I-94 closure planned this weekend | Diesel prices on something of a freefall

Updated Dec 18, 2022

Trucking news and briefs for Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2022:

I-94 closure planned in Detroit this weekend

Drivers hauling through Detroit on I-94 this weekend should be prepared for delays.

Weather permitting, Michigan Department of Transportation contract crews will be working on the new Second Avenue bridge over I-94, as well as continuing work on the Grand River Avenue overpass above I-94.

For safety, this work will require closing both east- and westbound I-94 between I-75 and M-10 (Lodge Freeway) starting at 5 a.m. Friday, Dec. 16, for the bulk of four days. Both directions of I-94 are expected to reopen by 5 a.m. Tuesday, Dec. 20.

Work on the Grand River Avenue overpass is restricted to weekend hours, resulting in extending the closure on I-94 between I-75 and I-96. Work on the Grand River Avenue overpass starts at 9 p.m. Friday and ends by 9 p.m. Sunday.

Westbound I-94 traffic will be detoured via  SB I-75 and WB I-96 back to WB I-94. All entrance ramps to WB I-94 from Mt. Elliott to John R. streets will be closed.

EB I-94 traffic will be detoured via EB I-96 and NB I-75 back to EB I-94. All entrance ramps to EB  I-94 from 30th Street to M-10 (Lodge Freeway) will be closed.

Ramps in both directions will close by 5 a.m. Friday and reopen by 5 a.m. Tuesday.       

Traffic on NB and SB M-10 (Lodge Freeway) will have access to WB I-94 during daylight hours on Friday and Monday.

Diesel prices continue recent freefall

The national average price for a gallon of on-highway diesel fell another 21.3 cents during the week ending Dec. 12, according to the Department of Energy’s Energy Information Administration.

With the decrease, the U.S.’ diesel national average is now $4.75 per gallon. Prices have fallen for five consecutive weeks, by nearly 39 cents in just the last two weeks.

During the most recent week, prices fell in all regions, with the most significant decrease being seen in the Midwest region, where prices fell by 25.6 cents, followed by California, which saw a 25.4-cent decrease.

California still holds the nation’s most expensive fuel at a $5.56 per gallon average, followed by the Central Atlantic region at $5.51.

The cheapest diesel can be found in the Gulf Coast region at $4.34, followed by the Midwest at $4.65.

Prices in other regions, according to EIA, are:

  • New England -- $5.48
  • Lower Atlantic -- $4.78
  • Rocky Mountain -- $5.03
  • West Coast less California -- $5.05

ProMiles’ numbers during the same week saw fuel prices fall by 15.8 cents to $5.03 per gallon.

According to ProMiles’ Fuel Surcharge Index, the most expensive diesel can be found in California at $5.86 per gallon, and the cheapest can be found in the Gulf Coast region at $4.41 per gallon.

[Related: 2023 headwinds blowing: Legal pressures, economic conditions for the new year ahead]

Trucker Tools warns of broker impersonation scheme

In an email to users, the Trucker Tools freight-matching platform and multifunction smartphone application warned of an "impersonator double-brokering one of our customer's loads," the company said, urging users to be on the lookout for a specific bit of fakery on the part of the impersonator. 

The contact, going by "Grigor" in the referenced instance, used the email address grigor@axlelogistic.com, and the phone number 865-248-5574 -- Overdrive calls to the number failed to connect. The "axlelogistic.com" domain removes the "s" at the end of the real broker's name. Trucker Tools urged users to avoid doing business with the impersonating contact.

"He is using fake rate confirmations and his email signature looks just like the [actual] brokerage's," though as noted the slightly modified domain name is a dead giveaway, and a common one that's easily overlooked in the rush to book a freight transaction. 

Users, Trucker Tools said, could contact support@truckertools.com -- and if ever in doubt about the veracity of any broker, the company recommending contacting the "brokerage you are working with directly to verify the load is real." 

Find plenty more in the way of tips to help spot business identity theft cases in progress via this link. 

[Related: FMCSA needs a 'cop on the block' fighting brokered-freight fraud]

Uber Freight, Volvo partnering to develop autonomous trucks

Uber Freight and Volvo Autonomous Solutions (V.A.S.) on Wednesday announced a multi-phase commercial and technology partnership to deploy Volvo’s autonomous tech on the Uber Freight network.

Uber Freight will be one of V.A.S.’s first customers to pilot its hub-to-hub autonomous offering. As a part of the partnership, V.A.S. will offer autonomous freight capacity to Uber Freight shippers on select routes, starting in Texas.

"By integrating our autonomous transport solution with Uber Freight’s expansive network, we are offering shippers the possibility to move goods more efficiently while addressing some of the biggest challenges of the industry -- transit times, empty miles and a shortage of drivers," said Volvo Autonomous Solutions President Nils Jaeger.

V.A.S. is also working with autonomous truck tech company Aurora to develop and scale an autonomous transport solution with the Aurora Driver. The two companies debuted the first autonomous VNL prototype in September 2021.

Uber Freight and V.A.S. envision a hybrid future where autonomous and manually driven trucks work together to move goods safely and efficiently using a hub-to-hub model. Under this model, autonomous trucks will take on the long-haul portion of the transport mission, while manually driven trucks complete local operations. Hub-to-hub will also ease some of the burden of increasing demand for freight while enabling drivers to shift into short-haul jobs closer to home, the companies said, enhancing quality of life.

[Related: "What happens to all the truckers who simply want to live life out on the road?"

The partnership with V.A.S. initiates Uber Freight’s first commercial collaboration with such a fleet. As Uber Freight continues to work with what it calls "Driver-as-a-Service" technology providers like Aurora and Waymo and with OEMs and "Transportation-as-a-Service" providers like V.A.S., the company says it's hoping to emerge as the network of choice to make the commercialization of autonomous transportation a reality. 

Earlier this month, Uber Freight and Aurora expanded their autonomous pilot with a new commercial lane between Fort Worth and El Paso. The 600-mile lane across Texas launched in October and is supporting Uber Freight customers as they prepare for the 2022 holiday season. --Jason Cannon, CCJ

[Related: Volatile year shows growing pains for in-app freight pricing, value of negotiation]

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