Rolling, Rolling, Rolling…

As a result of my new job up in Massachusetts, I have been spending some significant time on the Mass Pike, which is the major East-West highway in the state. Now I can get over the people who don’t turn on their headlights when it is dark out (this happened twice the other day, so I guess it is a regular practice), but what really has caught my attention are the big trucks. I’m not talking about the twin 33’ trailers I am used to from UPS on the New Jersey Turnpike, I’m talking about the big twins that are allowed up here.Scary does not begin to describe what it is like to try to pass one of these monstrosities. There is a bit of movement as the trailers try to follow the cab, and if it is windy or raining, you really hold your breath as you try to get past as quickly as possible. The good news is that they only are allowed on the highway itself, as there are “switching yards” set up next to some of the toll booths where these land trains can stop and uncouple the rear trailer so that they can go on the local roads. Even with that the turning radius of the double trailer units is huge.All of the above has given me more reason to be thankful for the victories we have had in Congress recently regarding large and heavy trucks. There have been three moves in the last month to have amendments that would allow larger trucks on the roads, and with the help of lobbying by the ASLRRA and its members, the Coalition Against Bigger Trucks, and numerous highway safety advocates, all three were defeated. However, this was only temporary victory. The forces for the larger trucks are strong, and we need to continue this coalition to make sure the next time this pops up, we can continue to keep the large and heavy trucks off the road.There are those who would try to say that we are trying to block the big trucks for business reasons, and while you could make a business case that this is true, what is much more significant is the safety issues for all of us who have to use the roads with these monsters of the road.---By Steve Friedland
steven-fb.jpgSteve Friedland is a well-known leader in the short line industry who has devoted more than two decades to railroading. At the Morristown & Erie Railway, a 42-mile New Jersey short line, he worked in all areas of the railroad, including track, mechanical, signals, and operations. In 1999, he founded Short Line Data Systems, a provider of railroad EDI and dispatching software, AEI hardware, and management consulting to the short line industry. He currently serves as the ASLRRA representative to the AAR's Wireless Communications Committee and is chairman of the joint AAR-ASLRRA Short Line Information Improvement Committee. He also is a member of the ASLRRA's board of directors.