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Southern Nevada’s Freight Corridor Gets the Vegas Treatment – Transport Topics Online

LAS VEGAS Before dawn on weekdays Paul DeLong arrives downtown to lead his team of commercial drivers in transporting equipment back and forth at construction sites for a project aimed at improving the work lives of truckers like him. His crew averages eight trips per shift using as many as six Western Star trucks during these final months of the aptly named Project Neon.

The $1 billion project will widen Interstate 15 at the U.S .

95 interchange Spaghetti Bowl, commonly known for its bumper-to-bumper traffic and accidents.

Excavator on U.S .< />
<p>93″ src=”http://www.translogistics.net/posts/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/99d9treatment-excavator.jpg” /></p>
<p><span><em>Construction is ongoing near the Spaghetti Bowl. (Eugene Mulero/Transport Topics)</em></span></p>
<p>On a rare rainy afternoon on May 1, when Transport Topics caught up with DeLong and the construction crew with Kiewit Infrastructure West Co., a driver had taken an excavator with a magnet attachment from a yard at Bonanza Road and transported it to the Charleston Boulevard site, just a few miles from the heart of a city inundated with tourists, celebrities, street performers and the many locals who live here . All the while, the crew from Kiewit removed the remnants of a bridge that had been turned to rubble to make room for the road expansion.</p>
<p>For DeLong, owner of a local eponymous heavy-haul firm operating since the mid- 80s and a member of the Nevada Trucking Association, Project Neon is not the typical highway renovation.</p>
<p>The project will mark a better way to access the periphery of America s playground .</p>
<p>The much-needed boost for truckers will increase lane capacity at the state s southern premier freight corridor . Passing through it will be quicker, and safer.</p>
<p>As DeLong put it, Project Neon will hopefully eliminate the congestion getting through the Las Vegas area, north and south. </p>
<p>Project managers anticipate a reduction in congestion by 30% after completion, as well as a reduction in the average of three accidents daily . The reduction in truck traffic and travel delays will likely result in $110 million annual savings for the freight industry and motorists through increased productivity, the Nevada Department of Transportation estimates.</p>
<p>Project Neon, the largest public works project in state history, targets 3.7 miles on the interstate between Sahara Avenue and the interchange with the Spaghetti Bowl .</p>
<p>Sahara Avenue is about 2.5 miles north of the Strip, and the Spaghetti Bowl is the busiest stretch of highway in Nevada with some 25,000 lane changes hourly.</p>
<h3>Project Goals</h3>
<p>At the site about half a dozen construction workers with Kiewit donning hard hats were stationed at the Bonanza Road yard . A crew member used an excavator with a magnet attachment to asses debris from the demolished old roadway in order to access metal while another crew member collected rubble with a bulldozer for disposal, construction that will continue for nearly a year as ramps and miles of roadway have yet to be paved.</p>
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<p>The project will include high-occupancy vehicle lanes, and an intricate active traffic management system consisting of 42 massive electronic message boards . Nine boards have been installed with six already operational, said Susan Berkley, the project s public involvement coordinator .</p>
<p>The boards are designed to promote speed harmonization by alerting drivers of accidents and severe traffic or weather.</p>
<p>Fuel consumption would improve for freight haulers by reducing the amount of stop-and-go movement on the roadway . This could lead to fuel savings as high as 40%, city officials with the mayor s office estimate.</p>
<p>The project is funded primarily through state revenue bonds . The city contributed $75 million in locally obligated federal highway funds, according to project managers .</p>
<p>Construction kicked off nearly two years ago with completion projected for summer 2019 . And when it is finished each road meticulously in its place Project Neon will be its own salute to the local ethos: What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.</p>
<p>Truckers are anticipating the change considering traffic through the corridor is expected to double by 2035 . Several drivers familiar with I-15 said that it s a huge delay .</p>
<p>However, notwithstanding the congested bottlenecks, truckers gotta be safe out there, said Gragg Wilson of FedEx Freight.</p>
<h3>Better Access</h3>
<p>The Las Vegas metropolitan area is a shipping and freight hub demanding constant supplies of food, goods and services to maintain various industries.</p>
<p><img class=

A bulldozer at the Bonanza Road yard. (Eugene Mulero/Transport Topics)

Of the 300,000 vehicles on the Spaghetti Bowl every day, about 17,900 on I-15 are trucks . U.S .

