The federal highway bill was given a tenth extension through Wednesday, July 27, to enable Congress to work out the differences between the House and Senate versions, according to the Truckload Carriers Assn. (TCA).
TCA safety director Rich Clemente told Fleet Owner he is cautiously optimistic that this will be the last extension. “It sounds like [Congress is] drawing close to finishing the highway bill. The hope is they can get it done before the five-week [Congressional] recess in August, but of course there are no guarantees on that.”
Neither the House nor Senate versions of the bill have any language that codifies hours-of-service changes into law, despite strong support for the measure from trucking associations and Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration Administrator Annette Sandberg.
Interstate tolling is another hot issue for trucking, with the American Trucking Assns. (ATA) favoring the Senate version of the bill. This version would limit tolling to new Interstate lanes, with the exception of an I-81 pilot project in Virginia.
“The Senate bill would actually allow for greater tolling than the House bill on the Interstate system— but on new lanes only,” Darrin Roth, ATA director of highway operations, told Fleet Owner in an earlier interview. “The House version allows for limited tolling on both new lanes and existing lanes while the Senate bill opens opportunities for states to toll new lanes. The vast majority of toll projects and proposals fit under the Senate language by adding new capacity with tolls [to fund it].”
A provision requiring trucking customers to pay mandatory fuel surcharges passed the House, but not the Senate—leaving the issue to be another hot button for trucking until the House and Senate jointly reach a resolution.