Large Canadian cross-border fleet acquired | I-5 closures next week

Trucking news and briefs for Friday, June 17, 2022:

Challenger Motor Freight acquired by Fastfrate

Fastfrate Group has acquired a majority stake in Challenger Motor Freight, the company confirmed Thursday, adding cross-border trucking capabilities to Fastfrate Group's scope of business. 

Fastfrate Group is comprised of seven companies that operate out of 40 terminals and final-mile hubs across Canada and into the U.S., offering asset-based transportation including over-the-road, cross-border and intermodal LTL and TL, drayage and transload, warehousing, distribution, final-mile and logistics services. 

Challenger Motor Freight, a coast-to-coast provider of transportation, warehousing and distribution services with the ability to ship domestically and across North America, earlier this year was named a Best Fleet to Drive For in the large fleet category by the Truckload Carriers Association.

"Together, we are a force within our industry that will compete collectively to deliver a complete and complementary suite of solutions to customers," said Fastfrate Group Chairman Ron Tepper. "This will serve to help our customers as supply chains become more diverse."

The new combined entity -- both companies are based in Ontario in Canada -- will have more than 5,000 employees and owner-operators leased on, 1.2 million square feet of facility space, and 5,500 pieces of equipment, and it becomes one of the largest independently owned transportation and supply chain companies in Canada.

Challenger Group will continue to operate independently under incoming CEO Jim Peeples. Dan Einwechter, founder and chairman of Challenger, will remain Chairman of Challenger Group and join the Fastfrate Group Board of Directors. Manny Calandrino will continue as CEO of Fastfrate Group, and current employees and management teams at both organizations will not be impacted by the transaction.

[Related: Full-service leasing for equipment management outsourcing]

I-5 closures in Tacoma, Washington, planned for next week

Truckers who use I-5 in Tacoma, Washington, will want to plan for several overnight closures scheduled for the week of June 20.

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Crews working for the Washington State Department of Transportation will install signage over southbound I-5 and install lane striping on northbound I-5, which will put the interstate into a final configuration.

WSDOT said the following schedule may change due to inclement weather. WSDOT will update advance closure notices on the statewide travel map.

Wednesday, June 22 ,from 11:59 p.m. to 4 a.m. Thursday, June 23

  • All lanes of southbound I-5 will close at exit 135 to Portland Avenue. Drivers will detour to westbound SR 509 to southbound I-705 and back to southbound I-5.
  • Thursday, June 23, is a backup date should the work get canceled.

Friday, June 24, from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. Saturday, June 25 and Saturday, June 25, from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. Sunday, June 26

  • All lanes of northbound I-5 will close at exit 133. Drivers will detour to I-705, to SR 509 to Port of Tacoma Road and back to northbound I-5.
  • Travelers on eastbound SR 16 merging to northbound I-5 will follow the same detour. The eastbound SR 16 HOV lane will be closed.

Overnight ramp closures: I-705 and SR 7 on-ramp to northbound I-5 will close from:

  • 11:59 p.m. Friday, June 24, to 5 a.m. Saturday, June 25
  • 11:59 p.m. Saturday, June 25, to 6 a.m. Sunday, June 26

The 28th Street on-ramp to northbound I-5 will close from 11:59 p.m. Friday, June 24, to 6 a.m. Saturday, June 25.

Travelers on northbound I-5 coming from Thurston County may want to consider using eastbound SR 512 to northbound SR 167 to westbound SR 18 or I-405 to reconnect with northbound I-5.

Once the lanes reopen on Sunday, six new travel lanes will open to travelers on northbound I-5 near the I-705 interchange. The new HOV lanes will open in July, weather permitting. 

Pilot expands into compressed natural gas with new partnership

Pilot Company announced this week that it's building upon its current initiatives in the alternative fuels space with a new compressed natural gas (CNG) and hydrogen delivery platform.

The expansion includes a partnership with VoltaGrid LLC to develop a low-carbon-fuels network that contributes to reduced emissions and decarbonization for third-party customers in industries like water disposal, dual-fuel applications, water heating operations, and natural disaster response. 

Pilot Company’s recent investment in a large-scale fleet of CNG and hydrogen trailers and in VoltaGrid’s low-carbon oilfield and mining services business is estimated to bring 350,000 gallons-equivalent of low carbon fuel to the market daily.

Through the partnership, the companies say they will provide customers the ability to:

  • Increase resources and streamline operations through seamless transitions between field gas and CNG supply for electric power generation without having to manage multiple suppliers.
  • Access a reliable network of CNG, renewable natural gas, diesel, and hydrogen fuel supply paired with VoltaGrid’s turnkey power generation package.
  • Access Pilot’s broad infrastructure base to efficiently supply low carbon fuels for grid reinforcement projects.

Pilot Company hired industry veteran Joshua Edge, with more than 20 years of experience in fuel distribution and terminal management, to lead the expansion. 

[Related: New truck stop and CNG-power push come to area near Savannah port]