore two tunnels under South Pasadena at a cost of at least $3.5 billion. But is it even necessary?

    Especially when there s a screaming need for more passenger rail investment? The article does a good job of laying out the terms of debate if the 710 extension is built, would it help complete the regional freeway network, or would it become just another clogged SoCal freeway? South Pasadena mayor Michael Cacciotti argues the latter, and he has evidence to support him: Cacciotti, also a board member for the South Coast Air Quality Management District, said Caltrans 1993 completion of the Century (105) Freeway in the South Bay is a prime example of what could happen on the 710.

    Within two weeks of opening it was bumper to bumper in rush hour, he said. Traffic patterns move to the open areas. And the same thing happened with the Foothill (210) Freeway when it was extended from La Verne to the 215 in San Bernardino, Cacciotti said.

    In 2009, Iteris, a Orange County- based traffic consultant group, conducted a survey called the I-710 Missing Link Truck Study. Released only in draft form, the study seems to back up Cacciotti s claim. Commissioned by the Southern California Association of Governments, Iteris consultants found that fully half of 18 trucking companies surveyed indicated they would use the 710 extension route for trucking operations.

    Cacciotti argues for building light rail along the corridor instead, which makes sense remove the passenger trips and leave the freeway to trucks going to and from the port, which is a major source of traffic on the 710 as it is. And already there is rail service from Long Beach to Pasadena via the Blue and Gold lines, a trip the Downtown Connector would make even quicker and easier. But even turning the 710 into a de facto truck freeway may not be the most effective use of money or the best way to move goods.

    The answer instead could be rail: Improvements to rail, which carries two-thirds of the items from the port out of the Los Angeles County basin will be the key to moving goods more efficiently, according to Michael Christensen, deputy executive director of the Port Of Los Angeles. Port of Los Angeles officials say they are turning to the Alameda Corridor East project as the solution to freight congestion rather than installing north-south train tracks through existing neighborhoods. The Alameda Corridor East is essentially a pathway from the ports followed by eastbound trains along the 710 corridor to the 60 Freeway and into San Bernardino County and beyond.

    For the most part it runs parallel to the 10 and the 60 between both. The ACE project aims to update west-to-east rail lines to accommodate communities along its path. It will also add a second rail line to increase efficiency.

    We re providing a larger artery for the increased volume, said ACE board Chairman David Gutierrez. This project has been identified as not only a project of regional significance but also of national significance. BNSF is also building a major new rail yard near the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, which according to the company would take 1.5 million trucks off the 710 Freeway.

    The Alameda Corridor East project, modeled on the successful north-south Alameda Corridor rail project completed about ten years ago, combined with other rail improvements would help address the goods movement issue. Many of the goods offloaded at the port are handled in warehouses in the Inland Empire, and the Alameda Corridor East would help trains get to those warehouses more easily. That seems a much more sound use of money than building two large bored tunnels underneath South Pasadena.

    The article points out that the model for those freeway tunnels is Seattle s Alaskan Way Viaduct tunnel, an extremely controversial project that has yet to begin tunneling. Uncertainty remains about whether it will be built without cost overruns, and last week it emerged that a lot of traffic might avoid the tunnel altogether if tolls were set at rates needed to help pay for the project. It s not at all clear to me that the 710 extension is a good use of money.

    Investments in new transportation infrastructure in California ought to be focused on rail, for both passengers and freight.

    It s time to stop wasting billions on freeway lanes that will just get clogged with cars while the need to invest in clean, reliable, fast passenger rail continues to grow.

  • Case Study: How We Improved Landing Page Conversions by 79.3% It took us 6 rounds of tests until we landed on a variation that was doing 79.3% better than the version our client had before coming to us. Background TruckersReport is a network of professional truck drivers, connected by a trucking industry forum. It s a great community for drivers to share information and assist in each others careers.

    I guess it s what you would call a niche site but that niche is bringing TruckersReport over 1,000,000 visits each month (close to 5 million pageviews). One of the services they provide to their community is helping truck drivers find better job opportunities. Truck drivers fill out a one-time online resume and then choose between offers from pre-screened trucking companies.

    This was the landing page they had, our starting point: This landing page was converting at 12.1% (email opt-ins). What followed after the initial landing page was a 4-step online resume building flow. The primary task at hand was to increase landing page conversions to widen the funnel at the top but also to increase overall funnel conversions.

    Analysis In addition to heuristic analysis, we analyzed the current page using Google Analytics, set up mouse tracking data collection (click data, scroll maps, attention heat maps) and started to record user session videos via SessionCam. Next, we wanted to understand the audience better. We ran an online survey using Google Docs with the goal to get in the head of the truck drivers.

    Why were they looking for a new job? What matters the most about truck driving jobs, and what were the main motivators? What were their main hesitations and questions when considering a new job offer?

    These were the top factors what we focused on: Mobile visits (smartphones + tablets) formed about 50% of the total traffic. Truck drivers were using the site while on the road! > Need responsive design Weak headline, no benefit > Need a better headline that includes a benefit, addresses main pain-points or wants Cheesy stock photo, the good old handshake > Need a better photo that people would relate to Simple, but boring design that might just look too basic and amateur > Improve the design to create better first impressions Lack of proof, credibility > Add some Drivers wanted 3 things the most: better pay, more benefits and more home time. Other things in the list were better working hours, well-maintained equipment, respect from the employer.

    Many were jaded by empty promises and had negative associations with recruiters. Armed with these insights, we proceeded. New design This was the new, fully responsive, design we created.

    We didn t want to change the layout dramatically. We wanted to better isolate user issues. Heat maps and user session replay videos showed that the previous layout worked well in terms of usability.

    Why this layout: Prominent headline that would be #1 in visual hierarchy Explanatory paragraph right underneath to explain what the page is about Large background images tend to work well as attention-grabbers Warm, smiling people that look you in the eye also help with attention Left side of the screen gets more attention, so we kept copy on the left As per Gutenberg diagram, bottom right is the terminal area, so that explains the form and call to action placement. In the process we also re-designed the funnel steps (also fully responsive). Tests Test #1 Hypothesis: Fewer form fields = less friction and hassle to fill out the form, resulting in more conversions.

    Results: The control beat the variation by 13.56%. Insights: Although short forms usually outperform long forms, this did not apply here. More testing is needed to figure out why.

    Hypothesis: added fields give more credibility or add relevancy, a plain e-mail field can look spammy . Test #2: Hypothesis: Copy that addresses most common problems truck drivers are facing, using the the wording they actually use (taken from the customer survey) will resonate better with the audience. We crafted a new headline + bullet points full of benefits and addressed other stuff that came up in the survey.

    Results: While there was no difference in landing page opt-ins, there was a 21.7% difference in the bottom of the funnel conversions original won. People lured in by big promises were less motivated to go through the whole 5-step funnel. Insights: Short, straight-to-the point language can work.

    Too many promises can look like a hype, or attract the wrong kind of people. Test #3 In the first 2 tests, the average conversion rates had been similar to the original landing page. But since traffic is ever-changing, we decided to test the original landing page vs.

    the new landing page to make sure the design was enhancing the site. In addition, we wanted to test the absence of a job match page. By default people who completed the opt-in, landed on this page, which had some animation on it that made people feel progress in the background: The idea behind having this page was to help boost bottom of the funnel conversions.

    Google Anaytics showed us that there was a 10.8% drop-off rate on this page. So we wanted to test whether losing those people would have a negative impact. Results: Variation #1 (new landing page) resulted in 21.7% more opt-ins than the control at 99.7% confidence level, and 24% more signups from the whole funnel.

    Job match page did not help improve bottom of the funnel conversions, so we decided to remove it. Test #4 We wanted to test more headlines. Contestants: Original: Get a truck driving job with better pay .

    Straightforward. Question: Looking for a truck driving job with better pay? The idea here is the notion that people always answer questions in their mind when they read a question.

    3 main benefits: Better Pay. More Benefits. Respect for drivers.

    These benefits came from the survey as the 3 most important priorities to the audience. But you are free: You can get a driving job with better pay. But, of course, you are free to choose.

    The psychological phenomenon of autonomy is at play here and is widely researched to increase persuasiveness. Results: Control outperformed all the variations. The original headline won the second best variation You are free to choose by 16.2%.

    Insight: A simple, straightforward approach works best for this audience. So the question is how can we use this insight to make the page even simpler? Test #5 Building on the simple insight from the previous test, we created a shorter, simpler version of the page: Results: Variation #1 with a shorter page layout and less copy outperformed the control and resulted in 21.5% more opt-ins at a 99.6% confidence level.

    Insight: Learnings from previous tests proved to be right shorter layout and less copy resulted in more opt-ins. How can we now make it even simpler? Test #6 We had many different hypotheses on how to simplify the page even more.

    New design that s built from the get go for a more compact layout. Better content presentation typically helps. Remove all fields but the email field (the only mandatory field).

    Less fields typically helps. Get rid of the name field and make the email field the last one. The idea here is for people to start with easy fields (dropdowns), its easier to get going, and by the time they reach the hard field email the user is thinking oh well I already started (a known psychological phenomenon called commitment and consistency by Cialdini), so we d be riding on momentum.

    Results: Variation #3 with no name field and email as the last field resulted in 44.7% more opt-ins at a 99.9% confidence level. We achieved a 21.7% conversion rate (the margin of error was 1.48% but no overlap with the ranges of other variations occurred) which is 79.3% is better than the initial landing page we started to work on. Conclusion: Testing is an iterative process When you start testing a page, don t test just once and move on to testing other parts of the site.

    Don t think of the process as one-off tests, but as testing campaigns. Learn from each test, make sure you send test data to Google Analytics and segment the results (I didn t go into details with this here), and keep iterating. Use insights from previous tests to drive upcoming tests.

    You won t know what matters until you test it. Have a lot of patience. If we had only tested the control vs.

    the new landing page we wouldn t have reached 79.3% and we re just getting started.

    VN:F 1.9.22_1171 Rating: 5.0/ 5 (10 votes cast) Case Study: How We Improved Landing Page Conversions by 79.3% , 5.0 out of 5 based on 10 ratings

  • Cyclist sues truck driver after log strikes him in the head MARSHALL After a cyclist was struck in the head by a log, he filed a lawsuit against the truck driver and the company claiming the driver was at fault for not properly trimming the logs. Phillip Christopher Haltom filed suit against David Paul Weaver and Murphy Bros. Trucking and Construction on Aug.

    15 in the Eastern District of Texas, Marshall Division. The accident occurred on Oct.

    4, 2012, as Haltom and his wife were riding bicycles down FM 249 in Cass County near Bloomberg. Defendant Weaver, while driving an 18-wheeler that was hauling logs, attempted to pass Haltom.

    According to the lawsuit, the logs were not trimmed properly and a portions of the logs hit Haltom in the back of the head causing him to wreck. The defendants are accused of negligence for failing to properly trim and haul the load of logs, failing to assure the no logs were dangerously being carried outside the rig s trailer, failing to keep a proper lookout, failing to properly share the road with a bicyclist, failing to yield the right of way, failing to control speed, failing to timely apply the rig s brakes, operating the rig in an unsafe manner and for driver inattention. The plaintiff is seeking an award of damages for medical expenses, pain and suffering, physical impairment, physical disability, mental anguish, lost earnings, loss of earning capacity, interest and court costs.

    Haltom is represented by Matthew F. Golden of Cochran & Golden PLLC in Texarkana. A jury trial is requested.

    Case No.

    2:13-cv-00630

  • F

  • Feeling Congested: Does Toronto Suffer From The Moscow ... The City of Toronto s consultations about transportation plans and financing continued on the evening of March 4, 2013, with a panel discussion at the St. Lawrence Centre. The 500-seat Jane Mallett Theatre was packed for the event, and had been sold out for several days in advance.

    The participants were: Matt Galloway, host of CBC s Metro Morning , as moderator Jennifer Keesmaat, Chief Planner of Toronto Larry Beasley, retired Chief Planner for Vancouver, keynote speaker Carol Wilding, president and CEO of the Toronto Board of Trade Councillor Peter Milczyn, chair of Toronto s Planning & Growth Management Committee and member of the Toronto Transit Commission Councillor Michael Thompson, chair of Toronto s Economic Development Committee John Howe, Vice-President, Investment Strategy and Project Evaluation at Metrolinx The most newsworthy comments of the evening were a clear break by the two Councillors, both members of Mayor Ford s Executive Committee, with the Mayor s position on financing transit. Michael Thompson stated that getting rid of the Vehicle Registration Tax was a mistake , and Peter Milczyn stated that Council (by implication with or without the Mayor) would approve a suite of tools to generate the needed revenue. The message that the people are ahead of the politicians on transit financing, first raised by Carol Wilding, was a consistent theme.

    Updated Mar.

    5, 2013 at 11:10 am: Although Larry Beasley s thesis was that Moscow was trapped in an inescapable hole caused by decades of inaction on transit investment, this information appears to be out of date. As one commenter here has noted, since the arrival of a new mayor and the availability of petrodollars, a lot has been happening. This can also be seen by a cursory trip around the internet looking at the Moscow system.

    Yes, the hole they have to dig out of was very deep, but they re trying. Toronto has not yet really acknowledged the effort needed not just to arrest the decline, but to make up for decades when transit wasn t important enough beyond fighting over a vanity subway line or two. Introduction Jennifer Keesmaat led off with an introductory talk about the City s review of its Official Plan and the critical issue of how to finance transit.

    As already reported here in a previous article, Phase 1 of the process runs to the end of March when staff will recommend to Council the tools that should be endorsed as part of the regional Metrolinx Investment Strategy. Phase 2 will follow with identification of priority projects and refinement of policies. Phase 3 will produce the recommended project list and link reduction of congestion to funding tools.

    All of this will take place, in theory, by the beginning of 2014. Keesmaat is still touting the standard argument that reduction of congestion is the goal, but we have known ever since The Big Move was published by Metrolinx that the best we can hope for is to manage congestion and the effects of growth, not eliminate it. She also raised the question of goods movement and the role of the road network.

    This is an undercurrent in many discussions, and could be a Trojan horse used by advocates of car-oriented projects. What is still missing is a recognition that the balance between roads, transit, cycling and pedestrians varies across the city, and the presence of a 16-lane expressway in one part of town does not imply that entire city should be bulldozed in the name of faster trucking. Indeed, the trucking needs vary from one area to another, and the densely developed residential and commercial areas do not have the same needs as an industrial park.

    Keesmaat noted that Toronto has been successful in directing growth to areas identified in the Official Plan. That s good as far as it goes, but this misses two key points. First, many of those areas would have grown anyhow whether the OP flagged them or not.

    Second, the OP may have identified transit corridors and hoped to sustain growth with new routes, but in fact Toronto has built little to support the premise that transit will be integral to the City s growth. The most flagrant example is on the waterfront, but we also risk increased density on major corridors without a commitment to increased transit service or infrastructure. This inactivity feeds directly into public skepticism about new transit plans.

    Keesmaat noted that growth should be directed, and land use should be organized to reduce the need for movement be it commuting for work and education, or to leisure activities. However, changing existing land use and travel patterns on that scale takes a generation or more, and the established city is self-reinforcing. Downtown is and will remain downtown.

    Universities will not move to new locations to suit the convenience of transit planners or the aspirations of every municipality. Industrial uses will remain where they have good transportation, almost certainly road-oriented. The Feeling Congested website has had over 10,000 hits and there have been 6,000 responses to its questionnaire. (The hit count seems rather low considering that a site like mine goes through that many in less than a week.

    The number may actually refer to unique visitors.) Keesmaat reported that feedback from consultations shows that people want a clear link between new revenue and actual building, and that improvement of the travel experience (for which read quality and quantity of service) must improve. The site remains open for responses until March 15. Keesmaat concluded by saying that there is an enormous appetite for tangible outcomes , and that people want more pleasure in their everyday lives.

