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2 | BANGOR DAILY NEWS | Thursday | May 17, 2012

Shifting heavy trucks to interstates has improved public safety By Brian Swartz CUSTOM PUBLICATIONS EDITOR

Ron Gastia no longer worries about big trucks mingling with pedestrians at Bangor crosswalks. Brian Parke fields emails and phone calls from happy freight carriers. Brian Souers has seen his transportation costs somewhat stabilize. On Thursday, Nov. 17, 2011, Congress approved a transportation bill that lifted the weight limit on Maine and Vermont interstates to 100,000 pounds. The vote was lopsided: 298-121 in the House of Representatives and 70-30 in the Senate. When President Barack Obama signed the bill on Nov. 18, 2011, “it was almost too good to be true, somewhat surreal,” said Parke, the Maine Motor Transport Association president and CEO. “Why did we wait so long to do this?” asked Souers, who owns of Treeline Inc. in Chester. His company harvests and ships logs, a product typically banned from I-95 until last November. Moving the trucks to the local interstates “improved the safety of our roads and our

Ron Gastia is the Bangor Police Chief. He strongly supported lifting the weight limit on interstate highways in Maine.

Brian Parke is the president and CEO of the Maine Motor Transport Association.

residential neighborhoods,” said Gastia, the Bangor police chief. The new law “takes these trucks off our residential streets and rural roads. It reduces the fear for pedestrians on our city street.” “Every day we would hear the trucks” passing the Bangor Police Station, which

opened “just after Christmas” 2006, he said. “Immediately upon … the current law passing, we didn’t notice them any more. “We didn’t notice the sound. We didn’t notice the traffic delays” at the adjacent Cedar-Main street intersection, Gastia said. “We didn’t notice the log trucks coming through here, sometimes two or three units … back to back.” Until the bill’s passage, 100,000-pound trucks could use only the Maine Turnpike; federal law barred such trucks from Interstates 95, 195, 295, and 395. In the Portland

area, the ban pushed heavy trucks (primarily fuel trucks) onto Route 1 to reach Midcoast destinations. North of the turnpike’s Exit 113 in Augusta, the ban pushed heavy trucks onto Routes 2, 9, and 201, depending on the region. Before the interstate weight limit was limited, large trucks traveled “past schools, playgrounds, through downtowns, through railroad crossings, always in close proximity to people and traffic,” he said. “Everybody realizes it’s safer to have commercial truck traffic on the highway. The interstate was built for heavier weights; many of Maine’s secondary roads were not.” According to Parke, raising the weight limit drew accolades from MMTA members. “The feedback has been exceptionally positive,” he said. “We hear from members frequently about how much more efficient their supply chain has become by being able to avoid secondary roads and use the entire interstate system,” Parke said. According to Souers, Treeline trucks using the interstate burn “less fuel due to [less] starting and stopping” and experience less mechanical “wear and tear.” He cited “less driver fatigue” as another benefit, along with lower fuel costs and better deliveries due to “less chance of time variations on [road] trips.” For Gastia, the issue was public safety. For See WEIGHT, Page 3


Soon after Congress voted to raise the weight limit to 100,000 pounds on federal interstates in Maine and Vermont, two southbound six-axle log trucks rolled along Interstate 95 in Bangor.

BANGOR DAILY NEWS | Thursday | May 17, 2012 | 3

Weight Continued from Page 2 some years, large trucks surreptitiously bypassed Bangor, but only until the federal government intervened. “For a very long time, those five- and six-axle trucks were actually using [Interstate] 395, so they were bypassing downtown Bangor,” said Bangor Police Chief Ron Gastia. When notified about possible truckweight violations on I-395, the U.S. Depart-

“Why did we wait so long to do this?” BRIAN SOUERS, TREELINE INC.

ment of Transportation threatened to withhold federal highway funds if Maine did not ban overweight trucks from the highway. “So the state police began enforcing the truck weight laws on –395,” Gastia said. “That forced the trucks to take … the designated truck route … through downtown

Bangor and over onto Route 2 or Route 9 or wherever they were going. “When that happened, we began to see a significant increase in the number of these five- and six-axle trucks in the downtown area,” he said. According to Gastia, “to my knowledge nobody ever did an actual count” on how many large trucks came through Bangor every day, “but quite frankly we didn’t need to. They were just there, and you couldn’t ignore them. It was a very obvious increase in those numbers.” After large trucks appeared in Bangor, “I saw that as a significant safety issue, for both our pedestrians and our vehicular traffic,” he said. “These trucks were operating on some of our side streets because they were trying to avoid traffic lights.” Gastia described how some truckers, while inbound on Hammond Street (Route 2), would turn right onto Cedar Street to avoid the Hammond-Union traffic light and a subsequent right turn onto busy Union Street. These truckers would “take Cedar Street down over the hill and cut across [Main Street] and hit the Joshua Chamberlain Bridge,” he said. “From their perspective, I assumed some of them thought it was a safer way to go


