Commerce Express Weekly Road Map: August 2nd, 2022

Keeping you informed on the latest news/insights in our industry.

 Commerce Express Blog

The greater part of our country has been blanketed by recurring heatwaves throughout the past several weeks. Triple-digit temperatures that are typically rare for most regions of the U.S. have made regularly scheduled appearances this summer. Clearly, frequent spells of high heat are not favorable conditions for most industries. For instance, power companies are feeling pressure to keep up enough energy production to meet consumer demand for air conditioning.

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Trucking Update

  • As of July 26th, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is accepting applications from motor carriers that have interest in being a part of the agency’s Safe Driver Apprenticeship Pilot Program for 18-20 year old truck drivers to operate on the interstate, Transport Topics reports. This pilot program is open to 18-20 year old drivers who already hold intrastate commercial driver licenses. Additionally, there is a rather strict training regimen for drivers, in-cab supervisors and motor carriers to follow in this program 
  • The cost of gallon of diesel has dropped 13 cents, to a nationwide average of $5.138 – which is now the sixth week in a row the price has been heading downward, data from the Energy Information Administration (EIA) shows. Still, the price of diesel is nearly $2 more expensive than a year ago, FleetOwner reports. Additionally, every region in the U.S. has seen diesel prices start to fall.  
  • The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) has more specifically defined what infrastructure funding is available, of which, the ‘bulk’ of the funding comes from the $1 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act that was recently enacted, Transport Topics news. Within the funds will help support improving highway safety, neighborhood equity opportunities, access to electric vehicles, climate change resilience, access to rail and transit, supply chain connectivity, active transportation corridors, and workforce development and training – the U.S. DOT has defined. Some recent announcements for funding include $1 billion dedicated to an annual competitive grant program to replace, remove and repair culverts. As well as $500 million dedicated for grants to advance smart city or community technologies that focus on efficiency and safety, Transport Topics says 

Did You Know: Windshield Mounted Video Cameras will Continue to Remain FMCSA Compliant

The FMCSA recently updated a rule which will allow certain vehicle safety technology devices to be mounted slightly lower on the interior of commercial motor vehicle windshields than was previously permitted.  
The modified rule will increase the distance of no more than 4 inches below the upper edge of the area swept by the windshield wipers, to 8.5 inches.  
Rail Update
  • Railroads will now be required to have two-person crews under a rule that was announced by the Federal Railroad Administration on July 27th, 2022. This new ruling comes after many in the industry trying to cut crews down to one person. The FRA says “railroads will be required to continue using two-person crews in most circumstances as they haul all kinds of cargo, including hazardous materials across the country. One caveat to this is short-line railroads that have already been using one-man crews will be able to continue to use them, if they can prove it is safe.  
  • BNSF is continuing with their temporary shipping embargo – an official ban on trade or other commercial activity with a particular country – of food, diesel and other commodity shipments throughout August, they announced last Wednesday. The reason for this embargo of many shipments was an effort to lower congestion that has created delays for the railroad and shippers, ports, and others – Supply Chain Dive reports. Additionally, BNSF will be issuing 30% more permits for the next 7-day period, which started on July 28th, after progress has been made in velocity throughout southern California. Customers can submit permit requests via this online form.  
  • Norfolk Southern is modifying some already existing operations, as well as layering on the new operating plan for intermodal and bulk movements. One adjustment NS is making is to reconvert the flat switching yards at the Macon Terminal in Georgia and the Bellevue Terminal in Ohio back to hump yards, Freightwaves reports. Back in 2020 those yards were flat switching but as switching demand has increased in both location since 2020, and NS has resumed the process of conventional operations at both facilities in order to move shipments faster and efficiently for their customers.  
  • For the week ending on July 23rd, 2022, total U.S. weekly rail traffic was at 498,901 carloads and intermodal units, which is down nearly 1 percent compared to the same time last year – the Association of American Railroad reports. Total carloads for the week were at 232,565 carloads, up 1.1 percent from the same time last year and U.S. weekly intermodal volumes were at 266,336 – which is down 2.5 percent compared to the same time last year.  
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