95 along the same stretch is used by 2,000 trucks daily, according to NDOT . Commercial drivers travel to and from California s ports and southwest hubs to reach warehouses, storage facilities and construction sites .

Other truckers focus primarily on last-mile routes across the metropolitan area, and longhaul truckers rely on the corridor en route to states farther north or east.

With $95 billion of commerce traveling annually along the corridor, congestion leads to potential slowdowns in local and state economies . That concern prompted emphasis on freight for the project, explained Dale Keller, Project Neon s senior project manager.

We re not in the business anymore of moving vehicles . We re about moving people and goods .

So, that method and that model really applies to this Project Neon by creating different transportation choices that we have, Keller said . You ve seen out here our footprint: You can t get any wider, right ? It s very expensive .

So we re trying to find these other choices, other transportation solutions to implement that.

Infrastructure Week

Our reporters kicked off the week with a look at how some new ideas are playing out in Nevada.

Anything we can do to improve that efficiency and moving people and goods really has a bottom-line impact, added Tony Illia, a spokesman with the department.

The high volume of tourists visiting Sin City every week, coupled with the state s growing population, were catalysts for the project, explained Paul Moradkhan, vice president of government affairs at the Las Vegas Metro Chamber of Commerce . According to data presented by the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, the state experienced a 31.8% population growth rate from 2000 to 2010 . That was followed by a population growth of 8.5% from 2011 to 2016.

There s several key factors that always come up in this conversation .

It s congestion . It s travel of goods . It s safety, the creation of jobs, travel delays, Moradkhan said .

All those will be addressed with the construction, and reconfiguration of Project Neon.

Mayor Carolyn Goodman, a staunch supporter of Project Neon, boasts about her city s place as an exemplar for intermodal freight transportation . Las Vegas is part of a trend, with Newark, N.J., and Denver, among cities that have enhanced commercial transportation.

A Model

Mayor Carolyn Goodman

Goodman

Goodman noted those steady transportation enhancements have earned the city praise from peers at the U.S . Conference of Mayors .

Also, national leaders, such as former Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, had told officials to study Las Vegas modernization efforts . Foxx, formerly mayor of Charlotte, N.C., as secretary had championed the need for enhancing capacity along I-15 beyond the metropolitan area.

For Project Neon, the mayor s hope is similar to DeLong s . Basically, the goal of the project is to open up the clog of two lanes in each direction at the Spaghetti Bowl, she said during an interview on April 30 at her downtown office.

After Project Neon, attention will need to turn to other infrastructure needs, she cautioned .

The American Society of Civil Engineers graded the state s infrastructure a C-minus in 2014, calling for additional work to enhance mobility in urban and rural areas.

Every city in this country pretty much has the same issues every other city has . But, sadly, all of us have to go to the top of the mountain and look singularly at a prioritized list of what s the most important . The first one is safety, the mayor said, and right under that is the horrible condition of the infrastructure in this country .

And you gotta fix it.

XPO, DHL Back Tesla Semi – Transport Topics Online

Logistics firms are joining trucking companies in checking out the potential for the Tesla Semi, with at least two testing prototypes of the electric truck. DHL Supply Chain, which provides transportation, warehousing and distribution services for U.S . manufacturers and retailers, ordered 10 trucks to test at customer facilities in major U.S .

cities.

This is a revolutionary approach to trucking, and we want to be a part of it for our customers, for our employees and for our industry, said Jim Monkmeyer, president of transportation at Westerville, Ohio-based DHL Supply Chain North America, in a company release.

Monkmeyer told Transport Topics that he expects electric power will be the standard in 10 years, and that companies need to be prepared for this transition . He believes that electric trucks promised reductions in maintenance will be a lure for drivers, as any repair-based downtime hurts their earnings . That s time they aren t on the road making money, Monkmeyer told TT .

That will be a big selling point to drivers.

DHL reported it would use the Semi for shuttle runs and same-day customer deliveries, and test its efficiency on longer runs from major markets to DHL operations across the country.

DHL Supply Chain s Tesla initiative is fully supported by its German parent Deutsche Post AG.

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William F . Meahl, the firm s global chief commercial officer, recently blogged that automated road freight will save costs, reduce emissions and make roads safer . The Tesla Semi is powered by a battery pack and four independent electric motors on the drive axles.

The Semi does not employ autonomous, or driver-assist, capability, but it does feature such next-level driving technology as active steering, automatic lane keeping, automatic emergency braking and lane-departure warnings.

