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July 21, 2014

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SURFACE & DOMESTIC TRANSPORTATION THE JOURNAL OF COMMERCE 47 terminal within the 6,500-acre inland port features a dangerous railroad crossing, the site of frequent accidents and near head-on collisions, Elwood said. BNSF operates a ter- minal on the Elwood side of the sprawling industrial park that houses distribution cen- ters for some of the nation's largest shippers, including Wal-Mart, Bissell, Cargill, Home Depot and Georgia-Pacific. A video of a truck hitting the crossing gate on Walter Strawn Drive was released to local TV stations and newspapers, ignit- ing larger attention to the fear of the sleepy village 40 miles southwest of Chicago. The truck ban forced drivers to take a longer route, raising their operating costs and limiting how many loads they could move daily. The UP terminal is a major gateway for grain exports. The Illinois Commerce Commission is looking at ways to improve railroad crossing safety on Walter Strawn. One potential temporary solution is to increase the time between a crossing light flash and the low- ering of a gate, giving trucks a better shot of avoiding the arm coming down on their trailer or container. Railroads have become far more responsive to commu- nity concerns in recent years, according to an attorney who deals with rail matters but requested anonymity. When an accord can't be struck with loca ls, ra ilroads w ill push forward, knowing that their federal pre-emption from state laws will win out in the end, he said. If the city or municipality can't reach an agreement with a railroad, they can sue in state or federal court, with the case being referred to the U.S. Sur- face Transportation Board, the federal agency tasked with regulating the railroads. The STB generally rules in favor of the railroad, largely because of the federal pre-empt ion. Somet imes t he cit y or municipality will try to fine the railroad to discourage the project, only to see the rail- road take the case to the STB, where it will generally get a favorable ruling, the attorney said. Cities and municipalities can challenge proposed projects, citing the National Envi- ronmental Protection Act. CSX has had to go through the NEPA project to get the final environmental impact statement for the Virginia Avenue tunnel. But even most envi- ronmental litigation only delays the projects because railroads are willing "dig their heels in" to prevail, he said. JOC Contact Mark Szakonyi at and follow him on Twitter: @szakonyi_joc. IN BRIEF n Teamsters Tap Davidson for Seat on YRCW Board William R. Davidson, a veteran Teamsters labor relations official with decades of hands-on less-than-truckload experience, will join the YRC Worldwide board of directors. Davidson, who began his career as a dockworker at ABF Freight System, will replace Harry Wilson, the Teamsters-nominated director who left the YRC Worldwide board in March after helping the company complete a series of financial transactions that reduced long-term debt and secured a new five-year Teamsters labor agreement. Unlike Wilson, whose experience was primarily in finance, Davidson comes with a background in trucking that could help YRC as it works to improve operations and customer service. "Mr. Davidson has nearly four decades of experience in various operational and labor relations capacities with ABF, Roadway and YRCW," the Teamsters union said in a statement. Davidson joins YRC Worldwide as the $4.9 billion company's biggest subsidiary, YRC Freight, plans a limited expansion of operations after several years of losses and contraction. n Truckers Fault NY-NJ Task Force Report The New Jersey Motor Truck Association and the Association of Bi-State Motor Carriers representing port drayage companies issued separate statements criticizing several of the 23 recommendations by the Port Performance Task Force organized by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. Both trucking associations participated in the task force, which spent six months discussing ways to alleviate congestion at the port. Among the motor carriers' complaints were the task force's suggestions for a truck management system to meter arrivals at terminals. Truckers see this as a prelude to an appointment system, which they say would be impractical without other steps such as improved chassis availability. The task force discussed chassis issues and recommended creation of a "subject matter expert panel," possibly aided by a consultant, to recommend a pool system that would ensure full interchange of chassis. The New Jersey Motor Truck Association emphasized its opposition to a proposed container fee to continue a clean-trucks program for replacing old vehicles. "If they want to reduce truck emissions," the association said, "all they need to do is improve productivity at the terminals." JOC

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