I-70 WB shut down in Ohio after fiery crash

Trucking news and briefs for Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2023:

Tragedy near Columbus shuts down I-70

Update: As of 4:30 p.m. Eastern time Tuesday, the eastbound lanes of I-70 have reopened. The westbound lanes remain closed as crews continue to clean up the crash scene repair damaged pavement.

Original story follows: 

Three people were killed and at least 15 injured in a fiery crash Tuesday morning involving a truck and a charter bus carrying high school students. As a result of the crash, I-70 is closed in both directions east of Columbus, Ohio.

According to Columbus news station NBC4, the crash occurred when a bus was rear-ended by a tractor-trailer on I-70 West around 8:15 a.m. Tuesday.

The Associated Press reported that the charter bus was transporting students from a school in eastern Ohio, and there were a total of 57 people on board. ABC 6 out of Columbus reported the bus was carrying band members from Tuscarawas County High School to perform at the Ohio School Board Association's convention this week.

[Related: I-10 shut down: Huge fire under the road prompted big L.A. closure]

As of 11:30 a.m. Eastern time, the interstate is closed eastbound at State Route 310 and westbound at State Route 37.

[Related: Roads 511: Highway information in real time]

J.B. Hunt, BNSF look to shift freight from truck to rail

J.B. Hunt Transport Services and intermodal rail provider Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) last week jointly rolled out an intermodal service to transport service-sensitive highway freight via rail, potentially removing millions of loads from the highway. 

Quantum -- the revival of a name used by the two companies in a partnership that dates back to the late 1980s -- is comprised of both J.B. Hunt and BNSF operators housed together at a new Intermodal Innovation Center at BNSF headquarters in Fort Worth, Texas. 

J.B. Hunt President of Intermodal Darren Field said Quantum allows customers with service-sensitive freight to benefit from the cost savings of intermodal and reduce their carbon footprint. Converting over-the-road highway freight to rail intermodal, the companies claim, is the most widely available ground-based transportation solution for cutting carbon emissions, reducing a shipment’s carbon footprint by an average of 60% compared to over-the-road truck transportation.

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Based on analysis of J.B. Hunt 360 transactions and annual bid activity, J.B. Hunt estimates that 7 to 11 million loads of freight support conversion from over-the-road truck service to intermodal service.

The companies said Quantum customers can anticipate up to 95% on-time delivery service approximately a day faster than traditional intermodal service, adding that planning starts with aligning forecasts for dray, container and rail capacity with customer needs. Priority drayage and rail movement are incorporated to provide faster, more consistent transits.

The new partnership creates even deeper ties between the two companies that have been entangled in some regard for more nearly 40 years. In 2022, the two launched a joint initiative to improve capacity in the intermodal marketplace while also meeting the expanding customer needs. J.B. Hunt in September agreed to acquire the brokerage operations of BNSF Logistics

[Related: Limitations of power-only systems: Lack of trailer-maintenance control is a top concern]

Medical waste pickup company seeking HOS waiver

Clym Environmental Services has requested an exemption from the hours-of-service (HOS) regulations to allow its drivers up to 14 hours of drive time within the work shift or, alternatively, up to 12 hours.

Clym, a medical waste pickup, transportation, and destruction company, said it is making the request for three contingencies:

  • When CDL A drivers are taking time off or calling off for illness or injury, in which case a relief driver is needed to transport the waste along the supply chain
  • When there is an unexpected increase in material and a trailer needs to be moved sooner than scheduled
  • When there is an upcoming issue with local and state health codes for the storage of regulated medical waste

If granted, the exemption would apply only to drivers operating on the long-haul route between Clym’s office in New Castle, Pennsylvania, and its ozone destruction plant in Greenfield, Indiana. It would not apply to any drivers operating on the company’s local routes.

Clym said the waiver, if granted, would have a minimal impact on safety, as it would allow its drivers to have more than the one mandatory 30-minute break after eight consecutive hours of driving. Clym’s internal policy provides a one-hour company lunch break and strongly encourages its drivers to take as many breaks as necessary.

Clym added that the round trip from one plant to another and back takes about 11 hours to complete without traffic, and it considers the run to be “very easy,” as its commercial vehicles typically operate at approximately half of the 80,000-pound legal limit.

FMCSA will accept public comments on the request for 30 days beginning Wednesday, Nov. 15, at www.regulations.gov by searching Docket No. FMCSA-2023-0186.

[Related: FMCSA to Congress: Safety impacts of 2020 HOS changes inconclusive so far]

New Love’s opens in Georgia

Truckers traveling through west Georgia along I-85 have a new option for fueling and parking with the opening of a Love’s Travel Stop in West Point, Georgia, at Exit 2 off I-85.

The opening of the new store adds 79 truck parking spaces, Godfather’s Pizza and Hardee’s restaurants, seven diesel bays, nine showers, a Speedco opening Nov. 29 and more.

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