We need to be thinking about an autonomous future now, wrote Meahl, who is responsible for coordinating the cross-company activities of DHL s Express, Global Forwarding/Freight, Supply Chain, and eCommerce divisions .

Logistics industry players certainly need to prepare for a future more reliant upon autonomous vehicles . Failure to plan for this eventual inevitability will be a costly mistake.

DHL also is interested in the technology due to a shortage of drivers that is affecting the company globally, he said . Meahl in his blog cited the Managing the Transition to Driverless Road Freight Transport study issued last year by the International Transport Forum .

It predicted that by 2030 there will be a need for 6.4 million truck drivers in Europe and the United States, while only 5.6 million will be available and willing to do the job.

DHL ranks No .

41 on the Transport Topics Top 50 list of the largest logistics companies2 in North America.

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XPO Logistics Inc . also is reportedly testing the Tesla Semi . In a client report, Morgan Stanley analyst Adam Jonas said that XPO staff have been testing live prototypes of the truck for 18 months, and have found that the truck lives up to Tesla s claims of recharging time, anti-jackknifing features and power delivery compared with diesel trucks .

XPO has a less-than-truckload division that operates a fleet of 8,363 tractors.

An XPO spokesperson declined to comment on the Jonas report.

XPO ranks No .

13 on the TT Top 50 list of the largest logistics companies4 in North America.

Tesla launched the Semi in November with a $150,000 base price for a tractor with a 300-mile range and an $180,000 base price for a version with a 500-mile range . Production is scheduled for 2019, and it costs $20,000 to reserve one of the trucks.

Tesla said its Semi will provide $200,000 or more in fuel savings and a payback period of two years.

A number of major freight-hauling firms have announced pre-orders, including 40 by Anheuser-Busch, 100 by Pepsi Co., 50 by Sysco Co., 125 by UPS Inc . and 15 by Wal-Mart Stores Inc .

Fleet operators such as J.B . Hunt Transport Services, NFI Industries and Bison Transport Inc . and retailers Meijer and Loblaw Cos .

confirmed that they have pre-ordered the truck or plan to do so.

References

  1. ^ No .

    4 (www.ttnews.com)

  2. ^ Transport Topics Top 50 list of the largest logistics companies (www.ttnews.com)
  3. ^ No .

    1 (www.ttnews.com)

  4. ^ TT Top 50 list of the largest logistics companies (www.ttnews.com)

2017: A Year Spent Looking Ahead

The year 2017 was one of anticipation for the freight transportation industry. On one hand, the long buildup to the Dec .

18 federal deadline for broad adoption of electronic logging devices to track hours of service stoked concern that the law would increase pressure on an already challenging market for drivers.

READER FAVORITES: 2017 by the numbers1

ELD TIMELINE: How the mandate progressed from stage to stage2

NOTABLE QUOTES: Take our quiz to find out who said what in 20173

That said, there also was a growing sense that the road ahead in 2018 will be better in most respects, with the market for freight hauling showing signs of tightening up as 2017 drew to a close.

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Topping the list of expectations among trucking executives is faster economic growth but also a new political climate based on pledges from President Donald Trump to reduce taxes, cut back on business regulations and set new terms for international trade.

TOP CARTOONS: See gallery of our 10 favorite trucking cartoons of the year4.

LIVEONWEB: Video discussion of top business and government stories of 2017.5

YOUR TOP ISSUES: Reader responses to top trucking issues and their impact.6

Although little progress was seen on the president s promise to invest $1 trillion over 10 years to rebuild the nation s roads and bridges, many states acted to increase spending on highways, including Kansas, Idaho, North Carolina, Nevada and Wyoming . In Texas, Gov .

Greg Abbott said the state would not set up any more toll roads and called for a study of new ways to fund roadway improvements.

With the Trump administration s arrival came a changing of the guard at several key agencies . Elaine Chao was confirmed as secretary of the U.S . Department of Transportation, and Ray Martinez, a former New Jersey transportation official, was tapped to head the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

The new administrator of the U.S .

Environmental Protection Agency, Scott Pruitt, moved quickly to hold up pending greenhouse gas emissions regulations affecting trailers and glider kits.

Early in the year, American Trucking Associations reached out to the new president to show support for health insurance reform.

