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Since the dawn of containerization, ship lines and truckers have been arguing over who's responsible for maintenance and repair of intermodal chassis. During the last several years, the debate has spilled over from Washington, D.C., to state legislatures. The results could be far-reaching.
California is the latest state to consider laws governing responsibility for intermodal chassis. The California Assembly has passed legislation to close what the bill's proponents de-scribe as a loophole that permits infrequent inspections and poor maintenance. South Carolina, Louisiana, Illinois and Texas also have passed laws dealing with various aspects of the issue.
Roadability, to use the industry jargon, is a contentious issue. Most chassis that carry international containers in the U.S. are provided by ship lines, unlike in Europe, where they are owned by truckers, Truckers complain that many chassis don't meet operational or safety standards and that drivers …