A six-axle fuel truck travels with smaller vehicles on Interstate-95 in Bangor in January 2012.

because they didn’t have the traffic lights where they were constantly stopping and starting, particularly in the wintertime,” Gastia said. “But it created a safety issue for our residential population, because they were cutting through our residential neighborhoods,” he pointed out. “These trucks,” which “were driving over our crosswalks,”

traveled “on our streets particularly when we had high snowfalls” and icy, snowbank-narrowed streets. Accidents did occur; one truck rolled over attempting to turn onto Summer Street, and a pedestrian was run over and killed elsewhere by a large truck. At the Bangor Police Station, “it was not at all uncommon for us to see two and three See TRUCKS, Page 7

4 | BANGOR DAILY NEWS | Thursday | May 17, 2012

Drivers wanted: A strong demand exists for commercial truckers By Brian Swartz CUSTOM PUBLICATIONS EDITOR

Unemployment may remain high in many job sectors, but not in commercial truck driving. In fact, aspiring truckers often receive job offers before completing a comprehensive CDL program at Northeast Technical Institute, according to Career Services Administrator Cory Thibodeau. “Right now there are 400,000plus openings for CDLs” nationwide, he said, referring to the “Commercial Driver’s License” acronym that many in the trucking industry also equate with “commercial trucker.” Companies compete for experienced drivers with enviable safety records, and “the numbers of older drivers who are retiring is going up,” so “this is a good time to begin a career as a truck driver,” he said. At Northeast Technical Institute in Bangor and Scarborough, aspiring truckers receive “intensive hands-on training” while participating in a five-week, 200-hour CDL program, Thibodeau said. “It’s accelerated training. Students can come in and in five weeks’ time go for their [CDL] license.” To accommodate students who work during the week, a part-time course spread across 10 weekends is offered at NTI in Scarborough. With their classes running from 7 a.m.-5:30 p.m., Monday-Thursday, students enrolled in the fiveweek CDL program initially spend 78 hours (two weeks) “in the classroom with our CDL instructors,” Thibodeau said. Among subjects taught are keeping accurate log


At the Northeast Technical Institute’s driver training facility in Hampden, CDL instructor Bob Daigle (left) discusses a pre-trip inspection with Barry Wood of Old Town. Wood had reached the mid-point in the five-week CDL program offered by NTI; “I just started driving this week,” he said. “I had such a time finding seventh and eighth gears the first few days I was driving.” An Army veteran, Wood said that “I’ve been in the lumber business for the last 30 years, and I’ve gotten tired of the physical strain.”

books, truck-driving safety, and driver professionalism; associates from the Maine Railroad Association teach students how to approach and cross railroad crossings. Students also learn how to

develop effective resumes, how to contact prospective employers, and how to interview effectively with them. “Career building is an important service we offer our students,” Thibodeau said. From the classroom, students

shift to an NTI yard and spend 73 hours there learning “basic yard maneuvers, getting in the trucks and doing alley parking,” Thibodeau said. By now each student has obtained a state permit to train with a licensed CDL instructor,

who “assumes every student is not familiar with a stick shift,” he said. At NTI’s Bangor campus, students train with either Robert Daigle or Michael Francis, the two licensed CDL instructors. Daigle See DRIVERS, Page 5

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Drivers Continued from Page 4 joined NTI nine years; a former military trainer, Francis joined the company in 2002. At NTI’s yard on the Coldbrook Road in Hampden, students learn how to steer a big rig, typically a Kenworth, Mack, or White tractor combined with a 40- or 45-foot big trailer. “Before going out [to train] on the road, a student must demonstrate proficiency in the yard,” Thibodeau said. Actual road driving encompasses 23 hours and takes students and their instructors on local roads and highways, including Interstate 95. “They drive different equipment,” Thibodeau said, referring to CDL students. “We try to give them exposure to everything we can because they never know what they’re going to be driving for equipment,” he said. Students also spend 26 hours in a laboratory held at the Hampden yard. During the lab, students learn how to perform pre-trip inspections and observe what other students and the instructors are doing. After completing the CDL program, students can take the state’s comprehensive CDL test in Bangor; NTI provides the truck and trailer. If a student fails the state-mandated road test, NTI instructors work with that student to develop the requisite driving skills to pass the test. “We are committed to our students successfully passing our [CDL] program and becoming licensed drivers,” Thibodeau said. A student seeking a hazardous materials (hazmat) endorsement for a CDL must also pass a separate state test. Thibodeau indicated that “a typical [CDL] class” has six to 10 students. North-