WATCH: President Donald Trump meeting with ATA leaders & our @AmericaRoadTeam at the @WhiteHouse. #TruckersWithTrump https://t.co/sJoKGR397z78910

American Trucking (@TRUCKINGdotORG) March 23, 201711

In March, Trump sat behind the wheel of the group s Share The Road image truck and chatted with drivers representing America s Road Team before convening a meeting in the White House to discuss efforts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.

Later, in October, then-ATA Chairman Kevin Burch and executives from several family-owned trucking companies attended a Trump rally in Pennsylvania to promote the president s tax reform plan.

Burch

Congressional Republicans on Dec .

13 announced their intention to set the corporate tax rate at 21% as part of their broad parameters of an overhaul of the tax code . Trump expressed support for the rate and called for passage before Dec .

31.

Meanwhile, Trump also set new priorities for trade agreements . He pulled the United States out of a proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership and said the United States will withdraw from a United Nations- sponsored international climate agreement.

Closer to home, representatives from the United States, Canada and Mexico met in August to begin renegotiating provisions of the North American Free Trade Agreement, which Trump also has criticized .

The talks appeared to be stalled, however, over U.S . demands for greater domestic content in cars and trucks produced in Mexico and Canada.

At the most recent meeting in Mexico City, in November, the administration proposed adding language that would restrict Mexican trucks from expanding operations in the United States.

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U.S . Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer (left) exchanges pleasantries with counterparts from Canada and Mexico. (Jacquelyn Martin/Associated Press)

As for the business of trucking, after many months of mediocre freight volume and weak pricing, capacity disruptions after a series of powerful hurricanes and a surge in holiday shipping seemed to give carriers more leverage to raise rates .

That, in turn, has allowed firms to pass along pay increases to drivers and invest more in equipment and technology to make operations more efficient.

ATA s for-hire trucking index surged in October to 147.6, a jump of 9.9% from the same month a year ago . A National Driver Wage Index rose 1.6% in the third quarter of 2017 and is likely to accelerate in the fourth quarter and into 2018, according National Transportation Institute CEO Gordon Klemp.

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ERoad

As the deadline for adopting ELDs drew near, FMCSA officials announced plans for a transitory period of soft enforcement in which citations issued between Dec .

18, 2017, and April 1, 2018, would not count against driver safety scores under the Compliance, Safety, Accountability program.

Betting on better business conditions, sales of new trucks and trailers picked up in the second half of 2017.

Sales of Class 8 trucks in the United States reached 17,928 units in October, a gain of 31.6% compared with the same month a year ago, and the fourth consecutive monthly gain versus 2016 . Orders for new vehicles also swelled, and at least one industry analyst, Don Ake of ACT Research Co., said he expects sales to rise 25% in 2018.

Trucking company profits mostly were down compared with 2016, while several motor carriers encountered unusual financial turbulence in 2017.

Auto hauler Jack Cooper Transport agreed to exchange hundreds of millions of dollars in debt for equity and stave off bankruptcy .

Celadon Group and Roadrunner Transportation System replaced their top executives and held up filings with the U.S . Securities and Exchange Commission amid questions about the veracity of earlier financial statements.

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John Sommers II for Transport Topics

It was nonetheless an active year for mergers and acquisitions . Knight Transportation and Swift Transportation led the way with their $6 billion deal that closed in September, combining two of the nation s largest truckload carriers.

Belgium-based bpost, a postal operator and parcel carrier, made a splash with its $820 million purchase of e-commerce fulfillment provider Radial Inc.

NFI Industries acquired the nation s largest intermodal trucking group, California Cartage Co., in an effort to become a more complete provider of transportation and logistics services for shippers.

Other notable transactions included Heartland Express purchase of truckload carrier Interstate Distributor Co., Hub Group s buyout of dedicated contract carrier Estenson Logistics and Central Freight Lines acquisition of Wilson Trucking, a regional less-than-truckload carrier.

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Don Daseke

Daseke Inc .

added specialized munitions and explosives haulers R&R Trucking and The Roadmaster Group; flatbed carriers The Steelman Cos . and Tennessee Steel Haulers & Co.; and commercial glass transporter Moore Freight Service to its flatbed/heavy specialized carrier group.

And Canadian company Day & Ross Transportation Group established its first U.S . base of operations for dedicated trucking with the purchase of REI Group and Korten Quality Systems in Romeo, Mich.

Both Daseke and truckload/intermodal carrier and logistics services firm Schneider tapped into public equity markets with initial public offerings of stock in 2017.

