Commerce Express Weekly Road Map:

May 23rd, 2023

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

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Commerce Express Blog

Tornado Alley, A Dangerous Travel Lane for Truckers

Last December, a large weather system swept across the country. From the Sierra Nevada to New England, all parts of the U.S. were impacted by either blizzard conditions or tornadic thunderstorms.

As we make our way through May, the latter of these severe weather conditions is now the one to worry about.

Tornado season is now upon us. While these violent vortexes can appear in most regions of the country, the Great Plains is the most vulnerable. This is where the infamous Tornado Alley exists.

Read More Here

Different make and models big rigs semi trucks with semi trailers standing in row on truck stop parking lot for rest and comply with the movement according to the schedule for successful delivery

Trucking Update

Harvest and Produce Season Begins

U.S. harvest season 2023 has begun, which can mean capacity and pricing challenges. Especially for refrigerated and dry van capacity.  

Since the trucking market today is pretty oversupplied, due to the market not yet contracting truckload capacity in a material way, it’s likely that this year’s season will not create the typical capacity and pricing challenges.  

Florida and Georgia typically are the first markets to harvest and have produce demand on refrigerated trucks.  

Capacity continues to be “pulled” through late spring, summer and fall including Texas, Southern California, imports from Mexico, and a general northward drift from the growing regions throughout the U.S.  

The season concludes with fall products – pumpkins, melons, and apples – from the Pacific Northwest, plus cranberries in Wisconsin, etc.  

All Eyes on Truck Parking at Capitol Hill

The Transportation and Infrastructure Committee is scheduled to vote on the Truck Parking Safety Improvement Act at a hearing on May 23rd 

This potential legislation would authorize $755 million through fiscal 2026 that would expand access to parking for truckers.  

This is not the only potential legislation that will be discussed at this hearing. A wide range of supply chain bills such as the Supply Chain Improvement Act, Ocean Shipping Reform Implementation Act, and more, will be considered.  

Trailer Orders Were Down in April

Preliminary data shows U.S. trailer orders dropped 49 percent year-over-year. They also dropped 40.5 percent from the month prior.   

Industry officials at ACT Research firm says demand appears to be softening, even against strong comparisons. But, backlogs are still present.  

Additionally, some say order flows will continue throughout the next few months, but they don’t expect them to outpace production until the market hits the normal order cycle later this year… some around July/August, but for others September/October. 

Did You Know: Highway Traffic This Memorial Day

Triple A expects 42.3 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more from home during Memorial Day weekend – up 7 percent from last year.  

Suggested best and worst times to travel on the highway during the long weekend:  

    • Thursday, May 25th: Worst time 3-6pm. Best time is before 1pm.  
    • Friday, May 26th: Worst time 3-6pm. Best time is before noon.  
    • Saturday and Sunday: Minimal traffic impact  
    • Monday, May 29th: Worst time noon-3pm. Best time is before 10am. 
    • Tuesday, May 30th: Worst time 4-6pm. Best time is before 2pm and after 6pm.
Distribution and transportation using railroads.
Rail Update

BNSF Launches New Intermodal Service

This new intermodal service will link Port Houston with Dallas/Fort Worth and Denver, starting on June 2nd 

Specifically, this service is between Barbours Cut and Alliance, as well as from Barbours Cut to Denver. Alliance-Barbours Cut service will run on Tuesdays and Thursdays, with the Denver service operating on Fridays – per Trains.

BNSF say these new intermodal service schedule updates have “the potential to increase in frequency to meet growing intermodal demand at the Port of Houston.”  

Union Pacific Plans to Move Intermodal Traffic From Global 1 Terminal to Global 2 Terminal

UP will move their intermodal traffic from their Global 1 terminal in Chicago to the expanded Global 2 terminal in Northlake, Illinois – effective June 19th.

New features at their Global 2 terminal include: lift capacity increasing by 95%; paved parking by 160%; ramp staffing by 20%; and production tracks by 80%. The terminal also has six new cranes, plus their automated outgate has been expanded.

Weekly Rail Traffic for the Week Ending May 13th, 2023 

  • Total U.S. weekly rail traffic was 466,381 carloads and intermodal units, which was down nearly 6 percent (5.9 to be exact), compared to the same time last year.  
  • For the first 19 weeks of this year, North American rail volume was down 4 percent compared to last year. U.S. weekly intermodal volume was down 11.5 percent (240,810 containers and trailers), compared to last year at this period.
  • Motor vehicles and parts, petroleum and petroleum products, and non-metallic minerals all posted increases for the week ending May 13th, compared to last year.  
  • For the first 19 weeks of this year, North American rail volume was down 4 percent compared to last year.
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