Commerce Express Weekly Road Map:

April 25th, 2023

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

Commerce Express Blog

Earning a Passing Sticker at International Roadcheck-01

International Roadcheck 2023, trucking’s annual 72-hour safety bonanza, is set to kick off May 16.

Driven by the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA), certified inspectors across North America will conduct examinations of commercial trucks and drivers at designated inspection and weigh stations.

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American style truck on freeway pulling load. Transportation theme. Road cars theme.

Trucking Update

FMCSA Denies Hours-of-Service Exemption for Propane Haulers

Last year the National Propane Gas Association (NPGA) asked the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration for a five-year exemption to daily and weekly hours-of-service regulations.  

The NPGA said it would help propane haulers serve residential, commercial and agricultural consumers during peak demand periods. They were asking the FMCSA to allow propane haulers the flexibility to extend the daily 14-hour driving window to 17 hours, and the driving limit within that window from 11 hours to 14.  

However, the FMCSA has denied that exemption as it “would not achieve a level of safety that is equivalent to, or greater than, the level that would be achieved without the exemption. 

Truck Tonnage in the U.S. Rose in March, but Doesn’t Quite Meet Expectations

The unadjusted for-hire truck tonnage index – which measures the gross tonnage of freight which is transported by motor carriers in the U.S. for a certain month – by the ATA showed some seasonal strength, at an increase of 9.3 percent in March compared to February, but not as much strength as many expected. 

Officials at the ATA said falling home construction, decreasing factory output, and soft retail sales all put a dent in contract freight tonnage for the month of March.  

This increase, even though it’s less than desired, still is encouraging for those that look for a return of more normal seasonality in freight shipping but should also be noted that it’s still an uphill battle. 

North American Freight Market Updates

Southeast United States:  

    • At the port of Charleston, expect an increase in driver wait times, chassis split charges, and crosstown fees until the SMART Pool program goes live in May 
    • Port of Savannah is eliminating evening hours and returning to pre-pandemic hours of operation 

Northeast United States: 

    • With volumes slowing, warehouse transloading services remain abundant 

Central/Ohio Valley: 

    • In Chicago, chassis availability has improved significantly 
    • Nashville/Memphis has been experiencing a 2-3 hour turn for returning empty containers from IMCs 
    • In Kansas City, 40’ chassis supplies are more available 
    • In Cleveland, dray carriers have reported limited/no chassis available for international containers 

West and Gulf Coasts: 

    • Labor negotiation talks continue  
    • Backlog of anchored vessels is no longer a problem 

Cross-border shipping: Canada 

    • Capacity remains generous for north and southbound cross-border and intra-Canada freight 
    • A strike is impacting various Canadian government employees and federal public servants. The Canada Border Services Agency says they expect that CBSA services to travelers and businesses will be maintained throughout the strike. 

Did You Know: Inland Port Dillon Sees Record Month

Port Dillon, an inland port at the South Carolina Ports recorded its busiest month in March, moving more than 4,300 containers. The month prior in February, the facility saw rail moves be at 3,664.  

The Port Dillon facility connects the Pee Dee region of South Carolina to the Port of Charleston via eastern U.S. railroad CSX. The facility handles a lot of agricultural exports and imports of retail goods. 

Palm Springs, California, USA - January 23, 2021: Union Pacific Freight train and Wind Turbine at Palm Springs Amtrak Station (PSN).
Rail Update

BNSF Taking a Closer Look at the Role Fractured Rails Played in a MN Derailment 

On March 30th, a train derailment in Raymond, Minnesota occurred involving 23 mixed freight railcars, 10 of which were tank cars carrying denatured ethanol, per a report by the National Transportation Safety Board. 

Investigations by the NTSB on-scene in April found that hazardous material was released from five derailed tank cars, and two tanks had sustained punctured shells, which released the denatured ethanol.  

Furthermore, after the incident, BNSF shipped the section of fractured rail to rail lab in Topeka, Kansas for more analysis.  

Estimated damages to the infrastructure of the track and equipment are around 1.9 million dollars. No fatalities or injuries were reported.  

Weekly Rail Traffic for the Week Ending April 15th, 2023

  • Total U.S. weekly rail traffic was 468,197 carloads and intermodal units, down 4.4 percent compared to the same time last year. U.S. weekly intermodal volume was down 12.8 percent in that same period.  
  • Non-metallic minerals, motor vehicles and parts, and metallic ores and metals all posted increases from the same time last year. While miscellaneous and forest products posted decreases.  
  • Total combined U.S. rail traffic for the first 15 weeks of this year was a 5.7 percent decrease compared to last year at this time. 
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