    Keynote Larry Beasley echoed the mood of the evening in saying that it s about time we have this conversation, and then launched into a defense of land use planning as the best way to plan transit. Proximity is the best solution with diversity in choices of modes for movement. People will choose their travel mode trip by trip, but policies should encourage and support movement by walking, cycling, transit, goods movement and last by automobile.

    There will be less space for cars, but they won t disappear. He lauded what Toronto has already done with its directed growth (see above), increased densities, strong transit ridership and high cost recovery (which Beasley sees as a mark of a health transit system, not of a skinflint collection of funding partners). Toronto has a very different transportation problem than other North American cities, one that is harder to cope with, and Beasley calls this the Moscow syndrome .

    Beasley has worked in that city in its attempt to come to grips with rising transit demand and strangling congestion, but Moscow faces the result of 20 years during which nothing was invested in the system after the fall of the Soviet system. The transit network has very high daily ridership, the urban structure encourages walking and transit trips, but things are coming apart at the seams. A trip to the airport takes three hours in traffic, and crowd control measures are needed on the transit system.

    There is not enough money for any projects, and governments have been in a collective denial about the scope of the problem. There are universal truths transportation needs cannot be sustained just on automobiles. Auto investment leads to increased use, and in Moscow s economic climate, to exponential growth.

    Failure to invest leads to a decline in transit s attractiveness and falling riding, and the longer this persists, the harder it is to catch up. Moscow planners have no idea how to get control of the situation. The dysfunctional network makes the city less competitive and economic development incentives don t work because they cannot overcome fundamental transportation problems.

    Moscow offers a lesson to Toronto. We are not as far down this path, but the symptoms are there for anyone to see. Moscow s experience confirms that this is not about choosing one funding source, but all that are available.

    The debate will be over timing and ordering of new revenues (some are easier to implement both organizationally and politically), what Beasley called a choreography of spending . There are basic consumer trends that must be recognized: People have a high expectation of what they will consume, that they have a good experience, and that service (in this case) transit must be there. Who provides it is secondary to its actually existing.

    People are fed up with government s loss of control. People will avoid what they don t have to pay for, but will pay for what they want. People will pay up front if they have a guarantee of delivery at the promised quality.

    People will always compare new costs with what they face now and will regard new transit spending (at a presumed $600/person/year) as not that big a deal . People want to be involved in the decisions. Beasley had a set of recommendations for Toronto: We must go further to get integrated planning across the region and across transportation modes.

    Citizens must be involved for widespread understanding and acceptance of plans. There must be an air tight guarantee of directed spending, and a citizens bill of rights for mobility. Key decisions should be made directly by the electorate.

    Direct democracy is messy and should be saved for fundamental issues. There needs to be advocacy for new plans including information on the effect of doing nothing or of various approaches to balance between modes. Trust in the wisdom of the people and engage them in the debate.

    Beasley noted that extra charges could be used to discourage unwanted practices, while discounts could be used as incentives for desired behaviours. He then undercut his own thesis by proposing that the wealthy could buy the right to park and this revenue could be used to subsidize transit for the needy. Density bonusing could be formally on sale with extra revenues going to fund transit investment.

    Well, no. If parking is bad, it does not matter whether you can buy your way to paradise. As for density, if your Official Plan says that an area should grow at a certain density, then buying your way out of that constraint makes the planning irrelevant.

    Moreover, fast turnover of land near new transit lines is not guaranteed as we have seen in Toronto. This is not just a question of bad planning by Toronto (look at the long-dormant Etobicoke Centre at the six points, or the lack of development around the Spadina subway), but of the basic fact that the market builds where there is a demand and a profit to be made. Toronto must plot out a pro-active strategy and plan for growth or we will not stay as an A-league city .

    Toronto has to pay for what it needs. There may be some money in budgetary savings and waste , but this is nowhere near enough. New money is needed, and Toronto should borrow now against future revenue to deliver improvements quickly.

    Get on with the job, and flag anyone who stalls the process and the cost of delay. The Panel Discussion Matt Galloway directed a series of questions to the panel. To Carol Wilding: What has the Board of Trade been doing?

    Public engagement has been ongoing for over a year, and the public, including the business community, is ahead of the politicians who may be unwilling to seize the issue. People are fed up with policy zigzags , constant changes of direction, and there is a real sophistication in understanding issues and costs. Galloway replied that polls show that huge numbers of people don t know what is going on with planning.

    Wilding observed that there is a range of understanding but people are ready for decisions. To John Howe: Nobody knows what The Big Move is. Metrolinx is a young agency, only five years old, but they have an integrated plan.

    What is needed is a better communications job, and a desire to think and act as a region. Galloway again: but many don t know about this. Howe: we are building already and we need to sell what we are doing.

    At this point I must offer an observation of my own. Metrolinx repeatedly trots out the $16-billion in projects now underway as an example that things are happening . The problem is that the majority of this money has not yet been spent and there is some concern whether the first tier of projects will all be built, or at least funded from general revenues as originally announced, thanks to ongoing deferral of actual spending by Queen s Park.

    As for the individual projects, a great deal of this is out of sight to most people. The Spadina subway extension, a project launched before Metrolinx even existed, has major construction effects on the areas through which it passes, but is otherwise of little concern to most of the GTHA. The Eglinton LRT project has not progressed beyond construction of the access pit at Black Creek Drive.

    Construction at Union Station is a constant reminder for GO Transit riders and for people who work or travel near Front and Bay, but is unknown beyond there. Work on the Union Pearson Express affects those along the corridor, but few others. Work on busways in Mississauga and in York Region similarly affects the immediate vicinity of the works, but nobody else.

    The GTHA is a big place, and if we were to draw a map showing where work is actually underway and visible, there would be a lot of white space. To Jennifer Keesmaat: The same issue a large number of people don t know what s going on. The City s consultation rounds are intended to get the message out, and talk about the City s role and its future.

    Movement must be refined around pedestrians, cycling and transit. Toronto is part of a regional framework, but this won t necessarily mesh with the City s plans. Toronto is already a large region on its own crushed under the weight of its amalgamation.

    To Carol Wilding: What about a Toronto first outlook? Wilding s definition is much broader than borders. She agrees with Keesmaat that there is a micro conversation about the City of Toronto and active transportation, but there are also discussions around the region.

    To John Howe: How does Toronto thrive in this context? Howe feels that for the region to work, there must be a strong Toronto. However, there are 6.6m people in the region and travel across regional boundaries is common.

    This misses the whole point that we are supposed to be encouraging local demand, but recogizes that regional demand isn t going away soon. Jennifer Keesmaat observed that creating places to live in Hamilton while working in Toronto will cost a lot to support, and we will fail. We need local transit, closely spaced stations for easy access and neighbourhood hubs.

    A network designed around long-distance movement will not provide this. Peter Milczyn felt that there is too much parochial talk about fair shares in any planning. He would like his constituents (in Etobicoke) to be able to move around the region into Brampton or Markham, say.

    Local land use should support good transit access and compact urban nodes. Toronto has done a bad job with nodes notably at subway stations. Metrolinx is a new agency can/will they do better?

    Michael Thompson wants to look at the region in its entirety. It takes someone three hours to get downtown from Malvern. We need to look at everyone s needs and all of the transportation network.

    He remembers when the zone fare paid at Don Mills and Eglinton was eliminated, but also when stickers on transit vehicles proclaimed that they were funded by the Province of Ontario. How can we connect local neighbourhoods into the system. The public needs more say at both the local and regional levels.

    Matt Galloway asked Thompson whether he would ask voters to support transit funding in the coming election. He replied that he is in favour of distance based fares, and that his constituents would pay this if only they can get service. What else beyond fares?

    A sales tax seems to be a very appropriate tool. Peter Milczyn prevers a parking levy because this links bad land use to the cost of providing transportation. Galloway: Is there the political will?

    Milczyn replied that the status quo isn t working. How much of an obstruction is the Mayor? Milczyn calmly but forcefully replied that Council will speak .

    In the past administration Miller, there was no linkage between new taxes (Land Transfer and Vehicle Registration taxes) and outcomes. Now that we are delivering on new transit investment, the debate will shift. Michael Thompson spoke of the need for leadership.

    This is not just about travel, but the loss of competitiveness in Toronto. The view that we can have affordable transit without paying for it no longer holds, but we must show people what they can have and make a realistic presentation of the options. Galloway: How do you counter people who are opposed to the plans or the spending?

    Michael Thompson replied that at the end of the day, we have to look at the future of the city and make tough decisions. Does this mean something to people now? You can t have it both ways this is not realistic.

    Leadership requires that we let people know somebody has to pay for transit. On the choreography of spending , Larry Beasley explained that some sources are easy to implement, some more painful. Road and bridge tolls faced stiff opposition in Vancouver.

    If you start with easier sources and build something, then there will be greater reception for additional revenue sources. We must be specific about phasing, project costs and the actual cost/person. Carol Wilding agreed saying that the conversation is about the appetite for funding tools.

    Everybody has to sacrifice, and there are many examples of urban centres who have already done this. Jennifer Keesmaat noted that bringing people into the conversation with good information and analysis yields benefits, builds trust and gives politicians information for discussions with their constituents. She reported a recent conversation with Mississauga Mayor Hazel McCallion who urged using the revenue tool cities already have property taxes.

    Matt Galloway asked John Howe about the issue of charging for parking at GO lots. Howe replied that Metrolinx must report by June 1 with a recommended set of tools for 25 years and beyond. We are one of the last urban regions without dedicated funding tools.

    Direct funding from governments doesn t work any more as they are already tapped out . But what if parking charges drive people away from transit? People don t want to feel that we are targeting just one segment for new revenue.

    A mix of user fees, everybody pays taxes such as sales tax, and beneficiary levies (such as development charges) are all needed. Moreover, we shouldn t just build transit but also walking and parking for access. Larry Beasley noted that good transit station integration with access to neighbourhoods are needed.

    Peter Milczyn noted that when the TTC started to charge for parking, transit riding went up and parking use went down to the point that some property is now being redeveloped for housing right on the subway s doorstep. If people don t want to pay for parking, they won t get anywhere fast by driving rather than by taking transit. What about pedestrians and cyclists?

    The city has a responsibility to provide infrastructure and space, and must also look after road improvements and maintenance. What about the polarized conversation of roads versus transit? Michael Thompson felt that Toronto is getting there on this topic, but we will continue to be a car-friendly city for a long time.

    We rely on the auto industry for economic activity. Galloway: What does this have to do with getting around if there are fewer cars there is more opportunity for better transit, cycling and public realm improvements. Thompson noted that autos won t disappear overnight.

    Larry Beasley pointed out that in 10 years, at most, automobiles will be clean , and the pollution argument will go away. The demand for personal mobility will continue to rise, and we need to manage cars more aggressively than ever. They are only one of the movement choices.

    Pedestrian and cycling facilities are too often value engineered out of projects, and these modes need to have a guaranteed source of funds. The focus is on transit because that s where the big problem is seen. John Howe noted that 25% of the proposed Next Wave revenue stream will go to local projects including active transportation.

    Jennifer Keesmaat replied that the challenge is where this 25% is used for example there is no public realm budget for the Eglinton corridor and that there is a gap between statements and the reality of what is planned. Who pays for what remains an issue (and by implication especially if Metrolinx downloads some aspects of transit projects into that local 25%). Keesmaat felt that money should be provided for a cross-city cycling track across Eglinton.

    Should we put these questions to the public? Peter Milczyn wondered whether we have the time or the leadership for such a campaign. Los Angeles had a mayor as leader of the transit tax referendum, but Milczyn was unsure that Toronto has this leadership.

    We know what the problem is, what the solutions are, and there is the political will to proceed. The 2014 election will be the plebiscite. Larry Beasley felt that this audience was the converted , and these policies need a deep constituency.

    It s basic democracy and a stronger way to build support. Michael Thompson agreed that consultation with residents is needed, but many of his constituents say just act . Carol Wilding said that from a business perspective, there is a need to consult, but businesses don t want more and just want politicians to get on with the job.

    Anyone who says I don t like that must be challenged for an alternative. Saying I won t pay is not acceptable any more. What more incentive do we need beyond the $6-billion annual cost of congestion?

    As a wrap up question, Matt Galloway asked what sign people who are not at this meeting will have that action is here. John Howe: We are building already, and this is the launching pad for the next wave of tools. Carol Wilding: The Board of Trade will come out with a narrow set of tools and a shift in focus to specifics from the general discussion.

    Peter Milczyn noted that the city s consultation on revenue tools will come to Council for a decision soon. Jennifer Keesmaat felt that the conversation should be unending but evolving , and without it we will miss a deep understanding among the public. We must hold politicians accountable.

    The conversation is very different from three years ago and we are now talking about how to pay for transit. A charter is needed setting out what the City of Toronto will commit to with new revenue tools, and we must build trust with the public. Michael Thompson reiterated the need for leadership.

    This is a time to act. Although there is a lot of work in progress, the public doesn t know about it and we must demonstrate what is going on. Where will this leadership come from?

    From the people and from Council. Larry Beasley argued that if in three months everybody adopted the same citizens bill of rights for mobility that would give a guarantee that we will deliver to a common commitment. Questions From the Floor Will electric vehicles (unspecified) be included as a transportation mode.

    From Thompson and Milczyn, yes , although it is unclear just what this means. The elephant in the room is Rob Ford. What will Council do to get Ford Nation to open their eyes that the Mayor s hope for private funding with no new taxes won t work.

    Peter Milczyn replied that Council will approve a transportation plan and a funding plan there will be a majority in support. Michael Thompson said that the fact we (the Councillors) are here should send a strong message about support for this direction. Milczyn said that we have had a lot of drama that is entertaining, annoying and frustrating, but not much is slowing down.

    Thompson observed that there has been no response from the private sector on funding and this is not a reality. Part of the process will be to change the dialogue to realistic options. A student from York University (who took only one hour to get downtown from the campus!) spoke as a suburbanite wanting to keep what they have.

    Does user pricing mean that we will segregate populations by tolls and distance-based transit fares? Where does local funding come in? Jennifer Keesmaat replied that The Big Move is looking region-wide, but we don t want to create unintended consequences.

    When we look at projects for Toronto, there may be a gap with what Metrolinx is doing, and planners need to work with Council on filling that gap for specific projects. We must avoid the consequences of selective application of revenue tools across the region. John Howe felt that regional benefits should be equitable without explaining just how this would be measured given that spending in one location may benefit residents elsewhere.

    In the GTA, there are 15,000 condos built each year representing a $40b investment over 10 years. The transit investments proposed are much smaller, relatively, than we are making this out to be. If the problem is $6b in lost economic activity, how do you solve this with only $2b in annual investment?

    Who will stand up and say this is not enough, let s spend $40b in the next 10 years. Carol Wilding replied that we need to get the money, and a different suite of tools is needed to get more. She noted that Los Angeles tried to accelerate its multi-decade program.

    Do we need to be more ambitious? John Howe replied that we need to manage expectations. We are not going to eliminate congestion, only manage it to a reasonable level.

    Toronto is seeing corridor development, but it should use buses, not surface rail. Users should pay through fares, and there should be higher gas tax. Carol Wilding replied that through consultations, the Board of Trade concluded that a combination of tools is needed.

    One user pay mechanism won t get us where we are going. The weak mayor system guarantees poor leadership and candidates. How do we get a discussion of this?

    Peter Milczyn replied that Council has all the discretion they need about how to spend. We have state of good repair and expansion issues, and these are better addressed on a regional basis than by individual municipalities. Michael Thompson warned that we must be careful what we wish for, that the wrong person could wind up in power.

    The Council system works, it is collegial, and members work through challenges. Thompson is not supportive of a strong mayor system. Twenty-five percent of the city is paved (roads, parking lots).

    Should there be a progressive gas tax to penalize cars? Jennifer Keesmat replied that it makes sense that users pay. Peter Milczyn noted that in some jurisdictions, a vehicle tax is based on engine size.

