October 10, 2012 3:00 PM, EDT
DOT Highway Plan Focuses on Safety, Freight Movement, FHWA Official Says

LAS VEGAS — The Department of Transportation’s plan to strengthen U.S. highways supports its “aggressive safety agenda” while allowing prioritization of projects to improve freight movement, a federal official said here Tuesday.

DOT’s MAP-21 program, which stands for Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century, does not include a formal program for truck parking programs, but does allow some projects to be eligible for federal funding, said Jeff Lindley, associate administrator for operations in the Federal Highway Administration.

Lindley spoke to American Trucking Associations’ highway policy committee meeting Oct. 9 during ATA’s annual Management Conference & Exhibition here.

The two-year highway law passed this summer adds about $38 billion in funding per year for highways, in line with the previous multi-year transportation funding law, SAFETY-LU, Lindley said. FHWA is part of DOT.

“DOT, in conjunction with state motor carrier safety personnel, will conduct a survey and competitive assessment of truck parking in each state by April 2014,” Lindley told the well-attended meetings, which included the presidents of many state trucking associations.

The study, which Lindley said in response to a question would cost “a couple of million dollars,” will be “more constrained by time than money,” he said.

MAP-21 also requires a compilation of state truck size and weight laws, allowing for an increase in the weight of an attached auxiliary power unit to 550 pounds, from 400 pounds.

The weight study will look at “alternative configurations,” for example a six-axle, 97,000-lb. truck that is over current weight limits, Lindley said. That study is due to Congress in two years, by October 2014.

DOT is required to develop a national freight strategic plan by Oct. 1, 2015, and to update it at least every five years, he said in his presentation, adding that the plan will be developed with states and private transportation stakeholders.

States must be encouraged by DOT to develop their own comprehensive freight plans, which will be required in order to seek higher federal shares for freight projects, Lindley said.

FHWA will continue to put updated information on the program on its web page,