What the Infrastructure Bill Means for Motor Carriers, Capacity Constraints

The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, or more commonly known as the Infrastructure Bill, is multi-faceted, but the future of transportation and logistics finance is at the heart of its concerns. Investments in electric vehicle charging infrastructure and the way electric vehicles are transported are major areas of focus, along with critical funding for our country’s roads, bridges and viaducts.

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The $ 550 billion in new spending breaks down into a few key areas. Logistics companies are closely monitoring the impact of all these changes on the industry, especially during a period of continuous disruption. It’s also important to note some of the lesser-known challenges and upcoming changes.

Roads and bridges

A large percentage of the nation’s critical bridge system along the interstate highway network is nearing the end of its 50-70 year lifespan, which is why $ 110 billion (about 12% of total spending on the bill d ‘infrastructure) are assigned to the construction and repair of roads, bridges and highways. About 3.5 million truckers move goods along the country’s highways every day, which is why it is essential to ensure that our infrastructure is reliable and in good repair.

The $ 110 billion is a 38% increase over current funding for roads and bridges and from 2022 to 2026 at least $ 52 billion from the Highway Trust Fund will be spent each year on improvement and safety projects. across the United States. An additional $ 600-700 million per year will be set aside for a bridge investment program focused on building and repairing bridges. Once construction is completed on more reliable roads and bridges, driving conditions will undoubtedly improve for everyone, not just carriers.

While the long-term impacts of the infrastructure bill remain to be seen, the short-term concerns are valid – as the construction of roads and bridges virtually guarantees major roadblocks, delays along the country’s road network. , likely causing temporary delays and disruption in an already strained supply chain

Also, a crucial piece that is missing from the bill, however, is funding to help alleviate the truck parking shortage in the United States, as increasing that parking capacity would have significantly helped carriers, especially the little ones. According to the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), there are currently only 313,000 truck parking spaces available in the country, forcing transporter drivers to park and stay in dangerous areas from time to time. For years, logistics and transportation service providers have continually pushed Congress for additional funding not only to expand general truck parking capacity, but also for safe and extensive parking and improvements to rest areas. , which are common places for truck drivers to park and take breaks.

Investments in electric vehicles

Another important element of the infrastructure bill is funding to promote ownership of electric vehicles (EVs), including infrastructure to support EVs and the country’s electricity grid. In fact, $ 7.5 billion is earmarked to help create a nationwide network of electric vehicle charging stations, with the stated goals of accelerating the adoption of electric vehicles, reducing carbon pollution from the automotive industry. transport, improve the efficiency of cars and trucks and move the country forward towards reducing greenhouse gas pollution by 2030.

The White House said the funds would be used to build a network of at least 500,000 EV charging stations strategically located across the country, especially along highway corridors, which can aid long-distance EV trips, as well as local EV charging. The bill contains another $ 65 billion investment in clean, renewable energy for the U.S. electricity grid, with high-voltage power transmission lines expected to be funded and more money earmarked for various technology projects clean energy. All of this funding will ultimately make it easier to drive and charge electric vehicles for consumers and the businesses that use them, while further encouraging already existing efforts by automakers to expand and improve their production of electric vehicles.

Carrying the brunt of transporting electric vehicles

An important thing to note is that electric vehicles weigh much more than their internal combustion engine (ICE) counterparts (their batteries are much heavier), carriers moving multiple electric vehicles should be careful of the total weight of their load, especially making sure they are at the correct weight. limit for their truck and their area. Carriers that only move one EV at a time won’t be affected as much by the weight issue, but they will still need to plan where and when to charge the car they are driving.

Heavy-duty electric vehicles can over-stretch capacity, reduce load factor, damage a flatbed truck, or cause potential service issues along a transportation route and put carriers in violation of various compliance requirements across the board. country. Carriers do not want to face heavy audit fines for violating weight limits set by the regulations of the International Fuel Tax Agreement (IFTA) and the International Registration Plan (IRP), or be fined further for failing to comply with Highway Use Tax (HUT) or Weight / Mileage Tax regulations. where these apply.

Right now, Congress is considering possible legislation to extend these weight limits, especially for carriers carrying all or most electric vehicles. This is crucial because it affects the whole process of transporting these vehicles – from the time it takes them to get from point A to point B – to the price it costs the transporter to transport the vehicles and deadlock that limited weight capacities will have across the entire supply chain. Ultimately, without extended weight limits on our roads, there will certainly be capacity issues, simply because carriers will not be able to carry as many electric vehicles as traditional internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles. However, as this possible legislation is not yet law, the industry must continue to work around these electric vehicles, the specific capacities that their flatbed trucks can carry, and the various compliance restrictions that apply.

Other things to watch out for

Beyond funding roads, bridges and infrastructure related to electric vehicles, the infrastructure bill also contains other elements that will impact carriers across the country. For example, there is language around a new apprenticeship program to help address the shortage of available carriers, which would allow young people between the ages of 18 and 20 to obtain a commercial driver’s license (CDL) before they start. be 21 years old, provided they follow certain safety rules. An apprenticeship program like this could ease some of the stresses associated with the current labor shortage, especially as many drivers are approaching retirement age or have quit those jobs at the peak of their time. of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act also gives priority to improving the broadband Internet infrastructure in the United States. This essential but neglected investment will most certainly benefit truck drivers who often travel to areas with limited or no connection to cell phones or the Internet. The supply chain is increasingly digitalized and as such strong connectivity is crucial for carriers to share important information back and forth, as well as to keep digital operations running smoothly. In short, any increase in internet access and connection strength, especially in remote areas, would only benefit the ability of operators to move quickly and efficiently.