    John Howe cautioned that gas tax is not a robust revenue source as consumption is falling as people switch to more efficient vehicles. This is not necessarily a long term tool. Do politicians have to go against the oil industry to increase taxes on cars?

    Most folks would hate a toll, but if it is just added to their fuel bill it would be easier. Larry Beasley replied that gas tax is a damn good idea for the near future because it causes costs to the user and can shift demand. However, we should not fall into one source funding and need a robust bundle of tools.

    A Vancouver study showed that the public subsidy of cars amounts to about $2,700 per car per year. Is there the political will to address these cost, and what will Council do to reinstate the Vehicle Registration Tax? Michael Thompson replied that it was an absolute mistake to remove the VRT.

    Many of his residents didn t really mind paying it, but if asked should we get rid of it were more than happy for the savings. How will people be confident that there won t be a future rollback of transit revenues as a tax cut? Thompson replied that given the need for better transportation and funding tools, this is something we must not do.

    The mistake won t be made again at least not by me . Peter Milczyn argued that there will be a suite of new levies, but these will be dedicated to transportation. The old VRT went into general revenue, an error of the previous administration , and that a general tax generates general discontent.

    People will accept a specific tax. (I could not help thinking that if this is the fig leaf needed to get Ford supporters to embrace a Miller era tax, so be it.) There is a lack of cycling infrastructure. One quarter of the new revenue stream will go to local projects, but what proportion within this goes to active transportation? Jennifer Keesmaat replied that this is essential, and Peter Milczyn confirmed that this will be part of the overall Official Plan, and should be included in a mobility bill of rights.

    What will be the effects of the new tools on those with lower incomes, and what guarantee is there that businesses will pay too? Jennifer Keesmaat replied that on a regional basis the city has a high business assessment and this is a risk flagged by the commercial real estate industry. However, Toronto has very low property taxes and has more room on this side.

    Carol Wilding noted that this is an issue in addition to the ongoing migration of employment lands to residential use. Businesses are ready to pay their share, and the key is to avoid too much distortion in the market. Twenty five years ago, the same issues were being discussed at public meetings.

    The greatest concentration of development is downtown. What is being done about more capacity and the ability to get around? The Moscow syndrome is here already.

    People won t come downtown because of congestion. John Howe replied that The Big Move has advanced the relief line for more access to downtown, the UPX will provide a direct link to the airport by 2015, and the passenger concourse for GO at Union Station will be expanded to three times its current size. There are workers in skilled trades all over the city working on transit projects.

    They are having the same discussion about how to fund future projects and jobs. An educated workforce will support the politicians, and workers understand that they need to contribute to future jobs. By analogy to Los Angeles, will large infrastructure projects be used for job creation in at risk communities?

    Michael Thompson talked about the City of Toronto s strategy to bring young people into the trades through public projects. There is a lot of asking (consultation), but not a lot of telling (education) people about what is going on. Does Metrolinx have a plan to bring the public onside?

    John Howe talked about consultations now in progress including a residents reference panel. A public campaign through advertising will begin soon. Larry Beasley urged that education should not get lost in consultation.

    Conclusion The need for real movement on network planning and funding is beyond question except, possibly, to those misguided politicians who hate taxes and who prefer to play to those voters who can be sold a something-for-nothing view of the future.

    What is needed is for politicians at City Hall and at Queen s Park to focus on getting new revenue tools and credible plans in place rather than working on each other s defeat.

  • Finished Product | Cat Trucks As I get older I ve noticed I m also becoming quite a bit crankier. If this keeps up I m well on the way to becoming the kind of crusty old bloke who writes increasingly strident letters of complaint to the local council about the shape of his neighbour s shrubbery. I ve also found myself tut-tutting at the news and muttering about the youth of today or even asking the rhetorical question, doesn t anyone actually take responsibility for their actions anymore?

    It s a real worry. I ve been told the only real way to combat this is to buy quite a few cats and regularly wander up and down my street wearing a dressing gown and slippers and scaring local children with my facial hair. But hopefully I ve got quite a few more years up my sleeve yet before I have to resort to such drastic measures.

    THE EXTENDED CAB IS AN OBVIOUS CONTENDER FOR LINE-HAUL SHUTTLE DUTIES. FINALLY HERE In a world that seems to be increasingly complex, and that I seem to be finding more annoying by the day, the newly launched Cat CT630S from Navistar Auspac (formerly NC2) has a kind of simplicity and an honesty in its execution, that I find quite appealing. The S is the long awaited 26m B-double offering from Australia s youngest heavy-duty truck brand.

    The Cat family boasts a slippery shape and, as a consequence, controversial looks that tend to polarise opinions everywhere they go. It is also quite light with the extended cab taring off at 8,170kg dry. The range uses a Euro 5-compliant C15 engine that doesn t need exhaust gas regeneration (EGR) or selective catalytic reduction (SCR) to reduce its smog output.

    In other words it doesn t have an exhaust afterburner or need AdBlue. It s a no-nonsense approach to tackling some of the myriad challenges that Australian transport operators face in this day and age. I ll be the first to admit to having trouble with the face of the Cat family.

    In a market packed with square-jawed competitors, it looks a bit soft. In isolation it can look okay but when you park it at a truckstop among its competitors, it tends to stand out like a freshfaced newbie at a bikie club house brawl. Then again, if looks were everything, I d be a very lonely man and the one shared characteristic across the Cat range is that from behind the wheel they all perform very well indeed.

    THE AIR-SUSPENDED GRAMAG DRIVER S SEAT DID A GOOD JOB OF IRONING OUT JOLTS. OLD SCHOOL The current baby 13-litre CT610 and the 15-litre CT630 are based on the Navistar ProStar and they are both an engaging and rewarding drive as long as you re prepared to accept the old school American engineering mindset. The B-double S has been in the pipeline for quite some time and in a heavy-duty market dominated by east coast B-double vehicles it s been an obvious hole in the Cat line-up.

    Much of the design and engineering work during the development of the S was done here in Australia with the back-up of the Navistar design team back in the United States. The result is actually a uniquely Australian truck with Navistar ProStar underpinnings but with a short bumper to back of cab (BBC) that lends itself quite nicely to B-double duties. As you d expect, the engine is a 15-litre C15 power plant that cranks out 550 healthy Caterpillar ponies (404.5kW) and a torque figure of 1,850ft-lb (2,508Nm).

    Clinging to the rear of the 15-litre is an Eaton 18-speed available in either manual or UltraShift Plus automatic manual transmission guise. The rear axles are suspended exclusively by Hendrickson Primaax and final drive ratios from 3.9 to 4.1 and 4.33 are also available. A SECOND LOOK I should say at this point that I ve already driven the S, or an earlier incarnation of it.

    Late last year I took one of the engineering development trucks that were in service to a line-haul fleet for a trip from Melbourne to Brisbane and back again for a sneak peek. Being an engineering truck it was a bit rough around the edges, which is only to be expected. However, I did walk away with some concerns around the S models ride and handling as it seemed to be a bit all over the shop on the rough, rutted Newell Highway.

    But this truck was equipped with an earlier two-leaf spring front end that didn t help matters much, plus it was riding on a 4,600mm wheelbase with only 100mm of lead in on the trailer pin. All this in conjunction with what turned out to be a pretty dry turntable made it a bit of a handful on some sections of the road. More than six months later I find myself standing before a production version of the B-double shuffler.

    This time I m towing a set of counterweighted trailers grossing a shade over 60 tonnes and, yet again, I m Brisbane bound. This version is equipped with the standard three-leaf spring front end and is riding on a 4,800mm wheelbase, and just to ice the cake it was also running a 200mm lead in on the trailer pin. Within minutes of leaving Cat HQ in Tullamarine it was very apparent this was a very different beast on the road altogether.

    HAVING A GO Last time I d had to load and unload both ends and, heaven forbid, even work up a sweat. This time I only had to kick back and drive, but just to make the drive that little bit more challenging I invited my boss along for the ride. Owner//Driver Managing Editor Greg Bush is no stranger to trucking mags but he recently revealed he d never travelled the Newell in the cab of a truck.

    While it may seem complete madness to volunteer to spend two days trapped in a truck cab with my boss, that s exactly what I did. At this point in time the CT630S is available in day cab and extended cab form. The extended cab is an obvious contender for line-haul shuttle duties and regional work, but I ve now spent more nights than I d care to admit sleeping in that narrow 26-inch (66cm) bunk with no head room.

    Luckily a high rise walk-in sleeper version of the S called the SC is due to land in the country very soon and finally Cat will have a true line-haul contender for the Aussie market. CURVY CAB As with the rest of the range the curvy cab provides excellent visibility, and in the S it s almost possible to forget there s a bonnet out front at all. Being a bonneted truck, climbing aboard the S is an easy task involving a couple of easy steps.

    A gearstick that goes straight into the top of the tranny makes for a very sweet shifting box, especially considering the lazy revving nature of the yellow motor out front. This also makes for a very easy drive that doesn t have you watching the tacho. Anything over 1,550rpm is really just burning fuel and the 3.9 rear end of this truck meant it was ticking over at about 1,490rpm at the legal limit.

    Any rise in the road just meant a quick drop out of overdrive to get the jump on a grade. Sure the interior styling is an acquired taste, but it does have to be said most things are easily reached. The only grievance in the switch department is the headlight switch, which is obscured by the steering wheel, but a regular driver would settle in just fine.

    A constant niggle with these trucks for me is the lack of storage near the driver, something I hope will be addressed in the new SC model. In all the models in the Cat range, bar the LS, you always seem to end up with something rolling around on the cab floor. Another whinge would be the single power outlet.

    In this day and age most drivers would need at least two for charging phones, tablets, laptops etc. There is some under bunk storage under the cot but no exterior locker doors, which is another gripe. ONCE BITTEN Unfortunately the bed floor and locker lid feels a bit cheap and flimsy with quite a few sharp edges I ve been bitten by it on more than one occasion.

    This sets off a chain reaction of me jamming my finger on the catch of the storage locker lid, then swearing, then whacking my head on the low roof of the truck, then swearing, then tripping over the gear stick, then swearing I m sure you get the idea. Thankfully this is another area that is reportedly being addressed with the SC model. The first day of the trip involved a lot of fog until the sun emerged between Jerilderie and Narrandera.

    By then I d settled in easily and was watching the countryside roll by. The 15-litre is a very present, yet pleasant soundtrack but not intrusively so and the tune played by the twin choofers out back is unmistakably a Caterpillar song. Hitting the Jake brake to pull back some speed brings out a note that would bring a smile to the face of anyone with a fondness for big yank engines.

    As darkness fell between Forbes and Dubbo, I flicked on the LED headlights. I ve waxed lyrical enough about these in the past, so I won t crap on too much. Suffice to say, they re good and I m a convert.

    NABBED BY THE LAW There was some debate in the cab as to the exact location of Wyalong as opposed to West Wyalong. Apparently we were heading north-east into West Wyalong before heading east and then north and then north-east out of West Wyalong. But just northeast of West Wyalong we ran afoul of the law and operation Austrans.

    As I handed over my logbook to the Highway Patrol I tried the old Don t you people know who I am? only to be greeted with a blank and slightly hostile stare. Some wiring for a data logger under the dash also attracted attention from the Roads and Maritime Services as I attempted to explain what it was and what it did.

    Finally, they got sick of me parroting their patronising tone and waved me away. After an overnight camp in Dubbo we prepared to head north. Our truck had only just clicked over 8,000km and the engine felt that new on the drag through the hills south of Coonabarabran.

    The tight new engine didn t lug down like it should have, but I ve no doubt another 50,000km under its belt would tell a different story. LINE-HAUL SPRAWL As the highway deteriorated, the ride and handling of the Cat came to the fore. There are plenty of plush riding, prime movers on the market but get onto an inland highway in Australia and I ll be putting my hand up for a bonneted prime mover.

    The steep camber, soft rutted road surface and broken edges of our inland roads can make for a long and tiring trip when wrestling with a soggy riding truck that keeps the steering wheel in constant motion. Leaning into the camber of the road with one elbow on the door is the traditional line-haul sprawl driving position of inland Australia and only a handful of heavy-duty trucks really nail a comfortable driving position on crap roads for hours on end. Most of these trucks have bonnets and if my drive in the S is anything to go by the new Cat platform is one of them.

    The three-point cab suspension also takes out some of the lateral kick from the road and the air-suspended Gramag driver s seat did a good job of ironing out jolts from the road surface. However, with the Newell s bumps and ruts, Bushy thought he d spent two days in a jumping castle, although the Gramag s passenger seat gave him a soft landing each time. Foot well room is fine for someone of my stature but others may find the lack of room for their left foot a bit of an issue.

    With the sun sinking below the horizon we rolled down Cunninghams Gap with the Jake brake thundering. On the descent, and not for the first time during the trip, it really hit me just how easy and uncomplicated this truck is to drive. It s astonishing really that Cat has been able to come up with a truck that seems so at home on Aussie roads in such a short period of time, the brand itself is not yet five years old.

    Maybe I m turning into a crazy old cat dude quicker than I thought. TUNES IN THE CAB OR HIGHWAY TO HELL? The premium touchscreen stereo unit in the cab was actually pretty easy to use while on the move.

    Bluetooth connectivity didn t have me scratching my head too much either. With Bushy riding shotgun, he felt it was time to educate me on a few things musical; he even got some old Jethro Tull cranking. The speaker system seemed to handle the punishment without any buzzing or rattles.

    But with both of us in the truck we just had to have a crack at a duet. We rolled through the streets of Narrandera with Highway to Hell blasting and Bushy helping out on both air guitar and air drums. As I was getting over a cold, I mainly just coughed and sniffled through the whole affair.

    It was ugly on a number of levels. I also liked the way that a sexy female voice announces incoming calls when your phone is connected to the unit via Bluetooth. It made me want to keep calling Bushy s phone with mine so stereo lady would keep saying my name over and over again as we were driving, but maybe that would have been getting a bit weird.

    Story By Matt Wood OWD June 2014

  • Fixing truck jams in East and West Africa 501818308 | The Africa ... Regulations, cartels and crumbling infrastructure raise the cost and delivery times of imports and exports across the continent. New railway plans will help to bring more competition to the transport sector. Pity the East African truck driver, upon whose weary shoulders lies the bur den of East Africa's exports.

    Setting forth from Mombasa to Kigali on a route known as the Northern Corridor, he will negotiate the arduous 1,700km journey over five days. He will be on the road for 13 hours between 4.30am and 8pm each day, crawling at an average speed of 53km per hour over an uphill landscape set on some of the most tortuous roads on Earth. Aside from stopping for long hours at two border posts, he will encounter another 45 roadblocks where he will be forced to cough up an average of $158 per trip in bribes.

    There are also numerous detours caused by road repairs and construction, and even more delays to wait for accidents to be cleared. The East African Community found in 2008 that 95% of East Africa's cargo is transported by road. In addition, more business is being done within the region, increasing traffic and creating new forms of delay.

    In Kenya alone, say transporters, there are more than 10,000 long-haul trucks plying the roads. Of the big Kenyan transporters, the likes of R.K. Sanghani, A.O.

    Bayusuf and Sons, and Multiple Hauliers boast fleets of between 300 and 1,000 trucks. Even with improved fleets, regional regulations that limit axle-load weights mean more trucks, increased road maintenance costs and the slowing down of delivery times. Five years ago, the Rwandan government commissioned a study of the Northern Corridor.

    A Diagnostic Survey of the Kigali-Mombasa Transport Corridor found that 60% of the journey is spent on the side of the road and that bribes at roadblocks are small but numerous. The biggest sources of delays were what happened before and after the journey due to Rwanda's limited truck availability, slow import/export procedures and cargo-handling problems. Despite this, World Bank studies praised Rwanda's deregulation of the haulage industry in 1994, when the end of the monopoly of state-owned company haulier Soci t de Transport International au Rwanda led prices to drop by 75% in real terms.