Cory Thibodeau is the career services administrator at Northeast Technical Institute, which offers CDL training programs in Bangor and Scarborough.

east Technical Institute does not accept every applicant; “our admissions’ criteria match our partners’ placement criteria,” he said, explaining that NTI has “partnered with numerous companies throughout the industry” to “bring recruiters” to Bangor and Scarborough “and speak to the CDL classes.” Among the freight carriers collaborating with NTI are Central Maine Transport, H.O. Wolding, Schneider National Inc., and Werner Enterprises. As with freight carriers across the country, these companies review a driver applicant’s criminal history, job history, health history, and driving record. Different factors can disqualify a job applicant; similar factors can disqualify applicants for

Headed north in central Maine on a warm May afternoon, two out-of-state truck drivers “draft” on Interstate-95. Similar to stock-car racing, drafting improves the aerodynamics and fuel efficiency for the “following” truck.

NTI’s CDL program, too. According to Thibodeau, NTI — which is “the only nationally accredited trucking school in Maine” — has no shortage of CDL

program applicants. “A lot of them have wanted to drive the big rigs,” he said. “A lot of guys come here after losing their jobs in the construction trades or in white-collar jobs. “They know that pay and benefits are good at many trucking companies,” Thibodeau said. Some freight carriers offer full tuition reimbursement for NTI graduates who join those firms and stay with them for a specific time period. Women currently comprise 5-8 percent of CDL program students; NTI would like to see more women train for driving jobs, Thibodeau said. With NTI and its CDL program approved under the GI Bill, “more veterans are signing up,” he said. “We tend to get more mature students. They’re dead serious about completing the program and getting a job.” The demand is so strong for CDL drivers that freight carriers contact students before they graduate. “The majority of our students have job offers by the mid-point of their classes,” Thibodeau said. In the last CDL program, “one student had 11 prehires (job offers),” he said. “We’re not only placing entry-level drivers; we’re placing experienced drivers,” Thibodeau said.

6 | BANGOR DAILY NEWS | Thursday | May 17, 2012

Ambitious project targets 13 bridges, overpasses in Portland area By Brian Swartz CUSTOM PUBLICATIONS EDITOR

Thirteen bridges and overpasses between Exits 1 and 8 on Interstate 295 are receiving extra special attention from the Maine Department of Transportation this year. Dubbed the I-295 Northbound Project, the $7.9-million endeavor entails a complicated series of lane/ramp closures along the highway’s northbound lanes. Unlike the nearby $63 million Veterans Memorial Bridge scheduled to open between Portland and South Portland later this year, the I-295 project primarily encompasses bridge rehabilitation and involves no major new construction. The construction project does not affect southbound traffic on I-295. The company handling the project is Freeport-based CPM Constructors. The MDOT split the project into five “work zones.” Because construction will take place simultaneously in four zones, the MDOT recommends that motorists headed north beyond Portland take the Maine Turnpike to Exit 52 and then connect with I-


In May 2012, signs warn motorists northbound on southern portions of the Maine Turnpike to use Exit 52 to avoid traffic delays caused by repairs being done to 13 bridges and overpasses on Interstate-295 in South Portland and Portland.

295’s Exit 11 in Falmouth. Construction details for the five work zones are: • Work Zone One (Maine Turnpike Approach Road). Work started in April on the northbound I-295 overpass crossing the Maine Turnpike Approach Road near the

Maine Mall. The affiliated on- and offramps will remain open throughout the spring and summer. The overpass repairs should be completed “around September 1,” according to MDOT literature. • Work Zone Two (Westbrook Street). Construction workers started setting up staging at the northbound Westbrook Street (Route 9) overpass in March. All on- and off-ramps at Exits 2 and 3 will remain open,

and as in Work Zone One, overpass repairs should be done by Labor Day weekend. • Work Zone Three (Fore River Bridge to St. John Street). This particular part of the project will affect seven bridges and overpasses and will require on-ramp closures from Congress Street and Park Avenue in Portland. The affected bridges and overpasses are: • The Fore River Bridge; • The PTRR Overpass; • The Portland Connector/Westbrook Arterial Overpass; • The Congress Street/Park Avenue Overpass (this part of the project shut down the affiliated on-ramps in late March, but both should reopen in July); • The PTRR Overpass just west of St. John Street; • The St. John Street Overpass. The MDOT has established detours for motorists needing to access I-295 northbound from Congress Street or Park Avenue. Motorists are urged to use the onramps at the Fore River Parkway, Forest Avenue, or Franklin Street. Motorists using the Fore River Parkway on-ramp will encounter a temporary traffic signal that “will help regulate merging traffic during peak hours” (3-6 p.m., MondaySee I-295, Page 7


A moose statue displayed at the Kennebunk North Travel Plaza frames a J.J. Nissen truck northbound on the Maine Turnpike in May 2012.

