If you’ve driven through a large city, traffic and all, you may have seen signs denoting specific lanes for trucks carrying HazMat materials. They’re often set up around exits and major highways, loudly shouting for truck drivers to get off the interstate if they’re carrying HazMat material. “HazMat,” stands for “Hazardous Material,” by the way. Thought we should clarify that before we get started. Here in Texas, several cities such as Houston, Dallas, and San Antonio have already established HazMat lanes to ensure the safety of the city’s busiest highways. However, despite Austin’s status as the state capital and its reputation as one of Texas’s most progressive cities, it has no specified route for trucks carrying hazardous material. We have this, but no alternate routes for HazMat. Routing hazardous cargo through high-traffic areas puts the safety of the driver and others around at risk. Even if such a wreck doesn’t result in any injuries, it will probably cause some pretty heavy traffic delays (which we all know is an issue here without adding a HazMat wreck into the mix!). And while most (though interestingly enough, not everyone) agrees that the need for an alternate route for trucks carrying hazardous materials is a must, pinpointing the best solution to this problem proves to be more difficult. Some have suggested the 130 Toll Road as the best alternative to I-35. However, others worry that it is too far out of the way, and would present too much of an inconvenience for freight companies. Furthermore, federal law mandates that designated HazMat routes cannot include tolls or additional fees. And of course, once everyone finally agrees on a solution, they will also have to tackle the ongoing debate about who is going to pay for it all. Bureaucracy at its finest! Clearly there is more work to be done here. Austin must either alter the conditions of an existing route so that it presents a sufficient solution, or create a brand new route that will satisfy the requirements. Here’s hoping for a busy legislation season. CC photo courtesy Surian Soosay via Flickr
Sarah is on the Solutions Team at FreightPros. She loves being active -- whether it's swimming with her dog, dancing, practicing Krav Maga, or just doing something silly like Prancercising (look it up, it's great). Unusual talents include: falling asleep at the drop of a hat, identifying different species of trees, and winning radio contests.
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