Federal Response to Ida Includes Regulatory Relief for Truckers

Damaged pipes at Royal Dutch Shell facility in Louisiana
Damaged pipes at the Royal Dutch Shell Norco Refinery in LaPlace, La, FMCSA has issued an emergency declaration that covers truckers involved in relief efforts in six states. (Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg News)

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Hours-of-service flexibility for truckers involved in critical relief efforts is one element of the federal government’s response to Tropical Depression Ida.

Ida made landfall as a Category 4 hurricane Aug. 29, slamming Louisiana with winds reaching 150 mph. According to the National Hurricane Center’s bulletin issued Aug. 31, the storm was moving over northern Mississippi. Heavy rain and threats of flooding are expected to spread from the Tennessee and Ohio valleys into the Appalachians.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration on Aug. 29 issued a regional emergency declaration offering relief from regulations related to maximum driving time provisions for property-carrying vehicles and passenger-carrying vehicles. The declaration encompasses Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee and Texas and applies to drivers who are providing direct assistance in support of emergency relief efforts.

“This declaration addresses the emergency conditions creating a need for immediate transportation of supplies, goods, equipment, fuel and persons and provides necessary relief,” the emergency declaration states.

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, FMCSA has received more than 200 phone calls, emails and text messages inquiring about HOS exemptions and declarations since Aug. 27.

The Federal Highway Administration has briefed state department of transportation representatives on emergency response to damaged roads and bridges, and is ready to support requests when they are received.

The government’s response extends to rail as well as roadways. The Federal Railroad Administration has activated an emergency relief docket that offers railroads the ability to obtain temporary waivers from safety regulations to expedite service recovery and restoration. The purpose of the emergency relief docket is to ensure routine safety compliance requirements do not unnecessarily interfere with railroads’ efforts to respond in an emergency.

The Federal Transit Administration has maintained contact with transit agency leaders in the impacted area, including representatives of the New Orleans Regional Transit Authority.

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