BANGOR DAILY NEWS | Thursday | May 17, 2012 | 7

Venerable bridge comes down this fall


The venerable Waldo-Hancock Bridge will come down this fall and winter as the Maine Department of Transportation finally demolishes a span that has become an eyesore in the lower Penobscot Valley. The MDOT will request bids within the next several weeks and will budget $7.6 million to remove the rusting 2,040-foot suspension bridge - Maine's first - built to connect Hancock County and Waldo County and eliminate long upriver drives to cross the Penobscot River at Bangor and Brewer. Maintenance crews discovered in 2003 that the bridge has physically deteriorated past rehabilitation; a major construction project saw the adjacent Penobscot Narrows Bridge built and opened within a few years. Because osprey and peregrine falcons nest on the bridge, actual demolition cannot

start until Oct. 1. Crews will remove the bridge deck and suspension cables by using barge-mounted cranes to lower steel to waiting barges. The two towers will be the last bridge components to be torn down; the bridge's steel will be recycled. Due to high costs and environmental concerns, the MDOT will not remove the bridge piers. Although some people have suggested creating a scenic overlook by leaving intact the bridge deck extending from the Prospect shore to the nearest pier, the MDOT has opted to take down the Prospect tower to pier level. Plans call for a contractor to place navigational lights on the piers to prevent boats from colliding with them. The project has a scheduled completion date of June 2013.

Continued from Page 6


For companies that operate large trucks, lifting the weight limit has made a difference as fuel prices rose during the winter. Treeline customers “have been able to keep the cost of hauling their products more stable than they would have been in light of rising fuel prices,” Souers said. “I personally know of at least one [MMTA] member who called to tell me they were able to hold steady on their customer pricing due to the improvement in their comparative transportation costs,” Parke said. “There is obvious fuel-and-equipment savings that are being quantified now that the more productive trucks are allowed on the interstate, but we won’t know the extent of these savings for a while,” he said. “Whatever savings have been realized are being chewed up by increases in fuel costs,” Parke said. “Most of our members who are benefiting from” higher weight limits “operate on slim profit margins, and they are happy to be able to continue to provide good jobs to their Maine employees,” he said.

Continued from Page 3 five- and six-axle trucks [traveling] back to back … right in front of the police station,” Gastia said. “The trucks traveling by, they would rattle the windows in the building. We could hear [the trucks as] they were gearing down” while “coming around this corner and heading down over Cedar Street,” he said. Large trucks queuing at “some of our intersections” caused “some traffic backups,” especially when only one truck could clear a traffic light, Gastia said. “Now … we’ve got a line of traffic” and “sometimes some very agitated drivers, because they’re in a hurry, and they can’t make it through the light because the truck is blocking them.” With the large trucks gone from Bangor streets, local police officers can “focus more” on other traffic issues,” Gastia said. “We have enough people who speed … run red lights or display road rage.”

Friday), according to an MDOT press release. • Work Zone Four (Forest Avenue and Exit 6 to Franklin Street and Exit 7). This is the only part of the I-295 Northbound Project not currently under way. Work will start in July on the overpasses at Forest Avenue, Preble Street Extension, and Franklin Street; plans call for the work to be completed by late September. David Sherlock, manager of the MDOT Bridge Program, indicated that Work Zone Three and Work Zone Four involved the overall project’s most intensive activity. “We decided not to be working on the two biggest segments of the project at the same time, which will reduce the likelihood of traffic backups,” he said. The northbound Exit 6A on-ramp and northbound Exit 6B off-ramp will be closed in Work Zone Four. Motorists needing to access the highway northbound from Forest Avenue can take a detour on Marginal Way to Franklin Street and use the Exit 7 northbound on-ramp. • Work Zone Five (Washington Avenue

