New bill to be introduced would make heavy trucks pilot program permanent

first_imgDuring a visit to Champlain Oil Company in South Burlington Monday, U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy announced that he and U.S. Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) this week will introduce a bill making permanent a now-expired federal pilot program allowing heavy trucks to use the Interstate system in Maine and Vermont. Leahy was joined by Vermont legislative leaders, trucking advocates, state officials and business leaders in pointing to the economic, environmental and safety benefits of moving heavy truck traffic from Vermont’s state highway system to Vermont’s Interstate system.‘The higher truck weight standards in surrounding states create problems in Vermont when those trucks have to detour through our small towns on local roads,’ said Leahy. ‘The hodge podge of disjointed rules that has evolved in our region does not work for anyone, especially the communities that have had to absorb the added traffic. By now, neighbors like New York, New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Quebec all have permanent exemptions from federal Interstate weight limits. That means heavier trucks must travel over our smaller roadways, creating traffic and safety concerns and taking a toll on our already overburdened roads and bridges. The Vermont pilot program has proved itself, and it’s time to make it permanent.’Leahy and Collins authored legislation in the 2010 federal transportation budget bill that created a one-year pilot program in Vermont and Maine to study the effects of moving overweight truck traffic off state highways and onto federally funded Interstates. Their pilot program expired in mid-December and was blocked from being renewed in late December when Republican senators derailed a bill that included a measure by Leahy and Collins to extend the program. Current federal law restricts trucks weighing more than 80,000 pounds from regularly using the nation’s Interstate highway system. But portions of the Interstate network in neighboring states allow higher-weight trucks to operate on those Interstates due to special circumstances, from tolling to grandfather clauses. These exceptions, combined with a state law that allows trucks over 80,000 pounds to operate on Vermont’s secondary roadways, have resulted in heavier truck traffic rolling through Vermont on some of the state’s smaller roadways, creating safety concerns and putting pressure on the state’s aging transportation infrastructure.Last year Leahy helped convince President Obama of the merits of the Vermont and Maine pilot programs, and the White House released a statement that supported making the Leahy-Collins programs in Vermont and Maine permanent. The two leading transportation legislators from the Vermont State Legislature, Vermont State Senator Richard Mazza (D-Grand Isle), chairman of the Vermont Senate Transportation Committee, and Representative Pat Brennan (R-Colchester), chairman of the Vermont House Transportation Committee, explained that the Vermont Legislature supports trying to move heavy truck traffic off state highways and onto the Interstate system ‘ and has been considering state efforts to accomplish the goal.Representatives from the Vermont Truck and Bus Association, the Vermont Fuel Dealers Association, the Vermont Petroleum Association, the Vermont League of Cities and Towns, and the Vermont Agency of Transportation ‘ including Vermont Transportation Secretary Brian Searles — made remarks supporting the bill by Leahy and Collins during the announcement on Monday.SOUTH BURLINGTON, Vt. (MONDAY, Jan. 24) ‘# # # # # During a news conference Monday morning, Champlain Oil Company Vice President Bryan Cairns explained that during the Vermont pilot program, Champlain Oil Company saved 43,400 gallons of diesel fuel and traveled 320,000 fewer miles because the pilot program allowed them to deliver more efficiently.last_img read more


Police in South Wales implement facial recognition app despite open court cases against it

first_imgThe BBC is reporting that officials in South Wales have began using a facial recognition app despite having several open court cases against the use of the technology.It was reported that at least 50 officers were given use of the app which allows them to take photos of the public and compare those photos against a “watch list” and other photos already in their data base.Officials see the technology developed by the Japanese firm NEC, as helpful in their process of identifying those considered a threat to society and to cut back on crime, however, other’s believe the technology is an invasion of privacy and is “too inaccurate,” especially when it comes to identifying minorities.Deputy Chief Constable Richard Lewis told the BBC: “This new app means that, with a single photo, officers can easily and quickly answer the question of ‘are you really the person we are looking for?”.One of the ongoing cases was filed by a man who noticed his photo had been taken by officers in a police van, while he was out Christmas shopping:“By the time I was close enough to see the words ‘automatic facial recognition’ on the van, I had already had my data captured by it, the subject told BBC.“That struck me as quite a fundamental invasion of my privacy.”Several other cases echo his sentiment.The Civil rights group Liberty, has released a statement calling the use of the technology “shameful” especially in the wake of several open court cases.Other countries including the US, are currently wrestling with the idea of allowing the police force to legally use facial recognition software.last_img read more


Kolisi completes rags-to riches journey Mark Gleeson, Nick Mulvenney

first_imgCAPE TOWN/YOKOHAMA (Reuters) – Siya Kolisi completed his rags-to-riches journey from a dusty, poverty-stricken township on the eastern coast of South Africa to World Cup-winning captain on Saturday when he led the Springboks to victory over England.The first black man to captain the Springboks also became the first black player to raise the Webb Ellis Cup when his team thrashed England 32-12 at Yokohama International Stadium.Increasingly a symbol for South African unity, Kolisi did not even have a television set when the Springboks, cheered on by Nelson Mandela, won their second title in 2007. The captain of that team, John Smit, argued this 2019 triumph was even more significant.“For me, even as a guy who won it, this was a far bigger occasion because of where we’ve come from and where we’re going,” Smit said.“I always thought, was it too much of a fairytale to see Siya lift that trophy? It couldn’t have come at a better time. This will have a significant impact on our country.” Kolisi’s improved situation meant that he was able to celebrate the World Cup triumph in Yokohama with his best friend as well as his rugby-playing father.“We are really proud as South Africans. Not many people gave us a chance,” Kolisi told reporters. “It was special for all of us. I have never seen as much support as we had from the people back at home. I don’t know if we could have done it without them.“It has been awesome to have my Dad here to share this with him. And my best friend. An absolutely amazing day for all of us.“I had a conversation with my Dad. He was just happy. He’s much older than the players but they’re his heroes. I’m grateful I could bring him here.”Kolisi grew up in one of the few black areas of South Africa where rugby is as popular as soccer. Raised by his paternal grandmother, he did not pick up a rugby ball until he was seven.“BEST SHOT” His talent was quickly recognised, however, and gave him an opportunity to get away from life on the township streets as he won a bursary to Port Elizabeth’s top boys school Grey High.“Once I got my opportunity to play, I gave it my best shot,” he said on Saturday.“When I was 16, I thought, okay, maybe I can make something out of this. Coach Rassie (Erasmus) spotted me at 18 and brought me to the Stormers and I have been working hard since then.” It was Erasmus, now the Springboks coach, who handed Kolisi the South Africa captain’s armband and he explained why after Saturday’s triumph.“We had a good chat yesterday when we did the jersey presentation and he had his 50th test match running out in front,” he said. Erasmus said it was easy for people to get used to hearing stories of hardship and lack of opportunity and to therefore stop fully appreciating them.“The moment you hear that a lot, you almost get used to it.” he said. “As a team mate or rugby supporter or anybody. But when you sit down and think about it clearly, there are days when Siya went through that.“He had days when he didn’t have food. He didn’t have shoes to wear. He couldn’t get to school. Here he is as the captain and he has led South Africa to win this Cup. I think that should sum up what Siya is.”last_img read more