Slow-roll I-81/I-64 closures upcoming | Driver wins new truck in Rotella contest

Trucking news and briefs for Wednesday, Dec. 20, 2023:

Slowdowns planned -- Thursday night on I-81/-64

Truckers southbound on I-81 or westbound on I-64 in Virginia Thursday night should plan for slowdowns, as crews work on sections of the interstates.

Bridge work requires slow-roll closures Thursday night, Dec. 21, on southbound I-81 and westbound I-64 in Augusta County near Staunton. Virginia State Police will manage the slow-roll closures, which will create traffic delays between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. Thursday night into early Friday morning.

The affected areas are southbound I-81 between exits 225 and 220, and westbound I-64 between exit 91 and the I-81 interchange. Drivers should be alert for temporary entrance-ramp closures during the slow-roll operations. Digital message signs will advise drivers of the restrictions.

According to the Virginia DOT, a slow roll is a traffic management operation that creates a traffic gap by reducing approaching vehicle speeds to as low as 10 mph. This gap allows work to safely take place over travel lanes free of live traffic. Traffic can also be temporarily stopped and held by a lead vehicle in each lane. A slow roll operation typically lasts no more than 15 minutes at a time. 

The Dec. 21 slow rolls allow contractors for the Virginia DOT to begin demolition and removal of the Route 635 (Barterbrook Road) overpass bridge. This bridge must be replaced as part of a project to construct a new auxiliary lane on southbound I-81 between exit 221 (I-64 junction) and exit 220 (Route 220 south).

[Related: I-195 bridge closed in Rhode Island]

Oklahoma-based trucker wins new truck in Shell Rotella giveaway

Tulsa, Oklahoma-based Donald McNurlin was recently named the winner of the 2023 Shell Rotella Class 8 Truck Sweepstakes, in which he was awarded a Class 8 truck of his choice.

McNurlin was recently presented with a 2023 Mack Pinnacle at a ceremony at Love’s Travel Stop in Big Cabin, Oklahoma.

“Shell Rotella is pleased to have hard-working truck driver Donald McNurlin win the 2023 Shell Rotella Class 8 Truck Promotion, and we hope he enjoys many happy memories on the road with his brand-new Class 8 truck,” said Julie Wright, North American Brand Manager, Shell Rotella.

As a loyal Shell Rotella user, McNurlin selected Shell Rotella for a heavy-duty diesel engine oil change, which paid off in more ways than performance. During a visit to a Love’s Truck Care location in Yuma, Arizona, McNurlin registered for a chance to win a new Class 8 truck and won.

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“It is a wonderful surprise to have had an opportunity to win the 2023 Shell Rotella Truck Promotion,” McNurlin said. “Trucking has always been a lifelong interest and love of mine. I feel blessed to be able to take my new truck on the road and will continue to use Shell Rotella.” 

Bruckner’s Truck and Equipment in Tulsa facilitated the grand prize Class 8 truck for McNurlin.

FTR noted market improvement for carriers in October

FTR’s Trucking Conditions Index in October improved to a reading of -6.07 from -8.97 in September, primarily due to falling diesel prices.

FTR Trucking Conditions Index October 2023FTR's Trucking Conditions Index improved for the second consecutive month in October, mostly due to falling diesel prices.FTRDespite less pain at the pump, the market remained difficult for trucking companies, FTR said. The outlook is for gradual improvement, but TCI readings are forecast to remain negative through 2024.

“The decline in diesel prices represented the only positive contribution to October’s TCI, although rates and cost of capital were less negative factors than they had been in September,” said Avery Vise, FTR’s vice president of trucking. “As we have discussed frequently, the combination of stagnant freight volume and surprisingly resilient capacity is thwarting a near-term turnaround for the truckload sector.”

Vise added that conditions for carriers likely won’t begin to improve until the second half of 2024, “absent an acceleration in the current rate of capacity loss.”

[Related: How to avoid joining the 'capacity reduction' ranks]

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