on-ramp). Work started in April on the northbound on-ramp that carries Washington Avenue (Route 26) onto I-295 just before Tukeys Bridge. No ramp closures are involved in this phase, which should be completed by Sept. 1. Although restricted to one lane, the Washington Avenue on-ramp will remain during the project. The highway speed will be reduced to 45 miles per hour in all five work zones. Motorists caught speeding will face doubled fines. The MDOT has set up eight webcams between the Fore River Parkway and midway between Exits 7 and 8. The webcams update I-285 traffic information in five-minute increments. To access a particular webcam, log onto dex.php and click on the appropriate camera symbol. “Safety is always our first priority,“ said Joyce Taylor, who heads the MDOT’s Bureau of Project Development. “We’ve worked very closely with our engineers in modeling different strategies for preventing accidents and minimizing inconvenience for motorists. We believe we have a very workable plan.”

8 | BANGOR DAILY NEWS | Thursday | May 17, 2012

Bridge, road projects will improve Midcoast transportation routes By Brian Swartz CUSTOM PUBLICATIONS EDITOR

From Stockton Springs to Lower Penobscot Bay, construction projects slated to take place this summer will improve an airport, bridges, and roads. Motorists will soon encounter a major construction project in Stockton Springs, where a contractor will replace the Church Street overpass across Route 1. According to MDOT Project Manager Stephen Bodge, the existing 126-foot bridge was built in 1957. “It’s got some pretty severe cracking and spalling of the concrete, where the concrete deteriorates to the point where it starts to fall off,” Bodge said, explaining why the MDOT will replace the bridge. “Most of that is on the substructure units, the piers and abutments. “The deck is in poor condition as well,” he said. The MDOT regularly inspects the bridge; with the spalling, “we don’t want to take any chances over roadways,” Bodge said, referring to concrete possibly falling onto the highway.

length, “will have two abutments on the edge of the road. “We’re going to use MSE abutments, Mechanically Stabilized Earth abutments,” Bodge said. Each abutment will be formed from compacted gravel, and “the outside of that will be faced with concrete panels,” he explained the MSE concept. “We’re going to use gravel and [geotextile] fabric in the abutments. As the gravel stacks up, it will be compacted,” Bodge said. The construction project will not affect Route 1 traffic “except for two times when we take down the existing bridge over the road and we place the BDN PHOTOS BY BRIAN SWARTZ This spring, a contractor will remove the overpass that carries Church Street over Route 1 in new beams over it,” Bodge Stockton Springs. Priced at $1.22 million, the construction project will involve replacing the 55- said. The project schedules year-old, triple-span bridge with an 83-foot single-span bridge. Construction should be “two overnight closures for a completed this fall. total of five nights,” with traffic being diverted onto Main “That’s why we replacing it,” he said. The apparent low bid of $1,221,997.75 was Street in Stockton Springs, he indicated. The contract calls for Church Street to Project bids were opened on March 21. submitted by the Lane Construction Corp. of Cheshire, Conn. “It’s a good price. Our reopen by Oct. 21 and for the project to be original estimates were higher than that,” completed — including landscaping and paving — by Nov. 21. “We fully expect them Bodge said. As for the construction timeline, “we’ve [the contractor] to be ahead of that schedbeen talking about a mid-May [start] date,” ule,” Bodge said. Two other Stockton Springs projects may he said. The existing bridge has three spans: one ramp up as the overpass project winds down apiece extending from each abutment to the next fall. According to MDOT Project Mannearest pier and the third extending ager Sean Smith, these projects involve highbetween the piers. “We’re going to replace way safety improvements and Safe Routes to that with a single-span bridge” undergirded School bicycle/pedestrian improvements. “Those two [projects] are hand in hand,” by five steel beams, Bodge said. Currently “the two piers are on the edges he said. The highway safety-improvements projof the road,” he said. The new bridge, which See MIDCOAST, Page 9 “will be quite a bit shorter” at 83 feet in

A Massachusetts driver pulls out to pass an oil truck on Interstate 295 in Topsham in early May 2012.

BANGOR DAILY NEWS | Thursday | May 17, 2012 | 9

Midcoast Continued from Page 9 ect involves repairing or replacing catch basins and a closed drainage system along Main and Church streets. Plans originally called for the project to extend 0.67 miles from the Main Street-Route 1 intersection near Just Barb’s to the Cape Jellison Road. Costs have since reconfigured the project so that it stops at the Stockton Springs Town Office, “which is just short of the Cape Jellison Road,” Smith said. The Main Street drainage system has received “some minor repairs” in the past, and drains running beneath the street “are in relatively good shape,” he said. “It’s the drainage along the sides [of the street] and the catch basins that are in terrible shape. We will replace the entire drainage system on the [sidewalk] side” of Main Street. The Safe Routes to School project involves rebuilding the sidewalk along Main Street and along Church Street as far as the Route 1 overpass project. “The old sidewalk is in various stages of disrepair,” Smith said. “These projects will go out to bid later this fall. We’d like to see some of the drainage work done this year prior to snowfall. Then we would finish everything up next year,” he said. Smith is also the project manager for a road project that starts at the intersection of Routes 105-220 in Washington and extends 0.13 mile north to Old Union Road. “There’s an old drainage system there currently,” Smith said. “It needs to be replaced. The metal is starting to show its age.”

