Congress Offers Little Help for Customs' Aging Computer System

The U.S. Customs Service didn't get the funding from Congress it wanted to upgrade its aging computer system, so importers may end up stuck with the bill.

Customs' computer system is 14 years old and has been operating near capacity for months. Things came to a head in September when it got so overloaded it crashed twice, forcing companies to find other ways to file import documents, 98% of which are usually handled electronically.

Dana Buys Engine-Parts Plants

TOLEDO, Ohio (AP) — Automotive supplier Dana Corp. of Toledo announced it has reached a definitive agreement to buy the engine-parts business of Federal-Mogul Corp. of Southfield, Mich., for $430 million.

Federal Mogul acquired the engine parts operations in its purchase this year of British auto component maker T&N PLC but agreed to sell them to satisfy federal anti-trust concerns.

Durable-Goods Orders Post 4th Consecutive Increase

WASHINGTON (AP) — Orders to American factories for big-ticket durable goods rose 0.9 percent in September, pulled higher by demand for automobiles, communications equipment and military goods.

The unexpected fourth consecutive increase brought orders to a seasonally adjusted $192.1 billion, the Commerce Department said today. Economists had expected about a 1 percent drop, with world financial turmoil diminishing demand for U.S. products.

Oregon Gov. Wants More Troopers

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — Gov. John Kitzhaber will ask the Oregon Legislature to hire 100 more state troopers to patrol highways.

The Democratic governor also said Tuesday that his $10.8 billion spending plan would not require new taxes. But he said he likely will back a gas tax increase that a business lobbying group plans to submit to the Legislature. He made the comments at a news conference.

Mr. Kitzhaber said the hiring of 100 more state troopers would be a big step toward improving safety on Oregon's streets and freeways.

Displaced Workers to Be Trained As Truck Drivers With Federal Grant

The U.S. Department of Labor will award a $1.2 million grant to the ATA Foundation to train workers who've lost their jobs in other industries to become long-haul truck drivers.

Susan M. Coughlin, director of the ATA Foundation, said the grant, which should be finalized over the next few weeks, is part of a project to address the nationwide driver shortage.

Trucking Executives Lend New Orleans School a Helping Hand

NEW ORLEANS — Nearly 150 trucking executives joined community volunteers on a sunny Saturday in New Orleans to paint, plant and rejuvenate their industry image.

"We've been fortunate to have been involved in trucking and transportation," said Roger Roberson, president of Roberson Transportation of Champagne, Ill. "We believe you got to give something back. It's something we've always taught our kids."

Navistar Strike Keeping Police Busy

SPRINGFIELD, Ohio (AP) — Clark County Sheriff Gene Kelly is caught in the middle of a three-week-old strike at Navistar International's truck-customizing plant, and it's clear he'd rather be doing something else.

"We're just trying to keep the peace and trying to work with both sides," Mr. Kelly said.

Deputies have been called to the picket line at least 10 times since the strike began Oct. 5, although there have been no arrests. "We've had complaints about them blocking vehicles," the sheriff said. "They can't impede traffic. That's against the law."

IBM Sells Hi-Tech Logistics Stake to Tibbett & Britten

PARIS — IBM sold its 40% shareholding in Hi-Tech Logistics Ltd. to the Britain-based international transport and logistics firm Tibbett & Britten.

At the same time, IBM signed a multimillion dollar contract with T&B for the outsourcing of its distribution and logistics activities in Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

Hi-Tech Logistics was a joint venture between IBM and T&B, which have been working in partnership since 1986. Hi-Tech Logistics, which has handled physical distribution for IBM since 1994, will be wholly integrated into T&B.

EPA Fines Engine Makers

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font size="-2" face="arial" color="gray">Michael James — Transport Topics
EPA's Carol M. Browner holds the device she says engine makers used to circumvent air standards as Atty. Gen. Janet Reno watches on at a press conference.

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OMC Stays Put

In passing the $520 billion spending bill that will keep the federal government going until next October, Congress last week left the Office of Motor Carriers sitting where it is, under the Federal Highway Administration’s wing.

President Clinton signed the 4,000-page omnibus legislation without fanfare Oct. 21, only hours after the Senate’s 65-29 vote. The House had given its approval the day before by a 333-95 margin.

Rep. Wolf Vows to Pursue Shift

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font size="-2" face="arial" color="gray">Michael James — Transport Topics
Rep. Wolf (left) talks to reporters.

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ep. Frank Wolf will not give up his campaign to move jurisdiction over trucking’s most important federal agency, the Office of Motor Carriers, to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

ATA Convenes New Era

The road to the 21st century for American Trucking Associations begins this week in New Orleans.

ore than 4,250 industry executives and their spouses are expected to attend the 1998 ATA Management Conference & Exhibition and witness the beginning of a new era for the trucking federation.

Kyoto Accord Could Cost Truckers Billions, DOE Says

The proposed international accord to combat global warming could cost U.S. truckers up to $36 billion a year in added fuel costs, a 90% increase, according to a study by the U.S. Department of Energy.

The agreement, which was negotiated in Kyoto, Japan, last year, could cause diesel prices to rise to between $1.33 and $2 per gallon from the current $1.04 average, and gasoline to increase to between $1.39 and $1.91, according to the Energy Information Administration.

Con-Way Moves and Expands

Con-Way Transportation Services, one of the fastest growing and most profitable freight carriers in the country, moved its corporate headquarters to Ann Arbor, Mich., and launched a new business to provide logistics services.

The move from Palo Alto, Calif., is aimed at improving communications with customers and allowing easier travel for executives and office staff, company officials said.

Con-Way already operated two companies in Ann Arbor: regional less-than-truckload carrier Con-Way Central Express and expedited carrier Con-Way NOW.

EU Drafts 48-Hr. Trucker Week

PARIS — European Union truck drivers will be limited to a 48-hour work week if a proposal now being drafted by the European Commission in Brussels becomes law.

The commission’s decision to propose legislation in this area represents a major policy shift. Transport workers originally were exempt from the so-called 48-hour “working time directive,” which went into effect for all other workers Oct. 1.

Small Safety Steps After New Orleans Freighter Mishap

NEW ORLEANS — It has been almost two years since the freighter Bright Field slammed into the wharf adjacent to the Riverwalk mall, which abuts the New Orleans Hilton hotel on the Mississippi River. But only minor changes have been made since then to improve safety and prevent a similar occurrence.

In January, the National Transportation Safety Board released its final report on the accident. In it, the NTSB determined that the probable cause of the accident was the failure of the Bright Field’s owners to adequately maintain the ship’s main engine and automation systems.

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