Friday, May 19, 2017

Connecticut DOT Commissioner Ignores Industry Request to Speak at Modular Summit

About a dozen modular home manufacturers and thirty or so home builders were on hand at the May 17th Modular Summit in Springfield, MA to hear from agency officials in New York, Massachusetts, and Connecticut.  Two out of three ain’t bad.
Despite repeated invitations and requests to speak to the industry (or at least explain why he vehemently opposes treating our industry in the exact same manner as he treats others), Connecticut DOT Commissioner James Redeker refused to face the music.  (No, he’s not hiding behind that podium).
After meeting with the DOT in early 2016 to express our frustration as to Connecticut’s completely ridiculous transportation requirements and gaining zero sympathy from the DOT, we sought legislative relief.  Senator Paul Formica and Representative Lesley Zupkas sponsored our industry bill to help bring the state somewhat back in line with neighboring state regulations.  The DOT testified against the industry bill and it died in committee.  In 2017, Formica and Zupkas sponsored a similar bill – this time simply requiring the DOT to treat the modular home industry in the EXACT SAME MANNER as other industries are regulated.  Again, the DOT testified against the bill, and again our bill died in committee.
The Commissioner claims that the DOT didn’t want to change the requirements for fear that they would be out of sync with the recommended guidelines from the American Association of State Highway Transportation Officials (AASHTO). Commissioner Redeker serves on the board of AASHTO and ironically their recommendations are exactly in line with what our industry bill would have accomplished.  For the Commissioner to use AASHTO as his excuse for inaction is, well, inexcusable.  He KNOWS Connecticut is an outlier with neighboring states. He KNOWS the state is out of sync with AASHTO recommendations. He KNOWS his regulations double the cost of transportation of modular homes to and through his state adding more burden to homeowners.  His response? “Make smaller boxes” proclaims the Commissioner. Does he make similar condescending remarks to the boating industry? The pool industry? The construction equipment industry – all of whom can ship oversize loads during the day? You can bet he does not!
About twenty years ago the industry was forced to sue the state for restraint of trade because of the state’s outright refusal to allow oversize shipments of modular homes.  As a result of that successful lawsuit, the state (addressing the issue at the bare minimum level) conceded and allowed modular home shipments, but only from midnight to dawn Sunday through Wednesday. Oversize yachts, pools, and equipment continue to travel during the day.  Meanwhile, modular shipments in New York must end at 3:00 daily Monday through Thursday and earlier on Fridays, meaning shipments must sit at the NY/CT border til midnight or later before crossing into CT.  The state also requires not one but two state police escorts (because, what else to troopers have to do).  And the troopers bill in a minimum of four hour blocks even if the trip is thirty minutes.
This complete shakedown by the State of Connecticut is a slap in the face of an industry trying to grow, but forced to spend resources on apathetic government bureaucrats who could care less about commerce.  Maybe publicly shaming the Commissioner will at least elicit a response. Commissioner?

Article by Tom Hardiman, Executive Director of the MHBA


Go Modular SIP Homes said...

The Summit Meeting was such a rare opportunity to meet State employees and officials, I'm sure it wasn't easy to pull together. Thank you both Gary and Tom for all you do that affects our business everyday, and the industry in general.

-Go Modular

Anonymous said...

Fact filled and right to the point. It's great that it is finally being brought into the light where action can be taken to allow modular housing the same freedom of travel every other state gives us.

Harris - Finish Werks said...

Redeker is a public servant. I have no problem inviting some "polite" commentary to this servant, particularly since I'll never be in CT.

From the gov't website:
REDEKER James P (860) 594-3000 Transportation, Dept Of