“A lot of what we do now is preventative maintenance, trying to get rid of the wheel ruts and add some structure...” SEAN SMITH, MDOT

Although the existing drainage system “is functioning … before too long it will start to cause us problems,” he said. “About eight years ago, our maintenance folks did some minor maintenance.” “When you come into the Village of Washington by the post office, there’s a monument in the middle. We’re starting there and working back down to the [Medomak] river,” Smith said. Currently estimated to cost between $64,400 and $75,200, the project will go out to bid soon, possibly in May, and “we expect to be done this summer in its entirety,” he noted. The MDOT has scheduled several paving projects in interior Knox and Waldo counties. “We’re working from Augusta to Jeffer-


A motorcyclist and a Peterbilt driver share Route 139 in Unity, a major crossroads town in western Waldo County. The Maine Department of Transportation plans to pave Route 202 from Unity to Dixmont later this year.

son [for 12.58 miles] on Route 17, and we’ve got a project from Unity to Dixmont on Route 202,” Smith said. “We’re working on a Searsmont-to-Belmont Route 3 project.” According to Smith, the MDOT will “shim” some road stretches with “a leveling course,” while “in some areas we may grind the road up and pave another 4 or 5 inches of new mix over the existing base. “A lot of what we do now is preventative maintenance, trying to get rid of the wheel ruts and add some structure to the highway,” he explained. “If we don’t try to pave and try to get the water off the road, it’s going to continue to deteriorate.” Other light paving projects currently in the planning or bidding stages include: • Route 73 in Saint George and South Thomaston; • Route 141 in Monroe and Swanville; • Route 173 in Lincolnville; • Route 215 in Jefferson; • Route 220 from Route 1 in Waldoboro to Friendship Village; • The North Palermo Road in Palermo and Freedom; • The River Road in Cushing; In Rockland, the MDOT plans to build new pilings and floats and install electrical pedestals at the Rockland Public Landing, which is popular with summer boaters. The project’s estimated cost is $94,200 to $110,000. The MDOT also plans to install new traffic lights at the intersection of Park Street (Route 1) and Broadway (Route 1A) in Rockland. The project will cost between $119,000 and $138,000. Out on Penobscot Bay, the MDOT has scheduled a resurfacing project at the airport on Matinicus Island. The project’s estimated cost range is between $163,300 and

$190,000. And on North Haven, the MDOT plans to replace a bridge that crosses Pulpit Harbor Cove on North Haven. The bridge provides

a key connection between the North Shore Road and the Middle Road. This project has been estimated to cost about $500,000.

10 | BANGOR DAILY NEWS | Thursday | May 17, 2012

Insurance agent discusses the coverages needed by truck owners By Brian Swartz CUSTOM PUBLICATIONS EDITOR

Insurance lets a commercial truck roll. Before a big rig ever leaves a yard, the truck, its contents, and driver should be insured, according to Pat LaVoie, a licensed insurance agent and the chief operating officer at the Varney Agency. The risks associated with not insuring or underinsuring a commercial truck could financially devastate the truck’s owner if an accident occurred. According to LaVoie, insurance requirements vary widely in commercial trucking. A common carrier or contract carrier will need “a motor-carrier policy that basically has two parts: liability and physical damage,” he said. • Liability coverage applies to bodily injury and property damage that an insured vehicle causes to someone else. “When you are hauling someone else’s property, you are regulated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration,” LaVoie said. “You’re driving on your rights as a trucker. A whole different set of laws and regula-


Hauling a dry van, an over-the-road tractor stops at the intersection of Routes 9 and 46 in East Eddington on a rainy afternoon in April 2012.