    Middlemen and Mafia In West Africa, delays and high costs are caused by the stranglehold of middlemen. In C te d'Ivoire, a hub for transporting goods to landlocked Burkina Faso and Mali, a group of businessmen maintain a tight grip on the sector. They represent shadowy interests linked, some officials told The Africa Report , to Corsican families.

    Ivorian cashew farmer Moussa Traor had a problem getting his produce to Burkina Faso twice a week. The 1,120km journey cost 1.2m CFA francs ($2,400) per trip. "That price is clearly not going to be affordable for most small-time business owners. I tried asking different operators, but the cost was always the same.

    Eventually, I realised what it boiled down to was price fixing," he said. "They know the trucks that are in a good state," Traor explained. "When I tried to get around the prices they offered, I found the only trucks willing to take my goods were in a pitiful condition, had very few clients and unreliable drivers." These trucks did not have Global Positioning System trackers, a major headache for any client, he added. Creaking roads and poor maintenance ruled them out of many rural areas during the rainy season. Traor returned to "the very first middleman I visited there are no real alternatives to road transport. " The soaring cost of transporting goods on West Africa's roads remains among the highest in the world, curbing investment and preventing progress in a sector in which a plethora of small-time and inefficient owner-operators are the only alternative to expensive multinationals.

    No negotiation USAID West Africa Trade Hub, which works to improve conditions for the region's exporters, estimates that in Ghana only four or five large companies, such as the Global Haulage Company, focus solely on trucking. Company owners say that many transporters operate informally, making it difficult to identify and fix problems that keep costs so high. A 2008 study by the Africa Infrastructure Country Diagnostic said the root of the problem was clear: 'Deregulating the trucking industry in West and Central Africa is less a technical than a political and social issue.' The report argued: 'Whenever competition does exist, it is not based on price and quality of service, but on the capacity to circumvent the rules and capture loads with little or no negotiation on prices or services quality.' In Nigeria, for example, a lack of political connections means the risk of, as one company owner explained, "haggling for a week over a $10 bribe just to get your container on the road".

    Poorly integrated markets and language barriers also contribute to the problem in West Africa. Much-touted plans to upgrade the Abidjan Lagos corridor have also faltered amid wrangling on bilateral agreements. Infrastructure deficits also play a part.

    An official from Dangote Group, which runs a haulage business of more than 5,000 trucks under the brand DanTrans, estimated that upgrading roads in Nigeria could translate into a 5%-10% reduction in costs. In East Africa, a major factor associated with increased cargo costs is the region's largely moribund railways. It is only now that landlocked Rwanda is planning a national railway network.

    The Kenya-Uganda railway that opened up the region to the rest of the world 110 years ago has been in a critical condition for decades. "Even if you had the railway in working order, because it is a linear route rather than spread out across the region, you would still need trucks to move goods from the terminals to the final destination," explains one Nairobi-based transporter. Last year, Egyptian private equity firm Citadel Capital sunk $300m into Rift Valley Railways, the operator of the Kenya-Uganda railway. The funds are to be devoted to upgrading the rolling stock and "getting the trains to run on time", emphasised Citadel's managing director Karim Sadek.

    Once fully implemented, Citadel's plans could cut haulage costs by 40% and usher in the long-delayed migration from road haulage to rail, offering a long-term solution to East Africa's perennial transport crisis

  • Frack Trucker Kills Boy on Bike That s right, the same frack truck company 3 Star Daylighting that was caught on a video earlier this week dumping frackwaste on a Fort Worth freeway - ran over a boy last August while driving to a Chesapeake frack site . The frack truck driver said he didn t know he hit the boy. Right.

    Boy s name was Deston Bibbs. Add him to the List of the Harmed . How much of this fracking nonsense do you want in your town ?

    BY BILL MILLER [email protected] FORT WORTH Investigators believe a fracking wastewater truck fatally struck a teenage bike rider in far south Fort Worth in April and have concluded there is no evidence that the driver knew what happened, police reported this week, since the driver told police he didn t know he hit the boy and the police believe him. Deston Bibbs, 14, died at 11:15 a.m. at John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth, the Tarrant County medical examiner reported.

    Deston was hit while riding a bike about 9:20 p.m. at the intersection of Sycamore School and Crowley roads. At first, detectives in the police traffic investigation unit did not know who struck the boy because the driver did not stop and no witnesses came forward.

    But, based on video taken by a red-light camera at the intersection, they narrowed the possibilities to an 18-wheeler belonging to frack waste hauler 3-Star Daylighting. Matt Barton, safety manager for 3-Star Daylighting, said the company would have no comment. The findings were described in a summary released Thursday by police.

    The detective who wrote the summary was not identified. The findings describe how police viewed video taken by security cameras at nearby businesses. But none showed the collision, though detectives got a break with video from a red-light camera.

    Several vehicles can be seen making the right turn without any pause or hesitation, the detective said in the summary. Approximately halfway through the video, an 18-wheeler (commonly referred to as a frack truck ) can be seen making the right turn to head southbound on South Crowley Road. About 40 seconds later, a woman can be seen parking her car to investigate what she thought was a wheelchair left in the roadway, the detective wrote.

    She soon realized that it was a young child and she immediately called 911 and attempted to get help from the nearby vehicles, the detective said. The Fort Worth chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, a national civil rights group, publicly objected to the findings early Saturday morning. We believe the only way the driver could not have known he ran over a child on a bike was because he was not paying attention, Rev.

    Kyev Tatum, the group s president, said in a statement. Negligence is not an excuse to kill a child. The group wants the truck driver s name and driving history to be released.

    We are left with more questions than answers. We are requesting an independent federal investigation, Tatum said. Chesapeake Energy has a gas well site in the 3600 block of Sycamore School Road.

    Investigators learned that it was serviced that night by 3-Star Daylighting LP Trucking company. Upon seeing the 18-wheeler, and comparing the tire tread marks left on the clothing of Mr. Bibbs, it was immediately apparent that the tire tread matched the clothing marks, the detective wrote.

    Investigators believe that Bibbs had been riding east through a field parallel to Sycamore School road. The truck, also eastbound, was in the far right lane preparing to turn south onto Crowley Road. As the teen attempted to turn north onto Crowley Road, the truck was turning south, according to the summary.

    The truck hit Deston, knocking him down and then driving over his body, according to the detective. The summary stated, the detective questioned the driver who said he was unaware that he had hit anything and provided a written statement stating as much. (Meaning he lied in writing, at the advice of his attorney, to get out of a vehicular manslaughter charge. . . ) Deston was a seventh-grader at H.F. Stevens Middle School in Crowley, according to his obituary.

    by MONIKA DIAZ WFAA Posted on August 1, 2013 at 11:03 PM Updated Wednesday, Oct 30 at 10:14 AM Tagged as: frack fatality, fracking waste

  • Freight Consolidator Cardinal Maritime - Golf Day results The sun shone again for the 6th annual Cardinal golf day at Mottram Hall Hotel on Friday 7th September. There were plenty of good scores with lots of birdies but plenty of bogies. The overall winner of the customer prize was Gareth Chennells with a very creditable 38 points.

    The staff prize was fiercely contested this year with Brian Hay and Andrew Smithurst tying on 36 points. In the end Andrew took the trophy with a better back 9. The celebrations went on long into the evening and a good time was had by all.

    We are already in the advanced stages of organising next year s event which will take place in September 2013 at a venue to be confirmed.

    We are possibly looking at Birmingham next year as the venue so please contact us if you are interested in attending by calling Chris Bartram on 0161 492 1778 or emailing [email protected]

  • Freight Interests' Dire Predictions About Road Diets Not Borne Out ... As Fizz reported yesterday, freight and manufacturing interests in SODO and Georgetown oppose the city's plans to add bike lanes and pedestrian facilities to Airport Way S. and East Marginal Way, arguing that removing any capacity for trucks would devastate freight mobility in the city. At a Port of Seattle-sponsored forum this past Monday, longshore union representative Harold Ugles said, What we re trying to do is prevent gridlock, because gridlock drives away the jobs, it pisses off the public, and it s a problem for everybody.

    However, two studies by the Seattle Department of Transportation indicate that neither Airport Way nor East Marginal Way are actually major conduits for freight---confirming what neighborhood leaders, who generally support the road diets, have been saying all along. On East Marginal Way, the city has proposed reducing the number of lanes from six to four, plus a turning lane. On Airport, it would add bus bulbs and reconfigure parking to improve pedestrian safety.

    Here's what the city studies found: On Airport Way, "Traffic volume... has dropped approximately 36% since 1961," when I-5 opened, yet "the configuration of the surface streets has not changed." Moreover, freight traffic makes up just 10 percent of all traffic on the road, contradicting freight interests' claims that the road is a major corridor for freight. On East Marginal Way, "Traffic volume ...

    has dropped approximately 44 percent" since 1961, and freight traffic makes up just 11 percent of all traffic on the street.

    Those facts---that traffic is shrinking and that freight hardly uses either road in the first place--- strongly contradict freight interests' claims that the road is a major corridor for freight and that reducing their capacity for cars and trucks will result in "job loss" and "gridlock."

  • G

  • Gov.

    Tom Corbett's transportation plan looks like a conversation ... By Charles Thompson|[email protected] & Jan Murphy|[email protected] As much as it s been wanted, Gov. Tom Corbett s transportation funding package wasn t exactly loved to death Tuesday. Some lawmakers said it wasn t enough.

    Others worried about how much it could cost consumers at the pump. Others acknowledged that it will take full bipartisan cooperation, something the Pennsylvania General Assembly hasn t been great at in recent years. But don t be fooled.

    The need for more transportation funding remains a high priority of many in the Legislature. And while most weren t ready to endorse Corbett s plan completely today, everyone acknowledged it is an issue that is ripe for discussion and they signaled a willingness to work on it. As the governor laid out his plan to lawmakers in his budget address to a joint session of the Legislature, Democrats sat on their hands and some Republicans reacted with tepid applause.

    Rep. Glen Grell, R-Hampden Twp., said that was more a result of unfamiliarity with details of the plan more so than outright opposition. "There's no doubt many of my constituents support the idea of dedicating some more funding to fix our roads and bridges," he said. "But until we get a better handle for the impact on consumers, we have to hold our enthusiasm in check a little bit." Corbett s plan rests on one key proposal from a transportation funding advisory commission he put together at the start of his term: lifting a cap built into a longstanding tax on fuel at the wholesale level. Removing that lid on the so-called oil company tax in the three steps that Corbett proposes over the next five years would generate nearly $2 billion in new funds annually by 2018, when the cap would be totally eliminated.

    That s based on current pricing levels. "It is time for oil and gas companies to pay their fair share of the cost of the infrastructure supporting their industry," Corbett said in his budget address. "Our most costly option would be to do nothing. It will cost us in repairs, it will cost us in rebuilding, and it could cost us in tragedies we might have avoided." Pain at the pump? The great mystery is how much of that cost will be passed onto the consumer.

    The plan, as proposed, does not contain any mechanism to prohibit that. And when the funding commission released its 2011 report, the going estimate was that it could cost as much as 20 cents per gallon of gas, if distributors and retailers passed that entire tab onto motorists. Corbett s Transportation Secretary Barry Schoch said Tuesday the cause-effect relationship there is not so clear, given the many other factors that drive the price of a gallon of gasoline, including the price of crude oil and refinery costs.

    I don t know any more than you do, any more than we re all going to be able find out, Schoch said. Even so, Corbett s plan attempts to offset some anticipated retail gas price increases, as the governor has proposed a one penny cut in the state s retail gas tax in each of the next two years. The plan would net $1.8 billion annually by year five.

    Some wondered if that was too little, too late. Senate Transportation Committee Chairman John Rafferty, R-Montgomery County, said, We re going to do transportation. We re not going to do transportation-lite.

    He said he could support the governor s plan with one exception. He didn t like the five-year phase-in of the uncapping of the oil franchise tax. He wanted it lifted sooner to generate money quicker.

    We have a construction season we got to get going, Rafferty said. We got 4,000 structurally deficient bridges and we got roads in need of repair. We have to protect the welfare of our children.

    I heard that over and over again. They re the same ones riding across those bridges and roadways. Rafferty plans to unveil his own transportation funding plan this spring.

    He hinted that his plan includes many of the ideas included in the governor s transportation funding advisory commission that would generate $2.7 billion a year. That commission suggested higher fees for driver s licenses and vehicle registrations and shifting some state police costs now charged to the motor license fund to the state s general fund to free up those dollars for roadwork. Schoch said he is open to dialogue but given the traditional difficulty in getting major transportation packages passed, his main concern was finding a sweet spot where we get action on this.

    What we don t want to do is have something that some believe is high enough and others might say it s too high, I m not going to vote for it, Schoch said. Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Jake Corman, R-Centre County, said he didn t have a magic number for what he wanted the transportation funding plan to raise. But Corman, whose district includes Perry County, echoed the need to seize the momentum and get the best plan possible passed this year.

    They re obviously not easy to get done, Corman said. So let s have a bill that solves the problem so we don t have to come back in three, four, five years and do it again. Praise and skepticism Outside the Legislature, Corbett was drawing raves for finally starting the discussion.

    Robert Latham, executive vice president of Associated Pennsylvania Constructors, a road builders trade group, said, The most important thing is that the governor has rolled out a comprehensive transportation plan that s workable. ... It s the first time that we ve seen that in 16 years so I think you ve got to give Governor Corbett credit for that. James Runk, president and CEO of the Pennsylvania Motor Truck Association, a trade association of trucking companies, said, At first blush it s a good idea.

    It s timely and we should move on it and not miss another construction season. Back at the Capitol, there remained some skeptics who needed to know more about the impact on motorists and possibly wait for some poll results to be sure they re on firm ground to flirt with any gas price when the going rate is $3.65 a gallon. I want to know what the cost to consumers is going to be before we make a definitive decision, said House Majority Leader Mike Turzai, R-Allegheny.

    I don t think by any means the governor s proposal is necessarily the definitive proposal. That s one opinion that was shared across the aisle by another House member who said he believes more money is needed. Rep.

    Mike Hanna, D-Clinton, described Corbett s transportation plan as a lemon and a bridge to nowhere. He said lowering the gas tax and then lifting the cap on the oil company tax was nothing more than a gimmick aimed to appease tea party favorite Grover Norquist whose no-tax-increase pledge Corbett signed when campaigning for governor in 2010. Governor Corbett s gas tax fiasco falls short of what is needed.

    It s disappointing to see such a lack of courage from this governor, Hanna said.

    Staff writer Robert Vickers contributed to this article.

  • Gunman, boss in Fla.

    shooting were once close - abc27 WHTMBy DEREK KINNER Associated Press LAKE BUTLER, Fla. (AP) - A longtime employee of a Florida trucking company was once very close with his former boss, even described as his right-hand man. But police say Hubert Allen Jr. drove around Saturday and shot former co-workers and his onetime boss, killing the ex-employer and another man before turning a gun on himself.

    On Sunday, residents in this close-knit community near Jacksonville mourned and tried to piece together what happened. Police didn't release any new details or information on a possible motive. "Mr. Hubert was a real quiet guy," said the Rev.

    Patrick Maxwell of the Victory Christian Center. "He wasn't the type who would go around and say I have a grudge against anyone." Maxwell said he visited Allen's daughter and grandchildren after the shootings. The family was as surprised as the rest of the town and had no idea what sparked the shootings, Maxwell said. Allen's wife died in the late 1990s and he lived alone.

    Maxwell said he had developed a serious heart disease and his church had prayed for him recently. Allen, 72, didn't attend the church, but his daughter and grandchildren did. It wasn't yet clear why Allen stopped working for Pritchett Trucking Inc.

    On Saturday, Allen drove to a location owned by his former boss, Marvin Pritchett. He shot and killed former co-worker Rolando Gonzalez-Delgado, 28, around 9 a.m., then went a short distance and killed Pritchett, 80, who founded the company in 1980. A few minutes later, Allen pulled over where another former co-worker was driving a farm tractor, exchanged words with him and fired a shotgun, authorities said.

