Baltimore officials update city's truck routes

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Trucking news and briefs for Thursday, March 28, 2024:

City of Baltimore updates recommended truck routes

Baltimore truck routes mapBaltimore has updated its official truck routes map as a result of the Francis Scott Key Bridge's collapse. See the most up-to-date routes map here.Baltimore City DOT

The Baltimore City Department of Transportation has been working closely with local, state and federal partners since the collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge Tuesday morning to minimize the impacts on city streets.

The department said it’s actively evaluating the projected impact of the bridge collapse on city corridors, particularly its designated truck routes. Higher traffic volumes on city roads are anticipated, particularly along designated truck route corridors.

In order to minimize impacts, the department is modifying its official truck map, which details how truck drivers may use Baltimore City roads and highways. The city asks that truckers refer to the GIS map for the most up-to-date route information: Baltimore City Official Truck Routes. Truckers are encouraged to continue checking this official map in the coming days as additional modifications may be made. 

Additionally, the Maryland DOT State Highway Administration and Maryland Transportation Authority have shifted the outer look I-695 closure since it began Tuesday. The outer loop I-695 closure has now shifted to exit 1/Quarantine Road (past the Curtis Creek Drawbridge) to allow for enhanced local traffic access. The outer loop was previously closed at Maryland 10 (exit 2). The inner loop of I-695 remains closed at MD 157 (Peninsula Expressway). Additionally, the ramp from MD 157 to the inner loop of I-695 will be closed. 

As a reminder, commercial vehicles carrying oversize cargo or hazmat, including recreation vehicles carrying propane, should plan on using I-695 (Baltimore Beltway) between Essex and Glen Burnie, which will add significant driving time, Maryland DOT said.

[Related: Equipment, auto haulers may feel strain from Baltimore bridge collapse]

Shippers see market decline in January

FTR’s January Shippers Conditions Index (SCI) fell 3 points in January to a reading of 3.4, the firm reported Wednesday.

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While still positive, the SCI was the weakest it had been since September. The most significant changes from December conditions were less favorable freight rates and a slowdown in fuel cost decreases.

One factor related to rates was the brief spike in trucking spot rates due to winter weather in the middle of the month.

FTR expects the SCI to move closer to neutral market conditions, which are represented in the index by a reading of 0.

“Until recently, market conditions for shippers were reliably favorable except at times when diesel prices soared in relatively short periods,” said Avery Vise, FTR’s vice president of trucking. “Core freight market dynamics – freight rates, utilization, and volume – have been consistent positives for shippers. That situation is changing, albeit gradually. We expect more muted conditions through 2024, and shippers should anticipate modestly more challenging market conditions by early 2025.”

Michigan again adjusts spring weight restrictions

Michigan spring weight restrictions April 1, 2024Michigan's spring weight restrictions are only in effect for the shaded area, beginning Monday, April 1.Michigan DOT

The Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) continues to adjust spring weight restriction areas in an annual move to protect roads.

Effective 6 a.m. Monday, April 1, weight restrictions will be lifted on all state trunkline highways from the southern Michigan border north to and including US-2/US-141 at the Menominee River bridge west of Iron Mountain then east on US-2 to St. Ignace, then north on I-75 to M-134, then east to and including M-134 on Drummond Island.

Frost restrictions are still in effect for the remainder of the state and will be imposed and enforced on all state trunkline highways north of US-2, I-75, and M-134 and on M-185 on Mackinac Island. State routes typically carry M, I, or US designations.

More information regarding the spring weight restrictions can be found here.

TCA names Drivers of the Year

The Truckload Carriers Association named five winners of the 2024 TCA Professional Drivers of the Year at its annual convention this week in Nashville. These individuals were selected from a record nomination pool of drivers and were recognized as the best -in-class within the professional driver community. Each driver received $20,000 and standing ovations during the awards ceremony.

TCA’s 2024 Professional Drivers of the Year are Tim Chelette, Big G Express; Rosalinda Tejada, Knight Transportation; Howard Robinson, NFI Industries; Clark Reed, Nussbaum Transportation; and James White, P&S Transportation.