Moving Grain: LaGrange Lock and Dam Closure Period Extended

    Barge traffic on the Mississippi River - Port of New Orleans. Photo: USDA

    LaGrange Lock and Dam Closure Period Extended

    The planned closure of the LaGrange closure is now extended through October 13, according to a discussion at the Inland Waterways Users Board on July 22. Because of high water, the contractor could not perform certain pre-closure tasks.

    The extended closure will overlap with the period of high activity in Illinois grain harvesting. In an attempt to keep the closure period to the original 90 days, the Rock Island District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) is in discussions with the contractor to accelerate the process.

    However, USACE cannot guarantee an expedited process. The other lock closures on the Illinois River remain on schedule.

    FMCSA Launches Online Database for Reporting Drug and Alcohol Violations

    The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association (FMCSA) recently launched an online database for reporting violations and other information about Commercial Driver’s License CDL holders, related to FMCSA’s drug and alcohol testing program.

    FMCSA’s CDL Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse serves as a central location to help employers quickly identify drivers with possible violations of drug and alcohol programs. The database also helps law enforcement officers identify drivers with such violations—giving access to this information when drivers are stopped for traffic violations.

    FMCSA partnered with the U.S. Department of Transportation to design and develop the web system, including the requirements, system architecture, and user interface.

    FHWA Announces $60 Million in Grant Funding

    On July 6, The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) announced the availability of $60 million in grant funding for State and local projects aiming to improve travel for commuters, reduce congestion, and serve as national models for other States and metropolitan areas.

    Authorized in 2015, the funds will promote the early distribution of technologies aiming to improve transportation systems. State departments of transportation, local government groups, transit agencies and metropolitan planning organizations are eligible to apply, and partnerships with private-sector groups are encouraged.

    The deadline for applications is Aug. 31.

    15 States Sign MOU To Accelerate Truck Electrification

    On July 14, the District of Columbia and 15 states (California, Connecticut, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington) released a joint memorandum of understanding (MOU).

    These jurisdictions will work together to accelerate the market for electric medium- and heavy-duty vehicles, including long-haul delivery trucks (big-rigs). The long-range goal is for 100 percent of all new medium- and heavy-duty vehicle sales to be zero emission by 2050, with a provisional target of 30 percent of sales to be zero emission by 2030.

    Snapshots by Sector

    Export Sales

    For the week ending July 16, unshipped balances of wheat, corn, and soybeans totaled 20.1 million metric tons (mmt). This represented an 11-percent increase in outstanding sales from the same time last year.

    Net corn export sales were 0.221 mmt, down 78 percent from last week. Net soybean export sales were 0.365 mmt, up 17 percent from the previous week. Net wheat export sales were 0.617 mmt, down 19 percent from the previous week.


    U.S. Class I railroads originated 22,395 grain carloads during the week ending July 18. This was a 15-percent more than the previous week, 2 percent less than last year, and 3 percent less than the 3-year average.

    Average August shuttle secondary railcar bids/offers (per car) were $272 above tariff for the week ending July 23. This was $78 more than last week and $450 more than this week last year. There were no non-shuttle bids/offers this week.


    For the week ending July 25, barge grain movements totaled 838,643 tons. This was 12 percent more than the previous week and 7 percent more than the same period last year.

    For the week ending July 25, 525 grain barges moved down river—46 more barges than the previous week. There were 535 grain barges unloaded in New Orleans, 9 percent fewer than the previous week.


    For the week ending July 23, 26 oceangoing grain vessels were loaded in the U.S. Gulf—13 percent fewer than the same period last year. Within the next 10 days (starting July 24), 36 vessels were expected to be loaded—35 percent fewer than the same period last year.

    As of July 23, the rate for shipping a metric ton (mt) of grain from the U.S. Gulf to Japan was $41.50. This was 2 percent less than the previous week. The rate from the Pacific Northwest to Japan was $20.75 per mt, 3 percent less than the previous week.


    For the week ending July 27, the U.S. average diesel fuel price decreased 0.6 cents from the previous week to $2.427 per gallon, 60.7 cents below the same week last year.

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