Indiana begins construction on wireless truck charging highway segment

Trucking news and briefs for Tuesday, April 9, 2024:

Indiana begins construction on electric truck charging highway

Purdue University electric charging pavement testPurdue University professor John Haddock and graduate student Oscar Moncada examine a slab of concrete pavement they tested to handle heavy truckloads with wireless power-transfer technology installed below the surface. The machine behind them is designed to imitate those loads by repeatedly passing half a loaded semi-truck axle across the concrete slab.Photo provided by Consensus Digital Media

The Indiana Department of Transportation is partnering with Purdue University and Cummins to build what they call the United States' first-of-its-kind segment of roadway that can charge both heavy-duty and passenger electric vehicles as they travel at highway speeds.

Following multiple years of in-depth research and testing, a pilot segment will be constructed on U.S. 231/U.S. 52 between Cumberland Avenue and Lindberg Road in West Lafayette, near INDOT's West Lafayette Subdistrict office.

Installation of the dynamic wireless power transfer test site began early this month. Drivers may experience a right lane closure on the westbound lanes as crews remove pavement.

Construction is expected to continue through the Fall, weather permitting. Additional work is expected to last until May of 2025.

The quarter-mile test bed will be used to test how well a patent-pending system designed by Purdue engineers can provide power to a heavy-duty electric truck traveling at highway speeds.

An electric truck, provided by Cummins, will drive over the test bed as part of a pilot program tentatively planned to start next year. The hope is to electrify a section of an Indiana interstate in the next four to five years. 

In the wireless charging system that Purdue researchers have designed, transmitter coils would be installed in specially dedicated lanes underneath normal concrete pavement and send power to receiver coils attached to the underside of a vehicle.

INDOT encourages all drivers to slow down, buckle up and put their phones down while traveling in the construction area for the safety of other motorists and road workers.

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[Related: 'Massive' rate increase needed to finance $1 trillion electric trucking conversion]

FMCSA hosting session on Baltimore emergency response

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration announced Tuesday it will host a public information session Wednesday, April 10, to provide information regarding emergency declarations issued in response to the collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore.

Updates on how the emergency declarations affect exemptions and waivers for commercial motor vehicle carriers and drivers will be provided.

Registration for the session is required, and the agency encourages attendees to send any questions in advance to: [email protected].

Carriers, drivers, and others responsible for the movement of freight in the Baltimore area (and region) are encouraged to participate.

The session will be held at 2 p.m. Eastern. 

Expect slowdowns on I-195 in Rhode Island

The Rhode Island Department of Transportation is beginning work on a project to create three lanes of through travel on both sides of the Washington Bridge along I-195.

RIDOT will restripe the highway during the evening and overnight hours tonight, Tuesday, April 9. The change will be in effect for the morning commute on Wednesday, April 10. 

With a number of days of rainy weather forecast for later this week, RIDOT is taking advantage of a window of good weather that will allow the department to restripe the highway and put part of the new traffic pattern into place. 

RIDOT is making these changes to reduce congestion and decrease travel times for both directions of I-195 affected by the closure of the Washington Bridge westbound. There will be no change at this time for I-195 West, which will still have two lanes of travel. 

With the change for eastbound travelers, drivers can expect:

  • Lanes will be reduced in width. The left and center lanes will be 10 feet wide, and trucks will be restricted to the far-right lane, which will be 11 feet wide. RIDOT will post signage that trucks must use the far-right lane only. 
  • The speed limit on I-195 East will be reduced to 40 mph. 
  • In addition to reducing their speed, drivers should stay in their lane and refrain from any distractions. 

RIDOT will continue construction to implement a three-lane traffic configuration for I-195 West traffic on or before April 22.

Following the establishment of the three-lane configuration for eastbound drivers this week, RIDOT will install a new median barrier prior to implementing the three-lane configuration for westbound traffic. 

RIDOT, along with traffic engineering and structural engineering consultants and Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) traffic experts, have certified that the eastbound bridge structure is sufficient to carry the extra lane. 

Once the three-lane configuration is fully put into place, RIDOT will remove the lane reduction on I-195 West just east of the East Shore Expressway near the state line, which was installed in early February. This will no longer be needed with the three-lane configuration.

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

Relay Payments opens nomination period for second Haul of Fame contest

Fuel payments provider Relay Payments has opened its second annual Haul of Fame contest, which honors inspiring truck drivers and their contributions to the trucking industry.

 The contest will recognize two winners with an array of prizes, including a trip to the NASCAR race weekend in Atlanta, Sept. 6-8, just ahead of National Truck Driver Appreciation Week. Applications are now open here.

This year, a panel of judges will help select two Haul of Fame winners.

Relay Payments serves as a primary sponsor of NASCAR Cup Series driver William Byron and the No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports team.

Now in its second year, the Haul of Fame contest includes more prizes and more time to nominate candidates, Relay said. Applications are open now, and anyone can nominate a truck driver who they feel has made substantial contributions to the trucking industry. Last year's nominations included career fleet drivers who always went the extra mile, independent owner-operators who mentored others, and drivers who advocated for the profession, whether it be to promote more inclusivity, safety, or appreciation for the role.

The application process is as follows:

  • Nominations open April 9 to June 30
  • Public voting for 15 finalists from July 3-31
  • Five finalists announced on Aug. 1
  • Celebrity judging takes place Aug. 1-6
  • Winners announced on Sept. 3

The two Haul of Fame winners receive an all-expenses-paid trip for themselves and a guest to the NASCAR Cup Series race at Atlanta Motor Speedway, where they'll have the opportunity to meet NASCAR driver William Byron and participate in a behind-the-scenes Hendrick Motorsports race day experience. The truck drivers will also receive $250 in their Relay account to use for fuel, and more.

[Related: Fuel payments providers boost theft protections amid card-skimming explosion]

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