Your Aug. 5 Pre-Trip: Truckers say NY Thruway Authority tolls violate Constitution

Here are five things worth knowing today:

1. A federal appeals court reinstated trucking companies’ claims that the New York State Thruway Authority violates the Constitution by charging excessive tolls along a major artery, according to a report in the Lockport Union-Sun and Journal. The lawsuit claims that the high tolls reduce trucking companies’ revenue and force higher prices onto consumers. The tolls are charged on 570 miles of New York’s interstates, including 87, 90, 95, 190 and 287. Trucking companies claim it’s wrong that up to 12% of the toll revenues – about $100 million annually – go toward maintaining the New York Canal System, according to the report. A lower-court judge initially dismissed the five-year-old lawsuit, saying its claims were directed at the state. “But the appeals court said the Thruway Authority is not an arm of the state and not entitled to the state’s sovereign immunity,” according to the report.

2. The U.S. Department of Transportation is leveraging social media to put pressure on elected leaders to fix the nation’s failing infrastructure. According to KPHO CBS 5, the department has created the hashtag #ShowUsYourInfraWear for the public to Tweet or Instagram pictures of deteriorating roads and bridges using that hashtag and the U.S. DOT handle, @USDOT. The campaign comes after Congress passed a three-month, short-term extension for highway funding before leaving for its August recess.

3. Celadon Trucking Services has agreed to pay $200,000 to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), according to JD Supra Business Advisor. The suit, filed against the Indiana-based trucking company, alleged that the company violated the Americans with Disabilities Act by conducting “unlawful medical inquiries and examinations of applicants for over-the-road truck driving positions,” EEOC said. According to the report, the court determined “there were sufficient facts to support a finding that two of the class members were qualified for the truck driving position, but Celadon unlawfully dismissed them from the driver orientation program because of their disabilities in violation of the ADA.”

4. Blue Star Gas, a propane distributor, is working to convert its 55 vehicles that currently run on gasoline to propane. UPS, which already has 1,000-propane-powered trucks, seeks to buy more. The change, according to the Telegram, is “propelled by a glut of propane from shale wells.” According to the report, fuel prices are at a 13-year low and propane is 75% cheaper than diesel. The Telegram added that propane emits 12% less carbon dioxide than gasoline. The Telegram has more.

5. The Unity, Penn., planning commission OK’d Freightliner Trucks’ plan to build an 18,960-sq.-ft. truck repair center off Rte. 981 at the Westmoreland County industrial park, Trib Live reports. According to the report, the building will house mostly tractor-trailers and provide equipment repairs. Freightline is constructing similar sites in New Stanton and Hagerstown, Md., Trib Live said.

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