tions kicks in,” he said. Liability insurance typically establishes

“one limit per accident,” he said. “A typical for losses other than collisions,” LaVoie said. limit would be $1 million” combined for “Your truck’s in the garage for repairs, and property damage and bodily injury caused the garage burns down, and the truck burns to others in an accident. with it. Vandalism to a truck and flood damHe explained that FMCSA sets liability age: These are examples” of physical damage limit requirements “based on the type of that would be covered. cargo that is carried.” Such limits could LaVoie repeatedly stressed that a comrange from “a minimum of $750,000 to a mercial truck owner “should not assume maximum of $5 million. Those are typically that everything is automatically covered” by the limits determined on a per trucker basis” an insurance policy. Insurers differ in the by the FMCSA, LaVoie said. “It’s driven by the degree of hazard of what you typically haul,” he said. Required liability limits for a trucker hauling gasoline would be higher than limits for a trucker hauling potatoes or wood chips, LaVoie cited as examples. Under a motor-carrier policy, liability insurance should cover “non-owned vehicles and, if needed, hired vehicles,” he said. Liability insurance should An eastbound truck eases through a construction site on Route 2 in New Sharon. also cover “non-trucking liability exposure, which is sometimes referred types and amounts of coverage that they to as ‘bobtail coverage,’” LaVoie said. This offer; some carriers offer optional coverage. One optional coverage is called “GAP coverage would cover a driver taking “a coverage,” he said. Such coverage would “pay power unit to a repair shop,” for example. • The “physical damage” coverage provid- the difference if the trucker owes the bank ed by a motor-carrier policy would insure more than” an accident-damaged truck is against collision and comprehensive claims, worth, LaVoie explained. “This is important to ask your agent about. Truckers often have LaVoie indicated. “Collision covers physical damage to your fairly large loans on their trucks. With GAP own vehicles involved in a collision.” he said. coverage, the insurer would pay the loan “Get options on different deductible levels. balance if it was greater than the value of the truck. That can save you money.” See INSURANCE, Page 12 Comprehensive “covers physical damage

BANGOR DAILY NEWS | Thursday | May 17, 2012 | 11

Maine businesses face a Jan. 1, 2013 narrowbanding deadline

The countdown clock is ticking for two-way-radio users: Jan. 1. The FCC has also mandated that repair shops cannot Ninety percent of his customers have seen no range The Federal Communications Commission has mandated service 25 kHz radios after that date. reduction. The only ones having problems are those who that on Jan. 1, 2013, such radios must operate on narrowBesides public-safety agencies, every private business that already had scratchy coverage. Problems tend to be with band frequencies. Anyone caught using a wideband fre- uses two-way radios must upgrade or replace them and portable radios; the solution is to add repeaters to a tower or quency after that date could face hefty fines. modify its FCC license. Among such businesses are motor install repeaters in vehicles. The FCC mandated in December 2004 that two-way- carriers, construction companies, and logging contractors. “We’re finding that we’re not losing a lot of coverage, radio frequencies must change from 25 kHz bandwidth to Replacing wideband radios is expensive; “a new radio noticeably,” Ouellette said. “The newer radios perform bet12.5 kHz bandwidth by next New Year’s Day. Because “the averages $400-$600,” and an agency or business that owns a ter.” [radio] spectrum has gotten crowded over the years,” the tower-mounted repeater could spend $3,000 to $5,000 to Businesses that convert to digital two-way radios — existFCC wants “to squeeze as many voice-and-data channels for replace it, Ouellette said. ing dual-mode radios can be analog or digital — will enjoy each frequency,” said Gerry Ouellette, who owns Atlantic But there is good news. Since 1998, manufacturers have some benefits not available with analog. “Digital allows you Communications Inc. in Hermon. primarily produced dual-mode, 25 kHz/12.5kHz radios. “A to transfer data,” Ouellette said. “It allows for GPS, vehicle tracking, Voice Over Internet. Although 7½ years have passed since the FCC “It gives you a level of privacy,” he said, refermandate, there are still many in the public and ring to digital two-way. “We find the range is private sectors who have not made that switch. slightly better.” Many small towns and private businesses are in Each FCC license that an agency or business danger of missing the January 2013 deadline. possesses must be modified to show its compliSmall towns are a major concern, said John ance with the narrowbanding mandate. License Kingsbury, president of Whitten’s 2-Way Service updates can be submitted online or by mail, but in Brewer. Volunteer fire departments, for exameither way, they should be submitted ASAP; the ple, are already cash-strapped, so the radios are on FCC is currently backlogged 90 to 120 days on the back burner. processing license changes. “It’s affecting them the most because the budgAs latecomers file, that backlog will likely ets are limited,” Kingsbury said. “Do they get a lengthen. new fire truck or do they meet the federal require“We have hundreds of customers, and their ments to upgrade the radios?” licenses need to be modified,” Ouellette said. “For some of these fire departments, it’s been Kingsbury continues to worry about small difficult to come up with the funds,” Ouellette towns that desperately need radio service, but said. which will face bigger problems if they don’t There are a few exemptions to the narrowbandBDN PHOTO BY BRIAN SWARTZ make the change. He suggests that towns band ing requirement: On Jan. 1, 2013, all Maine businesses and public-service agencies with together to order equipment to share in a quan• Marine radios, which need to stay consistent two-way radios that use 25 kHz (left) will no longer be able to broadcast on tity discount. It may be tough to convince the with international regulations; the bandwidth. The 25 kHz radios must be replaced by two-way radios taxpayers, but that they’ll understand when their • CB radios; (right) that broadcast on 12.5 kHz. emergency services are unable to properly com• Recreational walkie-talkies; • Tone pagers that “receive only” (but not audio pagers lot of customers ended up with radios that can be upgraded municate during a crisis. “Their local fire departments need their support,” he said. like fire departments use); easily” to narrowband, Ouellette said. Shops that sell and service two-way radios will be busy • Cell phones and cordless phones. Upgrading involves a technician reprogramming a dualEvery other device that constitutes a two-way radio must mode radio with a laptop computer and the appropriate this year. “The last three months (of 2012) will be interestbe converted. Upgrading is not optional, and the FCC software. There is a cost involved, but customers will pay less ing for me,” Ouellette said. “I think there’s going to be some reportedly could hit violators with fines of up to $10,000 per to upgrade existing dual-mode radios than purchase new concern whether they (two-way radio owners) can make the deadline or not.” incident per day. narrowband radios. To learn more about narrowbanding and its requireSome businessowners either do not know about the FCC Kingsbury said there has been one pleasant surprise with ments, log onto, offered by mandate or believe that the FCC will not catch violators in narrowbanding. Maine. “I had a customer with 40-plus [radios] saying, ‘We’ll “We were always told there would be a 20-to-25-percent the law firm of Shulman Rogers Gandal Pordy & Ecker, P.A. take the risk,’” Kingsbury said. loss of range when you go to narrowband,” he said. “We’re There is no charge to use the Web site, which is an excellent information source. However, FCC investigators will look for violators after finding out that that isn’t the case.”

