More regulatory relief for fuel haulers, updates on diesel outages

Trucking news and briefs for Wednesday, May 12, 2021:

Overweight fuel shipments allowed in 10 states
The White House and DOT have determined that 10 states with previously issued declarations of “major disasters” issued by President Biden within the past 120 days are allowed to use interstate highways in their state to transport overweight loads of gasoline and other fuels to help overcome any fuel shortages related to the Colonial Pipeline ransomware hack.

According to DOT, each state must continue to follow its own procedures for issuing special permits authorizing the loads, but the added flexibility lawfully permits trucks to run on the Interstate Highway System and other federal highways. This flexibility is in addition to preexisting authority for States to issue special permits allowing the trucks to run on State highways.

The previous presidential declarations created this authority for up to 120 days.  Given the declarations’ varied dates of issuance, that period will expire at different points for the affected states between now and early September. The first state whose 120-day period will expire is Maryland, on June 4.  The last State is Virginia, on Sept. 7. 

The 10 states covered are Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, New Jersey, North Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia.  All these states are already covered under the separate Emergency Declaration that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration issued on May 9, which grants truck drivers making emergency fuel deliveries in areas affected by the pipeline disruption relief from the Federal hours of service limits and certain other safety regulations.

Temporary fuel shortages persist at truck stops
While Colonial Pipeline says it has shipped millions of gallons of fuel this week during its pipeline shutdown, truck stops are still seeing temporary shortages of gasoline and diesel in some states.

Pilot Company says all of its locations are open, but it's out of diesel at the following locations, as of 3:30 p.m. Central time Wednesday:

  • Flying J in Quincy, Florida
  • Pilot in Rock Hill, South Carolina
  • Pilot in Lugoff, South Carolina
  • Flying J in Blacksburg, South Carolina
  • Pilot in Carnesville, Georgia
  • Pilot in Prosperity, South Carolina
  • Pilot in Troutman, North Carolina
  • Mr. Fuel in Savannah, Georgia
  • Pilot in Tallapoosa, Georgia
  • Flying J in Latta, South Carolina
  • Pilot in Florence, South Carolina
  • Mr. Fuel in Summerville, South Carolina
  • Pilot in Vienna, Georgia
  • Flying J Dealer in Mount Airy, North Carolina
  • Pilot Dealer in Waldo, Florida
  • Pilot in St. George, South Carolina
  • Pilot in Winnsboro, South Carolina

Pilot notes that at most locations, diesel deliveries are expected. The latest fuel updates for Pilot and Flying J locations can be found here.

Love’s Travel Stops is reporting temporary diesel outages at eight locations, along with numerous locations at risk of fuel outages. Locations currently without diesel include:

  • Waco, Georgia
  • Orangeburg, South Carolina
  • Emerson, Georgia
  • Jasper, Tennessee
  • Calhoun, Georgia
  • Elgin, South Carolina
  • Commerce, Georgia
  • Madison, Georgia

Love's fuel updates can be found here.

TravelCenters of America's Director of Communications Tina Arundel said Wednesday evening that the company is working with its suppliers and other partners to bring in product from other markets to help maintain availability, but some locations are experiencing intermittent fuel outages.

"We are currently experiencing intermittent supply outages at sites and may be limiting the amount of gallons per purchase depending on location," she said. "While we have had some disruptions, we have been able to resupply the sites."

I-40 bridge over Mississippi River closed
The Tennessee and Arkansas transportation departments have closed the I-40 Hernando de Soto Bridge over the Mississippi River after a routine inspection uncovered a crack in the bottom side of the bridge truss.

The bridge will be entirely shut down while crews investigate the crack’s extent further and then repair the problem, which TDOT says “could take a couple weeks to complete.” TDOT shares responsibility for the bridge with the Arkansas DOT. An ArDOT contractor discovered the problem and immediately shut down the bridge.

“It is unclear, at this time, how long the repairs will take,” TDOT said in a press release.

Detours are available on both the Tennessee and Arkansas sides of the span.

Arkansas I-40 eastbound traffic should take Exit 5 to Interstate 55 to cross the Mississippi River into Memphis. Tennessee I-40 westbound traffic should take the I-55 Bridge across the Mississippi River to cross into Arkansas and then take Exit 4 to access I-40 westbound.

Federal data from January 2020, the latest available, shows the average daily general traffic on the Hernando de Soto Bridge -- also known as the "M" bridge -- is about 35,000 vehicles and estimates average daily truck traffic at 9,100. 

Dealer service expansion in Pennsylvania | M&K Truck Centers has acquired the Mack Trucks and Hino Truck product lines from Triple Cities Mack for the Scranton, Pennsylvania market, the company said. M&K will offer Mack and Hino products and all support services out of its existing location in nearby Dunmore. Additionally, M&K Truck Leasing, LLC, acquired the leasing operations of NEC Leasing’s Scranton location. The acquisitions add to existing new and used truck sales, trailer sales, parts, service and rental and leasing offerings. M&K Truck Centers in Dunmore is located at 125 Monahan Ave. Parts & Service hours are 6 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday-Friday.Dealer service expansion in Pennsylvania | M&K Truck Centers has acquired the Mack Trucks and Hino Truck product lines from Triple Cities Mack for the Scranton, Pennsylvania market, the company said. M&K will offer Mack and Hino products and all support services out of its existing location in nearby Dunmore. Additionally, M&K Truck Leasing, LLC, acquired the leasing operations of NEC Leasing’s Scranton location. The acquisitions add to existing new and used truck sales, trailer sales, parts, service and rental and leasing offerings. M&K Truck Centers in Dunmore is located at 125 Monahan Ave. Parts & Service hours are 6 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday-Friday.

COVID vaccines available at I-15 rest area in Montana to both U.S. and Canadian haulers 
The state of Montana is partnering with its neighbor to the North in Canada, the province of Alberta, to provide vaccines to both U.S. and Albertan truck drivers in Montana.

The agreement will provide the first dose of COVID-19 vaccines to Alberta commercial truck drivers who are regulated to transport goods into the United States. About 2,000 Alberta truck drivers are eligible to be vaccinated under the program, and Montana- and other U.S.-based truckers are also eligible to get the vaccine. Electronic signage on I-15 will offer guidance to truckers on where to go, noting a rest stop near Conrad, Montana, will function as the principal vaccine site, operating from 8 a.m.-8 p.m. daily through May 23. The Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services is working with Best Practice Medicine, a clinical staffing deployment vendor, to administer the vaccines.

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