October 31, 2012 5:15 PM, EDT

FMCSA Lifts HOS Rules for Truckers Working on Sandy-Related Cleanup

DOT Releases $13 Million to Help States Restore Roads

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration declared a regional emergency over many eastern states, lifting hours-of-service regulations for trucking and work crews dealing with the massive cleanup following Hurricane Sandy.

Separately, the U.S. Department of Transportation said Wednesday it was releasing $10 million in emergency funds to New York state and $3 million to Rhode Island to help pay for restoring storm-damaged roads.

President Obama — who toured heavily damaged areas along the New Jersey shore Wednesday with Gov. Chris Christie — directed DOT to “restore vital transportation infrastructure,” the department said on its website.

The FMCSA order, which took effect Tuesday, “applies only to those [trucking] operations providing direct assistance to the emergency relief effort,” FMCSA said.

“To help interstate truck drivers providing direct emergency relief from the storm, [FMCSA] has issued an Eastern Regional Emergency Declaration that temporarily lifts certain requirements and regulations . . . [including HOS] requirements, certain inspection and maintenance requirements, and record keeping requirements,” the agency said.

The ruling also exempts utility vehicles from HOS requirements, with many utilities bringing in linemen from other areas to help restore power. News reports said more than 8 million customers lost power following the huge storm.

Affected states include Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia and West Virginia, as well as the District of Columbia.

Kentucky, New Hampshire and North Carolina also issued state emergency declarations related to Sandy, which dumped more than a foot of snow in parts of West Virginia, disrupted highway traffic in many states and brought gale-force winds as far west as Lake Michigan.

Sandy, which morphed into what meteorologists dubbed a “super storm,” left at least 50 people dead in the U.S. and millions without power, with the majority in New Jersey and New York, Bloomberg reported Wednesday.