Rail-bridge strike by oversize rig closes I-95

Trucking news and briefs for Wednesday, April 3, 2024:

NB I-95 closed after bridge strike

A section of I-95 Northbound in Philadelphia is closed after an oversize truck struck a railroad bridge along the route Monday. The closure is expected to continue “for several days.”

The Pennsylvania DOT said a section of a Conrail bridge in Northeast Philadelphia was hit by a truck around 1:30 p.m. Monday, April 1.

I-95 North approaching the Betsy Ross Bridge/Aramingo Avenue Interchange was reduced to a single lane for several hours while Conrail bridge engineers conducted their inspection to establish an emergency repair plan.

Initially after the bridge strike, northbound I-95 travelers were directed to use the Betsy Ross/Aramingo Avenue Interchange (Exit 26), turn right on Aramingo Avenue, and turn right onto Adams Avenue to access the ramp to I-95 North.

It was later determined that all lanes of I-95 NB would close while repairs were made. According to a report from The Philadelphia Inquirer, Conrail expected repairs to be made within 72 hours and allow the interstate to reopen Thursday. PennDOT, however, expects repairs completed "by the weekend.”

Motorists are advised to avoid the closure areas because significant backups and delays will occur on I-95 and alternate routes and surface streets in the vicinity of the work area.

Electronic message boards on I-76, I-276, I-476, and other regional transportation arteries in Pennsylvania, Delaware, and New Jersey are being used to alert drivers about the closure and provide information about alternate routes.

[Related: $100,000 fines, jail time proposed as carriers keep hitting bridges in British Columbia]

Tradepoint Atlantic port remains operational in Baltimore

While vessel traffic to the Port of Baltimore beyond the collapsed Francis Scott Key Bridge remains suspended as cleanup efforts continue, Tradepoint Atlantic’s marine terminal remains fully open as it sits outside the channel leading to the port.

TPA said its cargo berths have been operational throughout the Key Bridge cleanup process, accepting previously scheduled arrivals, while also providing additional capacity for redirected cargo.

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“TPA is committed to accepting redirected cargo to help maintain the supply chain and re-establish commercial activity,” the company said.

Over the next 15 days, TPA said six regularly scheduled roll-on/roll-off vessels and an additional nine redirected vessels will arrive at its site. During that time, 10,000 automobiles will be unloaded and processed.

In addition to helping with cargo capacity, TPA also cleared a five-acre facility to store and process recovered bridge material from the Patapsco River.

[Related: Baltimore bridge collapse prompts changes to city's truck routes]

Cover Whale expands liability insurance offerings

Cover Whale Insurance Solutions, an insurance agent specializing in commercial auto, continues expansion across the United States -- it's available for auto liability coverage for truckers and fleets in six additional states: Maine, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Vermont.

With this expansion, the company can offer liability coverage in 39 states. Accounting for its other lines of coverage, including auto physical damage, motor truck cargo, non-trucking liability, and truckers’ general liability, the company’s footprint extends to 46 states in all. 

“Our top priority has always been to improve safety on America’s roads for everyone while providing competitive coverage options to truck drivers and fleets across the country,” said Dan Abrahamsen, CEO of Cover Whale. “Being able to write auto liability coverage in nearly 80% of the states, and other lines in more than 90% is quite the achievement for Cover Whale. And we’ll be adding more.” 

The company said its online platform allows agents to quickly quote and bind coverage for their clients, streamlining the insurance buying process. Earlier this year, the company added electronic logging devices to its Driver Safety Program as an option for telemetry data-sharing, along with its dashcam option, giving policyholders additional flexibility when binding auto liability coverage.

[Related: What to do when your insurance policy doesn’t provide the necessary coverage]

FMCSA requesting approval to amend Safe Driver Apprenticeship Program

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is seeking emergency approval from the White House Office of Management and Budget to amend the Safe Driver Apprenticeship Program, the pilot project to allow under-21 drivers the opportunity to pull interstate loads under certain parameters, to keep the agency compliant with the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2024, passed last month.

The spending bill included language that bars FMCSA from requiring the use of inward facing cameras or requiring a motor carrier to register an apprenticeship program with the Department of Labor as a condition for participation in the SDAP program. Those changes were sought in hopes of boosting participation in the program, which has been marred since it began by low participation. 

[Related: One of just 16 unsupervised under-21s in FMCSA's apprenticeship program: Meet Will Dodson]

As such, the application and monthly report forms for the program have been revised to remove those two elements as mandatory requirements.

FMCSA noted that it will continue to ask carriers whether they use inward facing cameras and whether they have a Registered Apprenticeship program approval number, and will give carriers the option of providing that information.

The OMB has to approve the changes  to FMCSA’s information collection request (ICR) for them to take effect. FMCSA requested approval of the changes by April 15.

[Related: Transportation spending bill aims to improve under-21 pilot participation, more]