Commerce Express Weekly Road Map:

April 2nd, 2024 

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

Trucking –

  • As of April 1st, the national average price of diesel is $3.996.
  • Amidst the bridge collapse in Baltimore, chassis providers feel confident that the current equipment pools are sufficient and can adjust to cargo diversions away from the port of Baltimore.
    • They do however, caution, that chassis could be occupied longer if the drayage haul is longer than usual due to containers landing at other ports.
  • City of Baltimore is asking truckers to refer to the GIS map for the latest route information at Baltimore City Official Truck Routes.
    • This is an effort to decrease the impact of traffic changes from the collapse of the bridge earlier last week.
    • Commercial vehicles hauling oversize or hazmat cargo should look to using I-695 between Essex and Glen Burnie – additional driving time is expected by using this route, however.

Rail –

  • Port of Vancouver has been dealing with some rail backlogs. Improvements have been made in recent weeks, but it’s likely that it will take some time for the backlog to clear.
    • BNSF is also working through some rail backlogs in Southern California. Largely due to the increase of container volume on the USWC, as less volume has been going through the Panama Canal.
  • Railways moved $15.6 billion of freight in January 2024, down 6.9% compared to January 2023.
  • Federal Transit Administration has opened public comment, till May 24th, on a proposed rule to improve rail transit worker safety.
  • CSX is adding a new route, starting April 2nd, for rail freight that was originally destined to Baltimore but will now be rerouted to the Port of NY/NJ.

Baltimore Bridge Collapse, Impacts on Trucking

Around 1:30am on Tuesday, March 26th, the Dali (cargo ship) hit Baltimore’s Francis Scott Key Bridge causing the bridge to collapse.

The ship, carrying 4,900 containers, departed from the Port of Baltimore at 1:00am and was just 30 minutes into its route to Sri Lanka before the collapse occurred, several news outlets reported.  

The Port of Baltimore has since closed inbound and outbound vessel traffic, but truck operations at terminals inside the port would continue, per reports. There is no clear timeline for when the port will reopen.

The port is the top U.S. port for volume of autos and light trucks.

“Nearly 4,900 trucks travel the bridge each day, with $28 billion in goods crossing every year,” Sean McNally, VP of Public Affairs and Press Secretary for the American Trucking Associations told FleetOwner.

He continued, “trucks moving hazardous materials will now be subject to roughly 30 miles of detours around the city of Baltimore because they are prohibited from using the city’s tunnels.” This will add extra time, fuel, money, and delays for those going through the area.

Commerce Express extends our thoughts to all those involved in this tragedy.

U.S. EPA Releases Truck Emissions Standards, Trucking Industry Reacts

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released their final rule for “Greenhouse Gas Emissions Standards for Heavy-Duty Vehicles – Phase 3”. This relates to companies that manufacture, sell, or import into the United States new heavy-duty highway vehicles and engines.

The EPA says these new regulations – which take effect for model years 2027 and 2032 – will avoid up to 1 billion tons of greenhouse gas emissions over the next three decades and provide $13 billion in net benefits in the form of fewer hospital visits, lost work days and deaths.

Reaction from the trucking industry –

“ATA opposes this rule in its current form because the post-2030 targets remain entirely unachievable given the current state of zero-emission technology, the lack of charging infrastructure, and restrictions on the power grid,” ATA President and CEO Chris Spear said about these emission standards.

“The industry has effectively reduced NOx and particulate matters through the evolution and implementation of new technologies and remains committed to being a good steward of the environment,” says President of Truckload Carriers Association, Jim Ward.

Commerce Blog

Port of Thunder Bay Secures Funding for Capacity Projects-01

Situated on the northwest shore of Lake Superior in Canada’s Ontario province, the Port of Thunder Bay serves as a favorable waypoint between international markets and the deep Canadian hinterland.

In one of the longest supply chains in the world, Canadian Prairies grain producers are connected with European buyers via Thunder Bay. Deposits of grain are loaded onto bulk vessels which leave the port, navigate the inland St. Lawrence Seaway system, and ultimately arrive at overseas destinations, like Belgium’s Port of Antwerp or the Netherlands’ Port of Rotterdam.

Read more 

Norfolk Southern, CSX Working to Handle Delays, Rerouting of Shipments

As a result of last week’s Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore, CSX and Norfolk Southern are working with their respective customers, the Port of Baltimore and state officials to respond to delays, re-routing of shipments due to the incident.

CSX statement: “While freight traffic has not been entirely halted in the region, certain commodities have been affected by the incident. CSX is actively communicating with customers to provide updates on their shipment statuses as the situation evolves. It is important to note that domestic intermodal traffic on CSX destined for local Baltimore remains unaffected.”

Norfolk Southern’s statement: “Our network touches every major port on the eastern seaboard, and we have proactively reached out to help our customers and provide alternate routing solutions. Significant supply chain events demand a rapid response approach, frequent communication and innovative solutions, and NS is doing all three of these things to help our customers and partners navigate through this challenge.”

It remains to be seen how big of an impact and for how long the Port of Baltimore’s closure will be on the supply chain.

Total Weekly U.S. Rail Traffic for the Week end Ending March 23rd, 2024:

  • Total U.S. weekly rail traffic was 470,593 carloads and intermodal units, seeing a 2.1% increase from the same time last year, per AAR data.
  • Weekly U.S. intermodal volume was 255,316 containers and trailers, up 10.2% from last year.
  • Grain, chemicals and motor vehicles and parts all saw increases. While coal, non-metallic minerals, and metallic ores and metals all saw decreases.
  • For the first 12 weeks of this year, North American rail volume was 7,798,583 carloads and intermodal units – up 1.8% from last year.
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