DOT Raises Maximum Denied Boarding Compensation, Liability Limit for Domestic Airline Baggage. The U.S. Department of Transportation has raised the limits on compensation to “bumped” passengers and settlements on domestic baggage claims, effective August 25, 2015. The limit on compensation to passengers who were involuntarily bumped from an oversold flight was increased from $650 to $675 for bumpings resulting in short delays. The limit doubles for lengthier delays. The denied boarding compensation for a given passenger depends on his or her fare and may be less than the limit. In addition, the Department has raised the liability limit for lost, delayed, and damaged baggage in domestic transportation from $3,400 to $3,500. Airlines will not be allowed to assert a liability limit lower than $3,500 for domestic transportation. Individual baggage settlements are based on the value of lost or damaged items or the passengers’ expenses due to delayed bags, and thus are often lower than the limit. The Federal Register notice is available at here. Contact: Caitlin Harvey: (202) 366-4570.
USDOT Releases Technical Reports on Truck Size and Weight. The U.S. Department of Transportation released today a series of technical reports on truck size and weight for peer review and public comment as a major step moving toward the completion of the comprehensive study called for in the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21). Specifically, MAP-21 directed the Department to study the issues associated with trucks operating within and in excess of current size and weight limits and assess the impacts on safety, pavement and bridge deterioration, enforcement, and shifts to other modes of transport such as rail. The five technical reports released today cover the study areas. While pointing to significant data limitations to complete a comprehensive study, the technical reports provide an opportunity for experts in the field to comment in anticipation of the final report to Congress. Importantly, the Department finds that the data limitations are so profound that no changes in the relevant laws and regulations should be considered until these limitations are overcome. The Department will meet with an independent peer review team managed by the Transportation Research Board (TRB) and seek public comment as it works to develop the Final Report to Congress. Contact: Nancy Singer: (202) 366-0660.
FHWA Awards Grants to Encourage Better Bridge Construction and Maintenance. The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), through its Accelerated Innovation Deployment (AID) Demonstration program, has awarded grants that will be used to deploy innovations in New Hampshire and Wisconsin. The New Hampshire DOT will use a $355,000 grant to create “smart infrastructure” in the form of a self-diagnosing, self-reporting bridge monitoring technology at Portsmouth’s Memorial Bridge. The Wisconsin DOT will use a $676,000 grant for accelerated bridge construction, an innovation supported by the FHWA’s “Every Day Counts” initiative, featuring a geosynthetic-reinforced soil-integrated bridge system which will replace two deficient bridges in Dodge County, Wis. For more information on FHWA’s AID Demonstration program, visit http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/accelerating/grants/index.cfm. Contact: Neil Gaffney: (202) 366-0660.