    The victim, 66-year-old Lewis Mabrey Jr., was in good condition Sunday, hospital spokeswoman Nickie Doria said. Allen then went to the company's headquarters in Lake Butler and shot 44-year-old David Griffis in the stomach, the sheriff's office said. Griffis was in critical condition Sunday.

    Allen killed himself at his nearby home. It was clear to everyone in town that Allen and Pritchett had a good relationship at one point. "You had the assumption, no, the conviction, that they were close," Maxwell said. Pritchett grew up in Union County and was constantly involved in businesses, from gas stations to truck companies to his beloved farm, Rolling Oaks.

    Residents said he was known around town as Mr. P, a generous man who gave to charitable groups and projects and treated his employees well. "He arrived at work before anyone else. He was always there for his employees," Bill Thomas, who worked as a dispatcher for Pritchett for several years, said outside Pritchett's longtime church, First Christian.

    As Thomas spoke, the church bell, which can be heard across town, rang. "He was instrumental in that, too," he said, explaining that Pritchett helped finance the new bell. The church prepared for a prayer service Sunday evening. The Rev.

    Art Peterson said he met with Pritchett's family and counseled them. "It's rough. They're still in a state of shock, but they're coping," he said. Thomas, who left the trucking company six years ago, said he used to see Allen around often, overseeing Pritchett's farm. "He was always Mr.

    P.'s right-hand man," Thomas said. But it had been several years since he had seen Allen, he said. Thomas said Allen was the great-grandfather of NFL running back C.J.

    Spiller, who started a game for the Buffalo Bills on Saturday night despite the shootings. Thomas said Allen had an influence on Spiller's life. "I believe he had a lot to do with C.J.'s upbringing. In the South, families are very close, and grandparents are around every day," Thomas said. "C.J.

    is a fine young man and, like I said, Hubert was a fine man. I have no idea why he did what he did. It just blows my mind." Spiller was born in Lake Butler and was a star at Union County High School.

    After the game against the Washington Redskins, a Bills representative stood at Spiller's locker and said the running back would have no comment. On Sunday, flags flew at half-staff at the trucking company's headquarters. The company's website said it employs 400 people and owns hundreds of vehicles that operate around the country.

    Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.

    All rights reserved.

    This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • H

  • Has the U.S.

    Reached Peak Car?

    naked capitalism Yves here. This post is a workmanlike compilation of trends in the driving habits of Americans. Some of the data shows that use of public transportation has been rising faster than population growth yet budget stresses mean those services are regularly targeted for fare increases and schedule cutbacks.

    Having never owned a car, and hoping to remain in that category, I wish I saw a more concerted push towards rethinking zoning and development to encourage more density and thus more walking (which gives you a twofer: more active citizens and less gas usage). Perhaps readers will point out some examples, but it seems that this sort of change has been relegated to the category of environmentalist dreaming rather than a goal to be taken seriously. By Matt Smith, an analyst who blogs at Energy Burrito.

    Cross posted from OilPrice There have been a number of recent research reports addressing the notion of Peak Car whether driving has peaked per person in the US. So here are a bunch of interesting tidbits and nuggets I have gleaned from the reports A New Direction and Has Motorization in the US Peaked? , as well as an update on miles driven .it s all downhill from here. Pedal to the Metal From the end of World War II to 2004 (known as the Driving Boom ), Americans drove more miles nearly every year The driving boom coincided with the Baby Boom a bubble of those born between 1946 and 1964 By 2004, the average American was driving 85% more miles than in 1970 Between 1980 and 2010, freeway capacity (measured in lane-miles) expanded by 35% Hitting The Brakes The peak driving age group is that of 35-54 year-olds The total number of 35-54 year-olds is set to tail off by the end of this decade Meanwhile, the share of the population of those 65 and older is set to increase dramatically by 2040 In 1980, the age group of 65 and older made up 11% of the population.

    By 2040 this share is expected to reach 21% By 1992, 90% of the driving age population could drive, but by 2011 this had fallen to 86% the lowest level in 30 years In 2011, 67% of 16-34 year-olds had a license, the lowest level since at last 1963 Inflation-adjusted gasoline prices have doubled in the last decade Young people aged 16 -34 drove 23% fewer miles in 2009 than in 2001 From 2001 2009, the number of passenger miles travelled by those aged 16-34 on public transport increased 40% Americans took nearly 10% more trips via public transportation in 2011 than in 2005 Driving It Home The absolute number of cars peaked in 2008, at 236.4 million This translates to nearly 2 vehicles per household, over 1 car per licensed driver, and 0.75 vehicles per person Although The Great Recession is likely to blame for the drop-off in vehicles since 2008, a growing population (increasing 11% from 2011 to 2025) means we will likely see a higher number of vehicles on the road in the future.

    Conclusion Although we may not have peaked in terms of total vehicles in the US, we have likely peaked in terms of Peak Car aka miles driven per person.

    Whether this slow-down is due to telecommuting, changing demographics, higher fuel costs, online shopping, or increased use of public transport, the evidence points to a turning tide in terms of miles driven: Thanks for playing, and keep on trucking or don t, as the case may be

  • Here There Be Alligators: In the rivers and swamps of Mississippi ... Alligators are best hunted at night, when they are most active, and for a while Turner s hunting party sat in darkness, shining a spotlight along the water, waiting. When it resurfaced, it sounded like a whale, Turner said. They turned and saw it, as wide as an office desk, behind the boat.

    It stayed up long enough to draw a breath, then went under again and acted as the 17 and a half foot long boat s pilot as it moved through its underwater world, pulling the four hunters along. It emerged several times to breathe, then would disappear again and tighten the line. A man holding a rod and reel with a hook embedded in an alligator dictates nothing.

    He only holds on. These hunters did so for two hours. The last time the alligator came up its mouth was open and it bit at the boat s gunwale.

    One of the hunters picked up a .410 bore shotgun, aimed at the back of the animal s head and squeezed the trigger. Not long after that, after three other hunters in the area came over to help, the group dragged its dead body onto a sandbar. Turner told me it was then that he knew they had got a giant.

    It was as long as two men and went on the books at 741.5 pounds, the heaviest caught in Mississippi history. They loaded it into the boat and traveled the river toward a ramp, where they put the boat on a truck trailer and drove to Canton, Miss. A biologist with the state s Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks checked the alligator s size the following day.

    It was as long as two men and went on the books at 741.5 pounds, the heaviest caught in Mississippi history. Alligators are predatory, cannibalistic and efficient hunters. They move deliberately and have armor-like skin.

    Their jaws are traps. In terms of the food chain, in the swamps and waterways where they live, nothing looks down on them. Occupying a stretch of the country between Texas and the Carolinas and farther south, the reptiles are the same as those that once shared space with dinosaurs more than 150 million years ago.

    Their brains would fit in a tablespoon, and unless bothered, they are relatively quiet. They can live longer than 50 years. When I first heard about what Turner caught, my imagination got away from me.

    I had this haunting vision of it floating in that bayou every night for a half-century, hunting its prey. Sitting in my office cubicle, wearing loafers, this unsettled me. Not long after that, Dr.

    Francisco Villa, a biologist at Mississippi State University, told me alligators typically eat turtles, fish, crabs, birds, beavers and raccoons. Then he added, Pretty much anything that swims by and they can handle. And I pictured a 700-pounder ripping my arm off at the shoulder. *** Beth Trammell with the 723.5-pound male alligator her party captured. (Photo courtesy of Beth Trammell) I am from Mississippi.

    Old rivers bracket the state. The Mississippi runs down the western border, the Tombigbee meanders along the eastern side, and minor rivers and creeks crisscross the middle. Alligators live in almost all of them.

    When I was young, our parents let us teenage boys loose in these rivers and creeks. A perfect spot had a sandy bottom and decent current. But if pine straw caked the bottom and the water grew green and stagnant near the bank, no one cared.

    In the heat of summer, the swimming holes were always cool. We went to Black Creek, Bogue Homa Creek, Okatoma Creek and the Bouie River. When we got old enough to drive we left our parents behind, but still cut paths to creeks, usually with six-packs of beer.

    At Shelton Creek, a flat, natural rock surface spread out beside a shaded pool of deep, dark, cool water. This became my favorite spot. The unknown attracts us all and on many Saturdays I caught my breath and let my hands use the rock to push me farther and farther down into the water.

    I wanted to reach the bottom, to feel what was deep and untouched, but can t recall ever making it. No one worried about alligators. Today, I live beside the Tombigbee in the northeast corner of the state, where there are fewer alligators than in the southern end.

    Still, a game warden told me if someone went on the Tombigbee near my home at night with a flashlight, it would be nothing to find 50 or 60 pairs of alligator eyes glowing back. Fishermen see them all the time. I am not much of a fisherman.

    But the closest I have ever come to a wild alligator, as far as I know, was one day in the mid-1990s when my father and I put his boat into Lake Columbia, in southwest Mississippi, and went fishing for bass. We started at daybreak. By midday we had no luck and decided to try the lake s far side, where a forest met the water s edge and where we had seen no one fishing that day.

    While coming toward a cut of land that jutted out into the water, I saw what looked like an old, black garbage bag on the shoreline. The sun shone off of it in a dull way that made me think it had been there a while. It looked wet and had odd angles, like it was twisted.

    About the time I shut the motor off and we began coasting, I realized it was not a bag but an alligator, probably 8 feet long and as wide as a car tire in the middle. We were heading straight toward it. it came over me that there was something powerful and out of our control in the water and my blood pressure rose.

    For a few moments that alligator sat stone-still as our boat moved silently through the water. It was sunning itself. We got close enough to see that its eyes were open.

    Then, without warning, it moved with a frog s sudden grace, running itself off the shoreline into the water in front of the boat and disappearing. There was hardly a splash. I was mesmerized.

    My father was not. He said over his shoulder, Go. When I did not, his voice grew more direct and forceful, and he said, Get us out of here.

    It wouldn t be nothing for that thing to turn this boat over. With that, it came over me that there was something powerful and out of our control in the water and my blood pressure rose. Tasting fear, I cranked the motor and we left.

    I did not look back, but my thoughts were where it had gone, under the water. Somewhere, that alligator was gliding away. I was sure its eyes were looking up.

    Turner caught his alligator in south Mississippi. Because it was the fifth record-setting catch during Mississippi s 10-day annual alligator season, and because of the menacing place alligators hold in our minds, the news spread far and fast. Media outlets around the world ran stories with pictures.

    The words monster and beast were in the headlines. Australia and Canada called. England and China called.

    The world knew of the vast Mississippi River, but had never considered the enormous gators that lived under its surface. In the middle of the ruckus, Ricky Flynt, an alligator expert with the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks, spoke on camera with a TV station. He is an earnest man, with a serious manner, and toward the end of his interview, while footage of Turner s alligator rolled, he said, I believe we ve got alligators in Mississippi in the 900- to 1,000-pound range.

    Whether an alligator hunter can be successful in getting them in is another story. It sounded like a challenge, but a warning, too. *** Hunting Regulations 1 Persons eligible: Only residents of the State of Mississippi who are sixteen (16) years of age or older may apply for an Alligator Possession Permit. Non-residents may participate as alligator hunting assistants.

    2 Bag limit: Each person receiving an Alligator Possession Permit will be allowed to harvest two (2) alligators four (4) feet in length or longer, only one (1) of which may exceed seven (7) feet in length.

    3 Capture and Dispatch Methods: a. Use of bait or baited hooks is prohibited. b.

    Alligators must be captured alive prior to shooting or otherwise dispatching the animal. It is unlawful to kill an unrestrained alligator. c.

    Restrained is defined as an alligator that has a noose or snare secured around the neck or leg in a manner that the alligator is controlled. d. Capture methods are restricted to hand-held snares, snatch hooks, harpoons, and bowfishing equipment.

    e. The use of fishing lures or other devices (with hooks attached) for the purpose of catching alligators in the mouth is prohibited. f.

    All alligators must be dispatched or released immediately after capture and prior to being transported. g. Any alligator that is captured with a harpoon or bowfishing equipment must be reduced to the bag and may not be released.

    h. Firearms used for dispatching an alligator are restricted to long-barreled, shoulder-fired shotguns with shot size no larger than No.

    6 and bangsticks chambered in .38 caliber or larger. No pistols are allowed.

    i. All shotguns and bangsticks must be cased and unloaded at all times until a restraining line has been attached to the alligator. j.

    No other firearm or ammunition may be in possession of the permittee or hunting party. Catching an alligator Estimate its length The snout length (the distance between the nostrils and the front of the eyes) in inches can be translated into feet to estimate the total body length. Capture it The use of bait and hook is illegal.

    Legal methods: Snatch Hooks (hand thrown or rod/reel), Harpoon (with attached line and/or buoy), Snare (hand or pole type), Bowfishing equipment (with attached line and/or buoy). Dispatch it Use a shotgun or bangstick once the alligator is restrained and controlled with a snare. To safely and humanely dispatch the alligator, aim for the center of the spine directly behind the skull plate.

    Information via the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks (source, source) As long as people and alligators have shared Mississippi, there have been people who hunted the creatures. Spanish explorers called them el lagarto , which means the lizard, and that morphed into what we call them today. The Choctaw believed an alligator told the creator the best water was where cypress trees grew in bayous, so the creator placed the alligator there.

    Native Americans saw them as mysterious, respected hunters. In a northern Mississippi plain in the 1930s, an archaeologist was poking around a native burial ground when he found the remains of a human skeleton covered with turtle shells. On top of it all was an alligator skull.

    In the late 1960s, because of illegal hunting, they were an endangered species. In an effort to replenish their numbers, and to help control the beaver population, Mississippi wildlife officials drove horse trailers loaded with 3,500 baby alligators from Louisiana to the Mississippi State Fairgrounds. The babies were handed out in bags to landowners, who took them across the state and released them into the waters.

    It worked. By the late 1980s, they were no longer endangered. The last census, in 2000, suggested there were roughly 48,000 in the state s fresh water.

    That was a conservative estimate, Flynt said, and it is safe to assume there are even more today. They are prevalent enough that the state legislature gave the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks the specific authority to deal with alligators. Flynt says the agency gets 300 to 500 phone calls a year.

    since 2005, the state has allowed its residents a few days each year to kill them. The program mainly handles what it calls nuisance alligators, which for the most part are young alligators that sometimes wander into backyard swimming pools or neighborhood ditches. Still, they routinely attack dogs and other pets that roam near water because of their resemblance to their natural prey.

    Yes, a gator will grab a dog if one ends up in their dining room, a wildlife official said. For most of the year, it is still illegal to possess or hunt alligator. But since 2005, the state has allowed its residents a few days each year to kill them.

    Almost everyone in Mississippi is a hunter of some sort, and the alligator hunts are open to the public. There are a limited number of permits given out via an application process and far more people apply than receive them. It is not uncommon for applicants to wait several years between hunts.

    The men and women randomly chosen fan out across the state in groups because one person, acting alone, cannot catch an alligator. At least not a big one. It is an exhausting, exacting endeavor.

    For safety and sporting reasons, you are not allowed to shoot them until you have secured a part of an alligator s body with a snare, a loop of wire attached to a pole. To get a snare attached, you have to be within a few feet of the alligator, and to get close, most hunters begin with a rod and reel and treble hook. It s more alligator fishing than alligator hunting, Flynt said.

    Hunters like Lee Turner and his friends gather on boats and go out at night looking to spot the gators floating in the water, waiting for their next meal. Midnight hunts are the norm. When a spotlight reveals a set of glowing eyes, a hunter casts a hook over the body, jerks it into the skin and holds on.

    An alligator can stay beneath the water for an hour. After they go under, you let them wear themselves out. Perhaps you try to get another hook or two set.

    This can last hours. When they tire and raise to the surface, you slip on the snare. This is tricky.

    Alligators are surprisingly quick. Hands have been chewed up. Once a snare is on, you are allowed to shoot them with a shotgun loaded with birdshot.

