DOT Awards $20.8 Million to St. Louis Bi-State Regional Ports Improvement Project
On September 16, the U.S Department of Transportation (DOT) announced the award of $1 billion in grants to 70 infrastructure projects in 44 states. These include barge loading and rail upgrades for three ports under the St. Louis Bi-State Regional Ports Improvement Project.
With such upgrades as new grain storage, conveyer equipment, and additional railroad track, the facilities will expand capacity, reduce wait times, and attract more traffic. Known as Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development (BUILD) Transportation Discretionary grants, the grants fund planning and capital investments in surface transportation infrastructure.
To better address the needs of rural America, 50 percent of BUILD Transportation grant funding will be awarded to projects that benefit rural communities.
FMCSA Extends Waiver for Commercial Driver’s License/Learner’s Permit Holders
On September 18, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) extended its waiver from certain regulations affecting holders of interstate and intrastate commercial driver’s licenses (CDL) and commercial learner’s permits (CLP), as well as other interstate drivers operating commercial motor vehicles (CMVs).
Grain News on AgFax
FMCSA originally initiated this action in response to the COVID-19 pandemic on June 9, 2020. The waiver recognizes, as part of States’ phased reopenings, most State Driver Licensing Agencies (SDLAs) have resumed only limited operations. These service limitations may hinder drivers’ attempts to renew CDLs and CLPs or provide SDLAs with medical certificates.
Also, because of limited operations or backlogs, drivers may not be able to schedule physical examinations to comply with the Federal Motor Carrier safety regulations. Effective October 1, 2020, the waiver expires on December 31, 2020.
STB To Hold Meeting on Rail Performance and Planning Issues
The Surface Transportation Board (STB) will hold a virtual meeting of its Rail Energy Transportation Advisory Committee on Wednesday, October 7, 2020. The meeting will facilitate discussions on such issues as rail service, infrastructure planning and development, and effective coordination among suppliers, rail carriers, and users of energy resources.
The agenda may include a review of rail performance measures, industry segment updates by committee members, and a roundtable discussion.
FMCSA Launches New Panel to Collect Feedback on Drivers’ Concerns
The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is launching a new panel of its Motor Carrier Safety Advisory Committee (MCSAC). Hailing from all sectors of the commercial motor vehicle (CMV) industry, the panel will comprise 20 to 25 drivers, including tractor trailer drivers, straight truck drivers, motor coach drivers, hazardous materials drivers, and agriculture haulers.
The panel will give FMCSA direct feedback on the driving community’s concerns, such as safety, hours-of-service regulations, training, parking, and driver experience. The panel aims to capture the CMV community’s varied viewpoints and experiences.
Snapshots by Sector
For the week ending September 17, unshipped balances of wheat, corn, and soybeans totaled 57.9 million metric tons (mmt). This represented a significant increase in outstanding sales from the same time last year. Net corn export sales were 2.1 mmt, up 33 percent from the past week.
Net soybean export sales were 3.2 mmt, up 30 percent from the previous week. Net weekly wheat export sales were 0.351 mmt, up 5 percent from the previous week.
U.S. Class I railroads originated 22,130 grain carloads during the week ending September 19. This was a 3-percent increase from the previous week, 16 percent more than last year, and 5 percent more than the 3-year average.
Average October shuttle secondary railcar bids/offers (per car) were $1,529 above tariff for the week ending September 24. This was $304 more than last week and $1,798 more than this week last year. There were no non-shuttle bids/offers this week.
For the week ending September 26, barge grain movements totaled 510,200 tons. This was 1 percent more than the previous week and 10 percent less than the same period last year.
For the week ending September 26, 312 grain barges moved down river—6 barges fewer than the previous week. There were 712 grain barges unloaded in New Orleans, 12 percent higher than the previous week.
For the week ending September 24, 24 oceangoing grain vessels were loaded in the Gulf—17 percent fewer than the same period last year. Within the next 10 days (starting September 25), 61 vessels were expected to be loaded—56 percent more than the same period last year.
As of September 24, the rate for shipping a metric ton (mt) of grain from the U.S. Gulf to Japan was $43.25. This was 1 percent less than the previous week. The rate from the Pacific Northwest (PNW) to Japan was $23.75 per mt, unchanged from the previous week.
For the week ending September 28, the U.S. average diesel fuel price decreased 1.0 cent from the previous week to $2.394 per gallon, 67.2 cents below the same week last year.