Commerce Express Weekly Road Map:

December 20th, 2022

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

Commerce Express Blog

It's Been Quite the Week for Weather-01

An otherwise unassuming stretch of December has turned into a week of weather warnings.

A large weather system has swept across the greater part of the U.S. over the last couple of days and is now impacting the East Coast, from Florida all the way up to Massachusetts. A good chunk of the system has also stalled and continues to dump a wintry mix of snow and cold rain over the upper Great Plains.

Read More Here

Lilac semi truck with aluminum trailer is moving along winding highway through the Grand pass in California against the background of orange sandstone mountain slopes and contrast green trees and small bushes and transporting commercial cargo to destination warehouse

Trucking Update

Possible Legislation Regarding Bathroom Access for Truck Drivers 

This potential legislation – The Trucker Bathroom Access Act – would require commercial warehouses, retailers and ports to allow truck drivers to use their restroom facilities when picking up or dropping off freight.  

One of the two U.S. Representatives, Chrissy Houlahan, who helped introduce this legislation, on Thursday, stated this “will give all truckers, and female drivers in particular, the confidence of having access to a restroom when they deliver goods to businesses and American families.”  

Some places that would not be covered would include rail facilities, and “any structure such as a filing station, service station or restaurant of 800 square feet or less that has a restroom located within such structure that is only intended for use by employees,” per Trucker News.

For the Third Straight Week Diesel is Down by Double Digits 

Currently, the U.S. diesel average dropped 15.8 cents to $4.596 per gallon, the U.S. Energy Information (EIA) reports. In comparison to the same time a year ago, diesel remains 97 cents higher.  

Diesel fell the most in the Midwest, where the fuel was reported down 17.4 cents to $4.477 per gallon. Diesel was down 16.7 cents to $4.860 in the Rocky Mountain region. On the East Coast diesel declined 16 cents to $4.847 per gallon. While on the West Coast, the decline was 14.9 cents to $5.138 and the Gulf Coast reported a 13.9 cent decline to $4.205.  

Emergency Orders Have Been Extended in Georgia and Nebraska 

For Nebraska these extended emergency orders are for driving hours hauling fuel – in an effort for relief due to regional fuel shortages.  

While in Georgia, these emergency orders are for supply chain and oversize permits – this emergency order has been occurring since April 14th, marking it’s eighth time being renewed, Transport Topics reports.

U.S. DOT Announces Over $97 Million to Improve Interstate 81

The state of Virginia will receive $97.6 million in two new low-interest federal loans to improve safety and traffic flows throughout Interstate 81, from the U.S. DOT – per Transport Topics.

Some target projects for I-81 improvements would include: 

    • Adding truck climbing lanes to enable ascents at steep grades at lower speeds while maintaining regular traffic speeds for passenger vehicles 
    • Extend lanes for acceleration/deceleration to give drivers more time to adjust their speeds on entrance and exit ramps before merging into interstate traffic or encountering sharper curves and stops on exit ramps  
    • Widen to add a third lane for safety and capacity that can be only in one direction or both in north and south bound directions 

Nearly 50 percent of the state’s value of goods is transported along the I-81 corridor and Virginia has 11.7 million trucks that travel over I-81 per year.

Did You Know: Strong Trailer Orders in November Continue

Preliminary orders for dry and refrigerated vans and flatbeds totaled 39,000 in November, which is this year’s second-best level. 

However, it was 17 percent below October’s intake of 48,000 units.

White Rock, Greater Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada - July 25, 2021: A freight train riding through the city by the beach during a colorful summer evening.
Rail Update

Union Pacific Pausing Freight Rail Embargoes

Last week, the Surface Transportation Board had a hearing with Union Pacific, after it was brought to their attention that UP’s use of embargoes the last five years has been excessive.  

Now, Union Pacific is taking a pause on their freight rail embargoes – something that has been up significantly this year – according to CNBC.

Additionally, during the hearing, one of the topics that was also brought up was sick leave for unionized employees. Back in the beginning of December, the President signed a rail resolution bill – which was the tentative rail agreement the PEB came up with back in September – into law, which prevented a rail strike. 

Union Pacific CEO told the STB during the hearing that they definitely want to address sick leave and certainty in time off regarding terms of scheduling. He stated that, “there’s a host of ways we can get there… there’s economics that are available to make that happen.” 

Domestic Intermodal Volumes Dropping Rapidly 

Last month, domestic intermodal volumes dropped to their lowest November level – at least in the past seven years. On a year-over-year basis, volumes in North America fell just a little over 7 percent, the IANA reports.

Specifically, 725,398 containers and trailers were moved last month, which is down from 780,448 units in November last year. And, as IANA reports, domestic intermodal volumes have fallen sequentially eight out of 11 months this year, as well as six out of the last eight months. 

Total U.S. Rail Traffic for the Week Ending December 10th, 2022

Total U.S. weekly rail traffic was 500,310 carloads and intermodal units, down 2.5 percent compared to the same time last year – data from the Association of American Railroads reports.

Total carloads for the week were 242,007 carloads – up 1.3 percent compared to the same time last year. While total weekly intermodal volume was 258,303 containers and trailers – down 5.8 percent compared to the same time last year, per the data.

Canadian railroads posted 80,453 carloads for the week – up 11.5 percent – and 63,300 intermodal units – down 1.9 percent compared to this time last year. Mexican railroads reported 22,828 carloads for the week – up 13.4 percent – and 16,708 intermodal units – 11.8 percent compared to this time last year, per the data.

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