    A biologist, describing an alligator s toughness, said they are built with bullet-proof bone and skin. But at the base of their skulls there is a soft spot of tissue, their lone weak spot, and the place to take aim at point-blank range. Then comes the part that typically takes the longest: getting the massive body, all dead weight, loaded into a boat.

    they are built with bullet-proof bone and skin. Because so many steps are involved, many things can go wrong, and usually do. This often begins early in the process, when an alligator that is hooked tries to escape, and the splashing and cheering and maneuvering begins.

    Flynt calls this a Chinese water dance. A prehistoric thing weighing several hundred pounds fighting for its life can be messy. Add into this several adrenaline-filled hunters gathered in a small boat, a loaded gun, several different fishing lines, the absence of sunlight, and drinking (which is illegal but known to occur), and things rarely go as planned.

    It is truly an adventure, Flynt said. There is an element of danger involved. It can be very dangerous.

    That is part of the appeal. The hunters who apply for tags are not professionals or wildlife experts, like Steve Irwin, the late Australian known as The Crocodile Hunter for catching the alligators more aggressive, saltwater-tolerant cousin. They are mostly just middle-class Mississippi natives who grew up beating around the outdoors, hunting deer, quail and ducks.

    Though alligator meat can be battered and fried, it is tough and hardly worth the fight. That s not why people hunt them. It is a pursuit undertaken mainly for the novelty and thrill.

    One hunter said, It s not like a deer is going to jump in the stand and bite you. During the season, Ben Mask, who is 32 and works for Tupelo, Miss., Light and Water, caught an alligator in Tibbee Creek in northeast Mississippi. They can hurt you, he said.

    That makes it fun. Mask s alligator weighed 620 pounds. Big, but no record.

    Usually, a single shot to the soft spot is enough to kill. The one Mask caught proved resilient, though, and it took two shots. His hunting party then shot it a third time, as well.

    I asked why. Insurance, he said. *** Dustin Bockman's hunting party with their 727-pound catch. (Courtesy of Dustin Bockman) The 2013 hunt began at noon on Aug.

    30 and ended at noon on Sept.

    9. Approximately 920 hunters received permits and more than 2,600 people went out searching for alligators.

    Exactly 671 were killed. Every single record the state keeps track of was broken. Exactly 671 were killed.

    Every single record the state keeps track of was broken. The first one fell early. On the opening night, Brandon Maskew, a 27-year-old who goes by Boo and works for a trucking company in Laurel, Miss., took his three-person party onto the Pascagoula River.

    It runs through the state s southeastern corner for about 80 miles before emptying into the Gulf of Mexico. In a marsh not far from the Gulf, Maskew came across a gator and hooked into it. The process went well and only took about 40 minutes.

    When it was over, the party had caught a female alligator that was 10 feet long and weighed 295.3 pounds both records for the gender. The next morning, Maskew and Allen Big Al Purvis, who went on the hunt, took a picture standing beside the alligator. It hung, suspended in the air, by industrial-strength straps attached to a front-end loader.

    In that photograph, Purvis has on a Tequila Sunrise T-shirt and Maskew, in cut-off cargo pants, has his right arm locked around Purvis neck. They are all smiles. The tone of the next nine days had been set.

    Lee Turner stands next to his record-setting 741.5-pound gator. (Courtesy of Lee Turner) That weekend, shortly after midnight on Sept.

    1, Beth Trammell, a first-time hunter from Madison, Miss., was hunting in the Yazoo Diversion Canal in Issaquena County. This is the state s eastern edge, part of the Mississippi Delta. Trammell s party landed a 723.5-pound male alligator.

    It broke the state s previous size-record for a male by more than 25 pounds. But it only stood for an hour and a half. While Trammell s hunting party was pulling their alligator in, a 27-year-old UPS driver named Dustin Bockman was a few miles south hunting the Big Black River in Claiborne County.

    Bockman, a bachelor, is a native from Vicksburg and went hunting in shorts and a T-shirt you do not need camouflage to hunt gators. This was not his first time. Anything you can kill, I ve killed it, he told me.

    Bockman s brother and best friend went into the Big Black River with him. They chose that river because they fish there regularly and always see alligators. Alligators move across the surface with their eyes and top half of their snouts, and maybe a third of their body, showing above the water.

    As they swim their powerful tails and feet propeling them along it is hard to judge their size. We had no idea they were as big as they are, Bockman said. Alligators you see are usually small, like the one Bockman caught as a child.

    He grew up near the Big Black River and one day, when he was kid, he spotted a 5-foot long alligator walking a neighborhood road and he caught it. The local paper took his picture. Although most hunters use a rod and reel to snag a gator, Bockman took a different approach.

    He dropped a handful of glow sticks, the kind people wave at concerts, into an empty 3-liter water jug, and he tied the jug to a rope attached to an arrow in a crossbow. The plan was to shoot an alligator with the arrow and, after it went under, trail the light of the glow sticks along the Big Black River. They rode the river for an hour.

    Bockman said in that time, shining a spotlight around, they saw hundreds of eyes on the water. Most disappeared as soon as the light found them and the boat crept along, powered by a quiet trolling motor. They turned into a slough and hunted a swampy area.

    But they didn t spot a big one, Bockman said, so they turned back toward the river. As they approached the river, they passed one that held their attention. It was floating, and Bockman pulled the boat along behind it, and followed.

    He wanted to be within 10 feet before pulling the crossbow s trigger. It took hours to get that close. Bockman described it as a game of cat and mouse.

    He remembers that when the boat got close enough he said, Oh my God. When he shot the arrow lodged behind its left shoulder the alligator went under and began pulling the boat along, upstream, and then downstream, and then back again, slowly. Every now and then it dropped to the bottom and sat still.

    Each time the boat stopped, the crew s excitement grew. After several hours, the alligator grew tired and surfaced long enough for Bockman to get the boat beside it. They got a snare on it, but it kept wanting to slip off and Bockman, fearing the gator would be lost, picked up his brother s .16-gauge shotgun.

    He stuck the barrel into the water and fired a shot toward the alligator s soft spot. When he did, water flew high in the air and the pressure peeled the barrel back. I looked like Elmer Fudd, Bockman said.

    He shot again. The second shot killed the reptile. Then the work began.

    The three men wrapped their arms around the animal s leathery skin and pushed and pulled and tugged for four hours, trying to get the body out of the water and onto a sandbar. Somehow, they needed to get it in their boat, but couldn t lift it alone, and if they left it on the bank, who knew what might happen. So, as the mosquitoes bit them, they waited.

    By the time some other hunters happened by and helped them get it loaded in the boat, Bockman s party had been on the water for 12 hours. Flynt met them to inspect the gator. It weighed 727 pounds and set the new record for a male alligator caught in the state.

    It stood for six days. Lee Turner broke it. He is a 30-year-old resident of Madison, a suburb of Jackson.

    He works for a shipping company and is married with a 1-year-old child. He is tall with a big smile. He grew up in Quitman, in east Mississippi, near the Chickasawhay River and his father was in the oil business.

    They had a farm. I ve been hunting ever since I was old enough to go with my dad, Turner said. There were alligators in the reservoir near where he grew up.

    They ignored them while waterskiing. They don t really bother you, he said. They kind of stay in the shadows.

    Turner took John and Jennifer Ratcliff, experienced gator hunters, and Jimmy Greer, a friend, on his hunt. At 9 p.m. on Sept.

    7, they put a boat into the Mississippi River at a public ramp near Port Gibson. They had two spotlights, four deep-sea fishing lines, a couple of snares and a .410-bore shotgun. I was hoping to catch a 10-foot gator, Turner told me.

    That would have been great. They spotted an alligator immediately. It was gliding around near the ramp and about 5 feet long.

    Turner went after it it was his first time, his eyes were wide but it got away, and they headed up river. Alligator hunters who receive tags actually get two. One is for an alligator shorter than 7 feet; one is for one longer than 7 feet.

    Not long after heading north, Turner s party caught an alligator that was 7 feet 3 inches long. The process took about a half-hour It didn t put up too much of a fight, Turner said. They got it into the boat, secured its jaws shut with Duct tape, and took some pictures.

    But they wanted a big one. So they released it and continued up river. Three hours in, they had spotted about 30 alligators, but none big enough to chase.

    They turned into Bayou Pierre, a small tributary of the Mississippi River known for its warm water. When they did, they spotted two near the bank, and they looked big, but Turner kept moving. Eventually they caught a runt, Turner said, that was 6 feet 10 inches long.

    It took only 20 minutes to get in. That took care of one tag. They wanted to go deeper into the bayou but saw lights up ahead bouncing around on the water.

    Not wanting to disturb another hunting party, they turned back toward the Mississippi. Near the river, they spotted the two big ones they had seen earlier. One turned to get farther into the bayou.

    The other headed for the river. Turner followed. As they inched closer and closer, the alligator, sliding along the surface with a spotlight lighting its back, appeared bigger and bigger.

    Turner said at one point he turned toward John Ratcliff and said, That s a big gator. Ratcliff, who seven years ago held the record for the biggest alligator, responded, Ain t but one way to find out. Then he took a rod and reel and threw a line.

    The alligator, hooked, went under. It stayed down for about 10 minutes before surfacing behind the boat. We heard it before we saw it, Turner said.

    After the group laid eyes on the animal up close, and were confronted with the size of what they were attached to, Ratcliff spoke first. He said they needed a plan. No matter how prepared you are, Turner said, when you get one on the line everything goes haywire.

    It always crumbles. No matter how prepared you are, when you get one on the line everything goes haywire. It always crumbles.

    The party managed to get three more lines hooked into it. Because of its massive size, the gator broke three. Turner held the last one.

    He had to lean back to offset the force, like battling a tuna at sea, as the animal pulled the boat along. Eventually, it went to the bottom in water about 12 feet deep. It had been two hours since Ratcliff got the first hook in and the group, after securing three more hooks into the animal s side, waited.

    When it finally came up again, it was agitated and that is when it began biting at the fiberglass boat. Turner said they did not feel like it was trying to attack them, but was just panicked, confused and scared. Still, Ratcliff, sensing urgency, said it needed to be shot, and soon.

    Ratcliff was near the edge of the boat trying to work his nerve up to slip on the snare. His wife was holding a spotlight. Turner was holding the line.

    So Greer picked up the shotgun and walked to the edge, beside Ratcliff, who jerked a snare down around the animal s head. Greer leaned out over the water with the alligator beneath him, aimed at the exhausted animal, pulled the trigger. It only took one.

    When alligators die they lose buoyancy, and Turner said the moment the shot rang out the rods with lines attached to it each fell into a U shape as the alligator sunk to the bottom. After the four of them got it pulled halfway onto a sandbar, the Ratcliffs took the boat down the river looking for help. Turner and Greer sat with their catch.

    It was about 2 a.m. Three other hunters helped get it loaded into the Turner party s boat and they drove back to Port Gibson. With the alligator riding in the boat, they went to Canton, a middle Mississippi town near where Turner works.

    A friend of his who owns a backhoe met them there and helped lift the alligator into the back of a pickup. They went to a weigh station off of Interstate 55 to see how much it weighed. By then, the sun had risen and as they waited to get on the scales, about 50 people who happened to be passing by stopped to stand beside the gator in the truck bed, and they all took pictures.

    It cost Turner $10 to weigh it. Flynt came and made the 741.5-pound weight official. By the time Turner crawled into bed that night he had been up nearly 48 hours.

    That same day a 33-year-old banker named Ben Walker caught an alligator in the Yazoo River, a Delta waterway that runs from Greenwood to Vicksburg. It was not as heavy as Turner s, but at 13 feet 7 inches, was the longest in state history. To get it out of their boat they used a truck wench and stored it in a walk-in freezer until Flynt could verify the record.

    Walker plans on getting the alligator s head mounted it will cost about $1,000 and hanging it at his father s cabin beside the Yazoo River. It is fitting place, he said. He feels sure the animal left a footprint in the area, eating pigs and deer.

    Bockman, who told me people on his UPS route call him gator man now, is having a pair of boots and a new wallet made from his alligator s hide. He also wants to mount the head. He will get a piece of driftwood from the Mississippi River and fix the head to it, along with the broken barrel of the shotgun that killed it, and the empty water jug.

    Turner sent his alligator to Florida with a trapper he met through the Ratcliffs. He is going to use the money he gets for its hide to have the head mounted. He isn t sure where it will go, though, because his wife doesn t want it inside their home.

    That is OK with Turner. He already has a deer head, a turkey and two squirrels on the wall. There just isn t room for an alligator. *** Ben Walker and his group with their 13'7" alligator, the longest in state history. (Courtesy of Ben Walker) I asked the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks how many unprovoked alligator attacks have occurred in the state.

    Florida has attacks occasionally, and there have been fatalities there, though rarely. Mississippi officials told me no such attacks have ever been reported. This struck me as odd.

    Then I remembered something Walker said. Before becoming a banker, he was a wildlife biologist. They re going to stay away from us as much as possible.

    They associate humans with danger. You re not going to step on an alligator the way you might step on a water moccasin, he said. They re going to stay away from us as much as possible.

    They associate humans with danger. In that way, we re a lot like gators, because we associate danger with them. Near where I grew up, beside an old two-lane highway going just outside a south Mississippi community called Brooklyn, someone once kept an alligator chained up in front of their home.

    It was a rural oddity, something that made everyone shift to one side of the car when you drove past in the hope that it would be there, sitting still, like frozen from another time. Most often, though, it wouldn t be. That chain was long and on a pulley system, and there was a pond nearby, and that alligator stayed out of sight a lot.

    It mostly lived in the imagination. A few weeks ago, I learned the man who chained that alligator was named Carnes Archer and I wanted to understand why he kept a gator. When I learned Archer died several years ago, I was referred to John Dearman, a friend of the family who lives in the area.

    This is what he told me: One day in August of 1957, Archer caught an alligator in the water not far from where the Black Creek meets Red Creek. It was a female about 7 feet long. Archer brought it home and chained it up, where it became something of a local attraction.

    Archer fed it road kill. Over the years it grew to be 14 feet long. Had it of been one of the alligators caught in the wild and killed this season, it would have been a record.

    When people stopped to stare, Archer would ham it up with his pet, which everyone called Chomper. He would rattle the chain, and when the alligator lurched near him, thinking it was going to be fed, Archer would lay down beside it and pretend to take a nap. He was the only person who could do that, Dearman said.

    I asked Ricky Flynt about Chomper recently. He said the state was aware of the situation, and after receiving a handful of complaints, wildlife officials investigated. In 2009, after Archer had passed away, the state asked Archer s son for paperwork that could document how the alligator came to be chained up in his father s front yard in Brooklyn.

    After that, Flynt said the alligator suddenly came up missing. I called Archer s son to ask him about that, but he didn t call me back. Brooklyn is the kind of place where people keep their secrets and do not appreciate journalists poking around with questions.

    No one knows where the alligator went, if anywhere. According to Dearman, it died in 2011. He says the family did not have its head mounted, but instead buried it on Archer s property.

    At least that s what he said. All I know is, the next time I find myself passing through, I plan on slowing down, leaning over in my truck and taking a good, hard look, just to be sure. William Browning is a University of Mississippi graduate and reporter.

    His work was recently listed as a notable selection in The Best American Sports Writing 2013. In 2011 he won an APSE award. The majority of his career, however, has been spent covering crime, courts and the U.S.

    military. He lives in a cabin in Lowndes County, Miss., with his wife, Joy, and their dog, Harper, and cats, Bombay and L.B. He can be reached via Twitter at @wtbrowning.

    Design Uy Tieu, Ramla Mahmood, Dylan Lathrop | Development Josh Laincz | Producer Chris Mottram | Editor Glenn Stout | Copy Editor Kevin Fixler | Lede Photo Lee Turner | Music Mike Dowling

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  • Intermodal Transportation Showing Growth As the US economy starts to move forward again after a few years of stagnant or flat growth, intermodal transportation companies are riding the momentum in increased goods &product shipments from U.S manufacturers and service companies. Recent figures from the Intermodal Association of North America s Intermodal Market Trends and Statistics report that U.S. growth of container volume grew nearly 13% over 2011 s Q2.