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Buffett

Warren Buffett s Berkshire Hathaway Inc .

struck a deal to buy a minority stake in Pilot Travel Centers LLC, owner of Pilot Flying J, the truck stop chain in which four former executives are standing trial on charges that they systematically cheated customers out of fuel rebates.

Private equity firms also made some investments in trucking, with the Carlyle Group acquiring vehicle hauler United Road and Blackstone Group buying a controlling stake in refrigerated warehouse operator Cloverleaf Cold Storage.

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Spear

The growing shortage of truck drivers and technicians remained an industry issue in 2017 . At ATA s annual Management Conference & Exhibition in Orlando, Fla., President Chris Spear announced the formation of a Workforce Development subcommittee to explore what can be done to address the problem.

With the national unemployment rate falling to 4.1% in October, ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello issued a new estimate of the number of drivers needed beyond those currently available . He put the number at 50,000 a year but doubling to 100,000 in five years unless something happens to change current trends.

Our industry faces several barriers that must be addressed if we re to grow, Spear said in his state of the industry address at the conference, including establishing pre-apperenticeship and apprenticeship training programs and hiring and training 18- to 21-year-olds.

Spear also promised more vigorous opposition to state initiatives, such as legislation in Rhode Island that allows the state to collect tolls on trucks and laws in California that mandate meal and rest breaks for interstate drivers.

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Tesla

The future of truck equipment also was on display in 2017 .

The North American Commercial Vehicle Show debuted in October, while Elon Musk unveiled the Tesla Semi, a battery-powered, all-electric Class 8 truck in November.

Enhanced Autopilot will be standard on @tesla semi. @elonmusk: This is a massive increase in safety. pic.twitter.com/HjyGxHZSAX121314

Seth Clevenger (@SethClevenger) November 17, 201715

Mack Trucks and Volvo Trucks, both part of Volvo Trucks North America, introduced new models; Volvo in June unveiled its new VNR regional tractor, and followed that in July by showcasing its VNL highway tractor . Mack in September unveiled its new Anthem highway tractor.

Navistar International Corp . launched a new HV severe service model while solidifying ties with Germany s Volkswagen AG .

Japan s Hino Motors disclosed plans to open a truck assembly plant in West Virginia that will produce a new line of Classes 7-8 trucks.

Drivetrain supplier Eaton Corp . and diesel engine maker Cummins Inc . announced a plan to jointly produce a new 12-speed automated transmission, while Cummins said separately that it will offer a fully electric powertrain by 2019 and an electric truck by 2020.

On the technology front, Uber Technologies launched its first load-matching app, and interest in the use of blockchain technology was reflected in the establishment of the Blockchain in Trucking Alliance .

Descartes Systems Group acquired shipment-tracking specialist Macropoint, and Trimble Inc . added 10-4 Systems to its growing portfolio of transportation technology firms.

Other highlights of 2017 included:

Dave Manning, president of TCW Inc . in Nashville, Tenn., succeeded Kevin Burch as chairman of American Trucking Associations.

Roland Bolduc of FedEx Corp .

won the National Truck Driving Championships.

Carhaulers signed a new five-year labor agreement with the Teamsters union.

CSX Corp .

hired veteran rail executive Harrison Hunter as its new CEO and promptly encountered a service meltdown from which it still is recovering.

References

  1. ^ 2017 by the numbers (www.ttnews.com)
  2. ^ How the mandate progressed from stage to stage (www.ttnews.com)
  3. ^ Take our quiz to find out who said what in 2017 (www.ttnews.com)
  4. ^ See gallery of our 10 favorite trucking cartoons of the year (www.ttnews.com)
  5. ^ Video discussion of top business and government stories of 2017. (www.ttnews.com)
  6. ^ Reader responses to top trucking issues and their impact. (www.ttnews.com)
  7. ^ @AmericaRoadTeam (twitter.com)
  8. ^ @WhiteHouse (twitter.com)
  9. ^ #TruckersWithTrump (twitter.com)
  10. ^ https://t.co/sJoKGR397z (t.co)
  11. ^ March 23, 2017 (twitter.com)
  12. ^ @tesla (twitter.com)
  13. ^ @elonmusk (twitter.com)
  14. ^ pic.twitter.com/HjyGxHZSAX (t.co)
  15. ^ November 17, 2017 (twitter.com)