Commerce Express Weekly Road Map:

November 7th, 2023 

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

Trucking –

  • The Memphis Pool of Choice (MPOC) – has fully launched in Memphis.
    • The goal of this new chassis pool is to provide a better experience for frustrated truckers and cargo owners over which chassis is allowed to be used to haul ocean containers.
  • As of November 6th, the national average price of diesel is $4.366 per gallon, dropping 8.8 cents from last week, per data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
  • At the Savannah ports, construction is expected to be concluded in mid-November, with no additional construction scheduled
    • This ending of construction will help alleviate some of the low-impact vessel backlogs at the port.

Rail –

  • Northeast Corridor in the U.S. is set to receive $16.4 billion in rail upgrades. 
  • New procedures at NS Austell in Atlanta, GA have started. These will require drivers to make appointments in the new system.
  • Out in St. Louis capacity is flowing and rail operations remain fair.
  • Due to a shortage of rail cars out at the ports of LA/LB, rail dwell times are rising.

Cross-Border –

  • At the Port of Montreal, negotiations for a new dockworker contract remain at a standstill.
    • The earliest a strike could happen would be early next year on January 4th, but there is a good chunk of time for an agreement to come to terms. As of now, the dockworkers are still working under their interim deal.
  • The U.S. is discussing whether to terminate a tomato trade agreement with Mexico, a decision is expected to be made in the next few months.
    • The main issue is whether Mexico-based growers are dumping exported tomatoes into the U.S. at lower prices that hinder the domestic market.

Transportation Jobs in the Trucking Industry See a Dip, Again

For the last four of the last five months, truck transportation jobs have seen a decline.

The month of October saw a decline of 5,000 seasonally adjusted jobs – per data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics – which was actually less of decline than what July and August showed.

Those jobs in June saw a decline of 1,400, 6,900 in July, and 30,700 in August (largely due to Yellow Corp ceasing operations). However, in September, there was an increase of 13,400 jobs but that total was down by 900 jobs in a recent revised report and reported on by Freightwaves.

On a non-seasonally adjusted basis, total truck transportations jobs in October was 1,589,700.

Nearly $300 Million in Grants Towards Improving Truck Capacity at Ports

The U.S. Department of Transportation recently announced the winners of the latest grant funding for port projects.

A total of 41 port projects will be receiving money through the program this year. Eleven of those projects will have improvements that will be focused on boosting truck freight in and out of coastal and inland ports.

One of the recipients, the Port of Long Beach, will receive $52.6 million towards their North Harbor Improvement Project. Another recipient, the Port of Tacoma will receive a $54.2 million grant towards ‘reconfiguring’ the terminal yard to improve truck circulation, Freightwaves reports.

U.S. DOT Announces $82.6 Million in Road Safety Grants

Forty-six states will receive a portion of the $82.6 million for various road safety grants. Some of the states include Colorado, Florida, Indiana, New Jersey and Vermont.

One of the recipients, Pasco County in Florida, will receive $320,000 in funds which will go towards funding a $400,000 safety action plan to address transportation-related fatalities and serious injuries that can occur on country roads.

Another recipient, New Jersey’s Edison Township, will receive $320,000 in funds that will be used towards a safer travel plan due to its high urban population, heavy truck traffic, etc.

In the announcement, the DOT stated that these funds will “help communities develop safety action plans, inform improvements along corridors with safety issues, use ‘quick-build’ strategies to test out safety features, and more.”

Commerce Blog

St Lawrence Seaway Strike Ends After Tentative Deal Reached-01

On October 22, some 360 Canadian workers with Unifor, Canada’s largest private-sector union, walked out as a labor-related action over wage disputes with their employer St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corp.

A strike of this magnitude hasn’t occurred on the St. Lawrence Seaway since 1968. The Chamber of Marine Commerce estimated that $100 million per day in economic activity was lost across the U.S. and Canada.

Read more here 

Union Pacific Plans to Invest Millions Towards Projects

Union Pacific is investing $275 million for projects in Southern California to help support customer growth.

UP’s intermodal terminal ramps will see more than a million going towards there lift capabilities, as the railway anticipates strong growth in that area.

UP will also be investing towards various infrastructure upgrades, including into the Fritz Inland Empire Intermodal Terminal.

Total Weekly Rail Traffic for the Week Ending October 28th, 2023

  • Total U.S. weekly traffic for this week was 499,389 carloads and intermodal units – down 1.2 percent compared with the same time last week, per AAR data.
  • U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 227,575 carloads – which was down 4.2 percent compared to the same time last year.
  • Chemicals, petroleum and petroleum products, and farm products (excluding grain and food), all saw increases. While coal, non-metallic minerals, and grain all saw decreases.
  • North American rail volume for the first 43 weeks of this year was 28,145,583 carloads and intermodal units – down 3.5 percent compared to last year.

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