    It was the second strong growth quarter in a row, just below 2012 s strong first quarter increase of 14% in container volume. International intermodal shipping volume for U.S. container imports also grew 4% in 2012 s second quarter, the best quarter in a year for international.

    This is the type of encouraging business results for our nation s economy, especially heading into an election year cycle. From port shipments and deliveries on both East and West Coasts, to intermodal trucking companies in the Midwest, business is looking up for the U.S. logistics industry.

    The last four years in intermodal transportation have been depressing, as trucking companies faced driver shortages and high fuel costs. But 2011 showed a slight uptick in growth, which now has blossomed into the encouraging 2012 numbers seen at top. The reasons vary.

    Intermodal shipping offers cost savings from solid pricing, less handling costs, environmental benefits and better industry safety. Plus, the truckers have returned to the roads, and can again resume making a living from the increased shipments. The U.S.

    logistics system is a complicated one, compiled of different industry segments and businesses working in intermodal transportation. Industry participants include intermodal trucking and rail firms, ocean carriers, port authorities, logistics companies, and suppliers firms offering leasing, warehousing and other services. Collectively, these companies help move the nation s standard shipping containers and trailers.

    Individually, each outfit works to provide better operations, better use of existing infrastructure, and better service to their own corporate customers. A key benefit of these companies working together in intermodal transportation is that they help reduce transportation costs on particular modes of transport, while also lessening congestion on sea, air and roadways. Moreover, each particular mode of transportation brings with it its own advantages.

    Intermodal trucking companies establish arrangements with railroads to benefit both by helping to secure containers, decrease costs and improving overall service efficiencies. Studies have shown that using trains in rail transportation for shipping goods has shown to reduce highway accidents and lower its carbon footprint. But in some instances, there are advantages for some companies in using trucking mode of transportation.

    Intermodal trucking firms can be more flexible and time sensitive to good shipments in particular regions of the country. They also can utilize a smaller, more efficient fleet for smaller shipments. Overall, shippers can rely on U.S.

    intermodal transportation companies for reliability, safety and efficiency. When more companies move their freight to intermodal forms, the U.S. logistics industry will prove to be resilient in the face of ongoing competition.

    Article Source: Calhoun Truck Lines

  • Investigation casebook: The name of the game We re taking a look back at some of the year s best Investigations featured in Commercial Motor magazine. For our Christmas edition 19 December we looked once again at some of the more unusual company names within road transport. The name of the game What makes a company name memorable?

    CM finds out what led some firms to choose their names. Last year, CM took a look at some of the more unusual names within UK road transport, such as Buffaload Logistics, Tomato Plant, Panther Logistics (now Panther Warehousing) and Goaty Trucking, in a sector still dominated outside the 3PLs by family names. We wanted to know if standing out from the crowd had been a boon or bane for those firms, which had decided to stick their heads above the parapet and go for something different.

    Here s the class of 2013. Fly By Nite You may have seen Fly By Nite s eye-catching bat livery on the roads, but the name wasn t inspired by bats themselves more their nocturnal lifestyle. We are a music logistics company, so everything travels by night, says director Carl Reed.

    He explains that the nature of the touring business means it usually begins loading equipment onto its trucks when concerts finish at about 11pm. They then move through the night so they are at another venue the next morning. The unique spelling, he adds, is simply a twist on words (which handily also describes what the business does).

    Since Fly By Nite began in Birmingham in 1989 it has expanded rapidly, taking on between 12 to 14 additional and replacement vehicles each year. Reed feels having an unusual moniker hasn t had anything but upside for the firm. It now runs a fleet of more than 100 trucks from two sites in Redditch, Worcestershire, and is awaiting its first Euro-6 trial vehicles after Christmas.

    Panic Transport Kevin Johnson, MD at Panic Transport, says one of the industry s most memorable names owes its genesis to none other than the PG Tips Chimpanzees. Johnson had gone into business for himself in Rugby in 1986 as Mr Shifter. All was going well until the tea-plugging chimps turned up not long after in a re-run of their TV commercial where a chimp named Mr Shifter destroyed a perfectly good piano while attempting its removal.

    In that instant, Johnson knew his company s name had to change. He went with his initials as a stop-gap, KNJ, well aware that it lacked a wow factor. It didn t really have much going for it, he says.

    A few years on, a brainstorm with some of his drivers down the pub resulted in Panic Transport and Fast and Reliable Transport Service a ying and yang option. Of course the latter abbreviates as FART, which Johnson considered, toying with a Goes Like The Wind tagline. Instead, he went to a design company called Pyramid in Leamington Spa and they came up with a third concept: Distribution Unlimited.

    This was in the running until Johnson mentioned it to the next client he met who pointed out it could abbreviate as DULL. It left Panic, which was born in 1990, as the only viable option. Today the 68-vehicle strong Palletline member has the reputation to stand on its own two feet, but Johnson says that while Panic helped the business develop in an age where you only have to remember a name and then Google it, it did see it become pigeon-holed as a courier, and a last-minute option.

    Thus he created the Fragile Distribution and Moto Distribution brands, which are no longer in use, starting around 10 years ago to win business handling high-value glass and automotive products respectively. I don t like the name Panic, but the recognition is such I can t change it now, says Johnson. Sumo Heavy Haulage Based in the East Riding of Yorkshire, Sumo Haulage is part of Sumo UK, an agricultural equipment manufacturer that was started in 1991 by Shaun Wealleans as SW Agriservices.

    In 1993 the company designed its first truck tyre press and decided to call it Sumo Wealleans nickname. In 2009 SW Agriservices changed its name to Sumo UK, and today produces all its own products from its factory in Melbourne. Sumo Heavy Haulage started life transporting the group s machines from the factory to farms essentially two vehicles on a restricted licence.

    As the parent company s reputation grew, however, Weallean began to get enquiries as to whether he d consider delivering other people s product. As a result, family friend Jeremy Desmond was recruited around six months ago as transport manager to mastermind the haulage business s development, including some hire and reward work. You ve got to sell your haulage company as a product these days, says Desmond, who oversees three trucks (Volvos) and three trailers, low-loaders, and a Euroliner, with more to come.

    He adds: We go to agricultural shows, and there are very few manufacturers that have their own vehicles. We turn up with our trucks and drivers in uniform and it really gets us noticed. The Pink Link The story of Huddersfield-based The Pink Link began in June 1991 when David Allen bought haulage business SBH.

    Allen formerly a boss at Tuffnell s Parcels Express inherited a fleet of vehicles with a mix of colours, but decided to standardise in bright pink and adopt strap line The Pink Link. His daughter, Vicki Davenport, the sales and commercial director at the company, says: When we took over in 1991, it had a multi-coloured array of vehicles. We couldn t afford to buy new so we painted them all a baby pink and had the strap line.

    The choice of colour was to get noticed: It was a big thing at the time, especially for drivers who got quite a bit of reaction when they drove up to their delivery points. According to Davenport, the firm s male drivers are now completely comfortable with the livery, and even get some jealous looks from other drivers because the trucks look so smart! She adds: It certainly helps to sell having such a striking brand, and we would never consider changing it.

    Some others we like United Colours of Beddington Deadman Confidential Baird Lends-A-Hand Bang Logistics Accelerate Freight Serious Waste Management U Call I Haul Moov-U The Womans Touch Grumpy Transport ); } //]]

  • Ipswich/Felixstowe: Could speed limit be reduced during high winds ... Highways bosses and politicians are looking at new ways of easing traffic congestion in Ipswich including holding Felixstowe-bound lorries in stacking areas west of the Orwell Bridge. A summit meeting between the police, Suffolk County Council, and Highways Agency officials is due to be held within the next few weeks to discuss ways of preventing a repeat of last week s gridlock in Ipswich after the closure of the bridge. On Wednesday the bridge was closed for much of the day, bringing the town to a standstill.

    Another closure overnight on Friday to Saturday caused further inconvenience, although there was not as much traffic on the road. The summit meeting has been called by Suffolk Police and Crime Commissioner Tim Passmore who said it was vital to ensure the town was not brought to a halt by the closure of the bridge. Efforts to reduce the number of accidents on the bridge are already under way.

    The Highways Agency is planning to introduce a 60mph speed limit, which is likely to be enforced with average speed cameras. Mr Passmore said he was urging the Agency to consider introducing reduced speed limits, enforced by the cameras, when conditions deteriorated. He said: If things are particularly bad on the bridge for whatever reason you could drop the speed limit to 50mph or 40mph.

    If there are high winds it might be possible to use the bridge with a maximum of 30mph That would be better than sitting in a queue in Ipswich going precisely nowhere. One option could be the creation of stacking areas to the west of Ipswich for large lorries heading to Felixstowe when the bridge was closed. He said the old A12 at Copdock, and the former Bury Road park and ride site in Ipswich could be considered.

    He also said sites further along the A14 near Stowmarket could be an option. However this might not be a simple solution most of the lorries heading to Felixstowe during periods of high winds are not going to the port itself, but independent yards. They are much more difficult to regulate.

    County council cabinet member for transport Graham Newman said action was needed. Some lorries had tried to avoid Ipswich by using the B1078 to get from Needham Market to Wickham Market and then go down the A12. He said: There were major problems in Coddenham where the road is totally unsuitable for large lorries like that.

    We have to look at ways of easing the problem. Ipswich council s scrutiny panel is to look at the problems and draw up a policy to try to ensure the road can remain open. Conservative councillor George Debman has called for the policy to be drawn up: Those of us who live and work in the town know how difficult it is when the bridge is closed.

    The town comes to a halt and it really affects business. There must be a way of keeping the bridge open, reducing speeds and ensuring HGVs remain in the outside lane. Business leaders warned that regular closures of the bridge were damaging the economy of the whole county.

    John Dugmore, chief executive of the Suffolk and Ipswich Chamber of Commerce, said: With the horrendous weather the effect on business has been a major challenge. The closure of the Orwell Bridge does cause major frustrations and inconvenience both to businesses moving freight and to those operating in Ipswich. If climate change means we will see the bridge closed more often then business will want to see options considered for improving the situation.

    He added.

    Those options must have the support of business if they are to be implemented and make a difference.

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  • Keeping Up With Sandy: We Keep On TruckingDay Five dawned dark. Our location in Indiana was at the very western edge of the Eastern Time Zone. Consequently it was very dark at 6am.

    So the plans of leaving early were but a dream as we did not really want to put things away in the pitch black. It is considered poor form to rustle about too much before it gets light outside. But we were on the road again (sounds like a song!) by 7:30am.

    Indiana turned into Illinois and by dint of a change to Central Time Zone, we made it to Chicago about 1/2 after we left Indiana. Huh? Thank goodness we did the drive through the city on a Sunday morning instead of a workday.

    Even today there was a lot of traffic. Even with GPS the navigation was especially tricky in one spot and we pretty much slowed to a crawl waiting to be let into the proper lane. We certainly looked like out-of-towners with our big whale of a 5th wheel and Maine plates.

    To add to the fun, GPS directed us to I90 where there were big signs saying "Express Lanes, No Trucks". We aren't officially a truck (at least that's my story should any law enforcement official ask). But our concern was that maybe some of the bridges were too low for us.

    We committed ourselves to the route and held our breath as we did encounter one 13' 9" bridge. We are 12' 9". So we made it, none the worse for wear and without any citations.

    Why yes, it is still there! This is the view that I want from my rear window. Another of my jobs is to alert the driver if I do NOT see this.

    As you might be able to guess, roadside sights kept me amused for most of our 441.9 mile drive today. EZPass has worked on all the toll roads so far. The midwestern states seem to be replacing something called IZoom with it.

    I saw an interesting sign advertising "Full season control of corn root worm" We accidentally engaged in the sport of turtle tipping this morning somewhere east of South Bend. The silly turtle really shouldn't have sauntered out in front of such a big camper. Brett said it flipped over once but did appear to be headed off the road on its own power.

    A sign advertising an Amish market prompted the following conversation: Q -Would you like to buy an Amish? A-I'm not sure. Q-What would we do with one?

    A- Put it in the living room and force it to watch TV. When all the people riding on 3 motorcycles give you the thumbs up sign, it does not mean that they think you have a nice rig. I really need to work on my 65mph photo taking.

    This picture shows 2 rainbows that appeared in the sky just before we got to Chicago. Just when I decided that the scenery looked a lot like Maine, we began to get more and more farm land covered with corn. Boy howdy there's a lot of corn growing out here.

    Somebody told me once that it was tall so I for some reason got a mental image of corn the size of the pine trees along the interstate at home. I'm happy to report that it isn't quite that tall. Here we have stopped at a rest area in Wisconsin.

    We spoke with a man who was delivering a new RV to British Columbia. We noticed quite a few trucks from this delivery company hauling new fifth wheels. I guess that's how all those new recreational vehicles get from Indiana to their new owners.

    Wisconsin was the first place where we encountered bio-diesel for sale. It is .01 per gallon cheaper than regular diesel. We crossed the Mississippi River this afternoon.

    I knew it would happen but it just took me off guard to do it between Wisconsin and Minnesota. Somewhere in my brain I equated Mississippi River with the South. After this rest area, the highway climbs up the Great River Bluffs.

    These must have been formed as the river eroded the banks and got to the present location. The silo looks like a smoke stack with that cloud just behind it. And there was corn for as far as the eye could see.

    Minnesota settled into beautiful farmland from the border to Rochester where we are spending the night. Brett likes the fact that the road signs here aren't making things up. We drove 45 mph through much of Illinois under the "Road Work" warning signs but there wasn't any road work happening.

    Minnesota put out a "Bump Ahead" warning and then at the exact spot of the bump, had another sign with an arrow pointing to the bump. Dear Maine, please come take a look at this. I'm tired of guessing whether the frost heave sign is serious or just left over from last season.

    We got to our pretty campground at about 4:30pm and the nice people here showed us to our very easy to get into pull through site. Did I mention that the two nicest words in RV'ing are pull through? We set up the electric grill on the picnic table and I cooked bacon and banana pancakes with fresh raspberries.

    A breakfast for dinner camping event was had by all. Then a walk around the campground where we admired some more corn fields and smelled the smells of harvest. And oooooh'ed and aaaaah'ed over the enormous corn harvesting machines (my phone was being charged so I didn't get any pictures).

    It was another great day on our great adventure.

    I wonder what we'll learn tomorrow?

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  • Library Chronicles: Bicycle nationalism There are times when an ignored or oppressed faction has no other option but to get out in the street and demand to be taken seriously by a community. This is not one of those times. NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) - Angry bicyclists from around the Bywater and Marigny came together and blocked the intersection where a bicyclist was killed the day before.

    The New Orleans bicycle nation is banding together, to say enough is enough, and the fatal tragedy on Thursday afternoon could have been prevented. "New Orleans bicycle nation." Good grief. There are a lot of people in New Orleans who use bicycles as one of their transportation options. Just like there are a lot of people who use hammers to hang some of their pictures or can-openers to get at some of their artichoke hearts.

    These people do not constitute a "nation." I know because I am one of them. I've been riding a bike around New Orleans now for (literally.. I'm an old dude now) decades.

    In my experience, bicycling is the most convenient way to get most places in town when: 1) You're planning to travel 2-5 miles each way.

    2) You don't have to carry a whole bunch of stuff or passengers.

    3) You're fairly certain it's not going to rain like hell that day. For other occasions I keep my twenty year old Toyota Tercel around as a backup. It works most of the time.

    But I've never considered either the bike of the car any sort of status indicator. The deniznes of "bicycle nation" obviously think differently about that. Otherwise they wouldn't have thought it appropriate to wedge their personal identity politics into the scene of a tragic and horrific traffic fatality. "We're offered these two little white lines down the side of the road, and that's it," said Adam Traugott, 26, a St.