12 | BANGOR DAILY NEWS | Thursday | May 17, 2012

Insurance Continued from Page 10

Insurance requirements are less regulated for companies “hauling their own products,”

LaVoie said. “For example, in structuring an insurance program for a wholesaler, you would use a Business Auto Policy rather than a Motor Carrier Policy, and the insured and their agent would have more flexibility. Among the other types of insurance


Headed to a Kennebec Valley paper mill, a log truck travels south on East Front Street in Skowhegan. Trucks and truck cargos must insured to protect owners, operators, and customers against loss.

needed by motor carriers and truck owners are: • Cargo insurance. “This applies to your own goods as well as the goods of others,” LaVoie said. “The key thing to look for in your policy is exclusions.” He explained that exclusions “are lists of things that your insurance policy does not cover. Examples of common exclusions are currency, firearms, and tobacco products. “You don’t want to find out after a loss that your insurance doesn’t cover a particular cargo,” LaVoie said. “Cargo policies are all different. Check with your agent to find out what is excluded. If you’re hauling a type of cargo that’s not covered, you should attempt to get the exclusion eliminated, and if that is not possible, you might have to find another insurance carrier for cargo. If you’re a trucker, you want one policy that covers all your loads.” he said. LaVoie recommended that in addition to what types of cargo are excluded, a truck owner should also ask their agent what “perils are excluded.” He noted that “wetness of load” could be an excluded peril; “if the trailer develops a leak and the cargo gets soaked, you would not be covered if your cargo policy had this exclusion,” he said.

“These are the kinds of things you want to look for with the advice of your agent,” LaVoie said. Motor carriers or truck owners employing others usually have to carry Worker’s Compensation. “You should check with your agent to find out if you need it,” LaVoie said. The fine for not carrying Worker’s Compensation is significant, and if a company does not have such coverage and an

“You don’t want to find out after a loss that your insuance doesn’t cover a particular cargo.” PAT LAVOIE, VARNEY AGENCY

employee “gets injured that is entitled to Worker’s Comp, you and/or your company will probably be liable to pay the injured employee,” he said. Motor carriers should also carry General Liability, which covers non-motor vehicle liability for bodily injury and property damage, and building insurance if the company owns a building used in its business.

On the Move 2012  

Stories about Maine's trucking industry and its highways