    Claude resident who organized the ride in response to Philip Geeck's death Thursday afternoon (July 17). " The culture here treats bicyclists as illegitimate ," he continued. Um... no.

    There's nothing wrong with, "the culture." A lot of people ride bikes in this city. If anything, "the culture" is very much in favor of it, perhaps even to a fault. There are bicycle advocacy groups, bicycle social events, bicycle valets.

    There is a city-sponsored Bike To Work Day. Lifestyle articles regularly highlight the cycling trend in our local publications. In 2011, the League of American Bicyclists presented New Orleans with its "Bronze Bicycle Friendly Community" award.

    Bicyclists are not a persecuted minority in New Orleans. They are not "illegitimate" in the eyes of "the culture." On the contrary, as a widely acknowledged favorite fashion accessory of the young, hip, creative class "New New Orleanian," the bicycle has never enjoyed a more elevated status in the eyes of the establishment. So well entrenched is bicycle advocacy, in fact, that road resurfacing projects are required to plan for incorporating the needs of cyclists in their design.

    But it's worth noting that this political pull is a relatively recent phenomenon. Here is a Lens article from 2011 about the city's effort to respond to the demands of cycling advocates. A decade ago, our award winning bike friendly community was in much worse shape.

    In 2002, the city s fatality rate won New Orleans the dubious distinction of being the most dangerous biking city in the country s third most lethal state for biking. In fact, Orleans Parish accounted for 49 percent of all bicycle crashes statewide, federal highway data shows. What has changed since then?

    Well for one thing there's a "media focus" on bicycling as fashion among the tastemaking class. Despite a media focus on young, white and preternaturally hip pedalers , the data show that the majority of the city s cyclists are men of color who don t have cars and rely on bikes to get around. And the injury rate tracks that: Of the injuries reported between 1996 and 2001, 44 were sustained by black males under 18, but only two in the same age group were white males, the Regional Planning Commission states in its New Orleans Metropolitan Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan, the most recent study of biking fatalities in the city.

    You can t attribute the popularity of bikes to the influx of new people and the fact that people are all green, Councilwoman Kristin Gisleson Palmer. It is the fact that we are a poor city. People cannot afford to have cars and they get around on bikes.

    It's probable that those numbers have shifted a bit since that plan was published but Kristin Palmer's assertion is still on the mark. Most people who rely on bikes as their primary transportation in New Orleans do so out of necessity. At the same time, though, the gentrification trend has brought with it a critical mass of "preternaturally hip" yuppies sufficient to generate political responsiveness.

    At least enough to get some bike lanes clumsily slapped down around town anyway. And that, in a sense, is the problem currently. The accident last week didn't result from lack of attention to the demands of bicycling advocates.

    After all, it happened in a very recently installed bike lane. Contrary to the claims of the bicycle nationalists, "the culture" is going all out to accommodate them. It's just doing so poorly.

    This article explains the stupidity of the Elysian Fields/St. Claude intersection pretty well. As St.

    Claude approaches the intersection from the east, the bike lane's solid striping becomes dashed, that's a signal to both cyclists and motorists that they are entering a mixing zone, Bennett said. That's normal. It's the area where cars wishing to turn right merge across the bike lane in preparation to turn right.

    It exists so drivers merge across the cycle lane rather than turning abruptly across it, Bennet said. The St. Claude-Elysian Fields intersection, however, has an odd feature.

    The right turn is configured as a slip lane -- the little diagonal cut-through found on many busy streets. But the angle there would be too sharp for large vehicles, so truck drivers are allowed to make the right turn from the through lane, cutting across the bike lane. Block signage on a St.

    Claude's lane that include the words "Trucks OK" and a right arrow signal to truck drivers that they can make a right turn, despite the lane for bicycles to travel through the intersection. "That is very dangerous," Bennett said. "I've never seen that design before . "You never want to have a lane turning across a through lane of traffic," he said. Click here if you need to see that illustrated. They've created an intersection of state highways and major trucking routes with two turning lanes that plow straight across a bike lane in a way that makes it very difficult for bikers and drivers to see each other coming at all much less figure out who has the right of way.

    It's almost as if planners are trying to hurt people. They're not, of course. It's just that this was the path of least resistance for a road design process involving agencies at federal, state, and local levels all trying to meet slightly different standards and satisfy the demands of various parties..

    including truckers and bicyclists. There are actually smarter ways to integrate all of these elements. We're just not there yet.

    We can get there but I don't think we're likely to get there by airing grievances that have no basis in reality. Running out in the street and shouting at police can only spark an unproductive negative reaction. And then "the culture" really will learn to see you as "illegitimate." Also, I couldn't quite work these into this post but read them anyway.

    Varg was an eyewitness to the scene just after this accident occurred. He wrote this about it. Also Jules Bentley was among the participants in the protest.

    His account of that event is here.

  • Local family successfully trucking ahead Topics: charles missen fraser, frasers livestock transport, logistics, trucking SEVENTY years in business have given the nation's third-largest livestock transport company a clear understanding of what is important. For Frasers Livestock Transport it's all about maintaining long-standing relationships and embracing new technology. Established in Warwick in September 1944, Frasers is one of the country's oldest livestock transport companies still operated by the founding family.

    Charles Missen Fraser and his wife, Edna, started the business the year they were married, financed into their first truck - a Ford that still boasts pride of place in the FLT complex - by Charlie's grandfather, who lent them "a hundred quid". As the family story goes, he prophetically declared "you never know, Charlie, one day you might own a fleet of these." Business initially revolved around carting wheat, hay and fence posts, then longer trips carting local chickens to a Woolloongabba abattoir. By the 1960s the business had grown to a fleet of trucks as the second generation of Frasers joined the family business.

    Today Ross, Les and Peter Fraser are at the helm. All three started working stock in saleyards as schoolboys and spent years "riding shotgun" and driving before stepping into hands-on management roles. At its core, Frasers Livestock Transport remains very much a family business.

    In early years, Charlie and his sons drove while the books were kept by Edna and, later, Maryanne and Robyn Fraser. For the past 20 years, Donna Fraser has been responsible for marketing, advertising and website development while third-generation Warwick Fraser is now in operations. A lot has changed in seven decades.

    Frasers currently operate a fleet of 50 Kenworth prime movers and 150 trailers in single, double, B-double, B-triple and road train configurations. Their total one-time uplift capacity is 250 decks of cattle. The Fraser fleet annually covers some nine million kilometres carting more than four million head of livestock - 80% cattle, the balance sheep and pigs - between properties, abattoirs, saleyards and feedlots across eastern Australia.

    Frasers believe that good staff are key to their business growth and success. "Business is about people doing business with people and ours is no different," Ross explained. "We have some terrific young staff, along with some third-generation, and currently a father-and-son team driving: Having good people is critical to our business." Today, Frasers employ 110 staff in administration, workshop and driving roles spread from their Warwick base to depots at Gracemere, Roma, Dalby and Goondiwindi. It is not only staff loyalty that underpins the Frasers operation. The Company has long-standing relationships with producers dating back to the start of the business: The grandfather of current National Farmers Federation president Brent Finlay used Frasers to shift sheep from the Pikedale district in the 1950s and the business relationship between the two families continues today.

    These days Frasers count some of the country's major beef producers - Australian Agricultural Company, Acton Land and Cattle, Napco and Consolidated Pastoral - among their client base. Ross Fraser describes his parents as entrepreneurs who saw an opportunity and built a business with the goal of handing it onto their sons. "When we became involved in the business, we were using 20-foot body trucks and 34 or 36 foot trailers," Mr Fraser said. "There was no double-deck, three- or four-deck sheep work or road trains. "We pushed for change because we could see the opportunities and efficiencies." Improvements in airbag suspension, crate design and trailer technology have made a significant difference to livestock transport, along with Frasers' introduction of GPS tracking which allows centralised operation monitoring and route-tracking. "The GPS MTData system is impressive, I can log-on via my iPhone and locate any one of our trucks, at any time, Ross Fraser explained. "Our mechanics can monitor engine-management and on-board computers relay detailed reports on acceleration, braking and cornering, all of which helps improve safety and overall fleet maintenance." It's this willingness to embrace technology and initiate change that has taken Frasers to the forefront of the livestock trucking industry. In 2013 the Company won the Queensland Safe Work and Judges' awards for an innovative cross-loading ramp designed and fabricated in their Warwick workshop.

    It's a fitting example of the innovative approach Frasers have for their business: "You have to be prepared to embrace change when it improves efficiency," Mr Fraser said.

    It's an approach they also bring to the personnel-side with Les's son, Warwick Fraser, the third generation to join the business. "We love seeing young people become involved in our industry: It's good for business and you have to look to the future," Ross Fraser said. '; $('div.inline-story-realEstate').html(fullWidthFinalHtml); $('sectiondata-overlay-marker*="Local Real Estate" div.row:first').prepend(''); $(document).ready(function() $('div.inline-story-realEstate article.propertyUnitWrapper div.imageWrapper img').each(function() if($(this).attr('src') == "") $(this).attr('src', 'http://media2.apnonline.com.au/img/media/images/2013/07/29/photo-coming-soon.png'); }); }); } }); });

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  • Minty tough: Owner-op, custom Pete brave tough times together ... Chris VanPelt says the 2007 Peterbilt 379 s mint and teal two-tone paint scheme came to him in a vision, and he worked with Peterbilt to spec it. Chris VanPelt and his 2007 Peterbilt 379 have been through some tough times together, including a divorce and two bankruptcies. But he and the rig have pulled out some good times of late riding the show truck circuit.

    The Menomonee Falls, Wis.-based operator runs the Pete daily hauling general freight nationwide. He s put more than 750,000 miles on it, and he says it may be the only custom job he turns out. VanPelt says the rig s mint and teal two-tone paint scheme came to him in a vision and that he knew just the shades he wanted his new truck to be.

    He developed the color himself by mixing a few different shades of DuPont paint, and he worked with Peterbilt to spec the truck with that color from the factory. Chris VanPelt says the 2007 Peterbilt 379 s mint and teal two-tone paint scheme came to him in a vision, and he worked with Peterbilt to spec it. He picked the tractor up in 2006, but he didn t finish customizing the exterior and interior until August 2007, adding custom airbags to the truck s front end, filling holes, reskinning the doors, adding custom headlights, reupholstering the interior, installing aftermarket rocker switches and putting in custom flooring.

    He also stretched the frame to 312 inches.

    The truck scored VanPelt a lifelong dream: being featured in Shell Rotella s annual SuperRigs calendar, as he s included in the 2014 version.

    VanPelt stretched the Pete s frame to 312 inches.

  • Motorists face months of disruption on Humber Bridge MOTORISTS face nine months of disruption on the Humber Bridge while crucial repair work is carried out. Just one lane will be operating in each direction on the bridge and reduced speed limits will be enforced while the work is completed. Bridge bosses say the repairs are vital to replace four solid steel A-frames that connect the main span bridge deck to the towers at either end of the bridge.

    MISERY FOR MOTORISTS: Drivers are facing nine months of disruption on the Humber Bridge while essential repair work is carried out. Picture: Jerome Ellerby But haulage firms reliant on the crossing for an easy route south have warned the move could prove costly if efforts to prevent tailbacks fail. Dominic Yeardley, director of Hull freight company Eurovision Logistics, said: "It's such a marginal industry we're in, just a small delay can have an impact.

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    Savings based on directors rates. Contact: 01482 423178 Valid until: Thursday, October 31 2013 "If you're going over the bridge twice a day and you lose an hour, you've lost a reasonably significant percentage of your hauling capacity for that vehicle. "There's no way of getting that back. You risk being late with your customers' deliveries." The Humber Bridge Board insists it has learnt from the mistakes of July, when toll booth closures during an upgrade programme led to tailbacks stretching to Willerby and past Barton-upon-Humber on the south bank.

    Bridgemaster Peter Hill said he was aware closed lanes during the 3.9m repair work were likely to be a cause for concern to customers. He said: "We appreciate customers will be worried this work could affect traffic flow in and around the Humber Bridge toll area but we want to stress that we are doing all we can to minimise any impact. "At peak times, we will have three approach lanes and three toll booths open in each direction, as at present. "We will only reduce this to two lanes, or possibly one, at the quietest times during nights and at weekends, and only when the works make this essential for safety. "With the maintenance work continuing until next summer, we are also planning ahead for the winter months and the effects poor weather will bring to minimise disruption." The maintenance work is due to start at the end of this month. It is unrelated to the Humber Bridge Toll Project, which is replacing manned booths with electronic ones.

    Bridge bosses said it made economic sense to carry out both schemes together as lane restrictions would be in place for a shorter amount of time.

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  • MSM Monitor: Sunday Globe Special: Truck Stop I'm getting hungry myself. "Push for healthier truck drivers gaining momentum" by Jamie Stengle | Associated Press, October 14, 2012 DALLAS In the months after Doug Robinson started driving a truck, he noticed his clothes were increasingly more snug-fitting. He was already overweight but soon realized that spending up to 11 hours behind the wheel, frequently eating fast food , and not exercising was a poor combination. When his employer, US Xpress, took part in a weight-loss challenge sponsored by the Truckload Carriers Association, the 321-pound, 6-foot-1-inch Robinson signed up.

    He s about 40 pounds into his goal of dropping 100. His truck s refrigerator is stocked with chicken, tuna, and vegetables. And after his day s drive, he walks on trails near rest stops or just circling his truck.

    I have asthma, so with the extra weight on there, it isn t good for me, said Robinson, a 30-year-old from Philadelphia. When I started losing weight, instantly I was breathing better. I was sleeping better at night.

    I'm all for people being healthier; I just wish there weren't poisons in the land, air, and water while we obsess about obesity in a land where one in six are hungry. From trucking companies embracing wellness and weight-loss programs to gyms being installed at truck stops , momentum has picked up in recent years to help those who make their living driving big rigs get into shape. I think a lot of trucking companies are coming around to the idea that their drivers are their assets, said Boyd Stephenson of the American Truck ing Associations, the industry s largest national trade association.

    He added that healthier employees help a company s bottom line . I knew there wa$ an agenda at work. There s an additional incentive for truckers to stay in shape their job might depend on their health.

    I smell a discrimination lawsuit cooking. Every two years, they must pass a physical exam required by the Department of Transportation s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. They are checked for conditions that might cause them to become incapacitated suddenly or gradually while driving, including severe heart conditions, high blood pressure, and respiratory disorders.

    While there are no weight restrictions , a commercial driver who has been diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea and is not undergoing treatment will not get a medical certificate. Sleep apnea, more common among those who are overweight, leads to daytime sleepiness, a danger on long drives. But there are obstacles for truck drivers who are mindful of their health.

    In addition to being seated for many hours at a time, eating options are usually limited to places with parking lots big enough to accommodate their tractor-trailers most often truck stops, which historically have not been known for wholesome food or workout equipment. That s something truck stop chains have been trying to change. TravelCenters of America, which operates under the TA and Petro Stopping Centers brands, launched a program two years ago called StayFit that includes placing small, free gyms in truck stops, offering healthier eating options and half portions, mapping walking routes near truck stops, and building basketball courts in some locations.

    We wanted to remove as many barriers to drivers health as possible, said TravelCenters spokesman Tom Liutkus, who said the company has gyms at 42 of its more than 240 locations, with plans to outfit them all by the end of next year. He added that the gyms have been accessed more than 30,000 times. Gym franchiser Snap Fitness has partnered with Rolling Strong, which provides wellness programs aimed at truckers, to open gyms at Pilot Flying J locations.

    The first one opened south of Dallas in June: A nearly 1,000-square-foot stand-alone building filled with weights and a dozen machines. More than 120 memberships have been sold for that gym. We know that we have an audience out there that needs help, said Snap Fitness chief executive officer and founder Peter Taunton.

    By the end of the year, the company plans to install gyms inside Pilot Flying J truck stops in Georgia and Tennessee.