Key points:

  • The collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge has prompted urgent calls for emergency regulatory waivers to alleviate financial distress and supply chain disruptions for truckers.
  • Truckers are grappling with increased challenges, including longer routes and different regulations, due to the collapsed bridge, significantly complicating operations.
Three men standing in a warehouse managing ending inventory counts

 

 The collapse of a segment of the Francis Scott Key Bridge along Interstate 695 has triggered a cascade of challenges for truckers. This prompted urgent calls for emergency regulatory waivers to avert financial distress and supply chain disruptions.

Louis Campion, president and CEO of the Maryland Motor Truck Association (MMTA), outlined these concerns in a letter. It was addressed to Paul Wiedefeld, secretary of the state transportation department. The MMTA has urged swift action. This action is aimed at alleviating the burdens faced by truckers unable to operate at the closed Port of Baltimore or retrieve fuel from Curtis Bay.

The collapsed bridge has forced truckers to navigate longer routes and contend with different regulations, significantly complicating operations. Hazardous material haulers, for instance, face a 30-mile detour to access fuel in Curtis Bay. On the other hand, intermodal trucking companies face the challenge of picking up loads in Norfolk, approximately 238 miles away.

In response to these challenges, MMTA has proposed several emergency regulatory measures. These actions include extending driver hours of service and opening limited routes to avoid traffic congestion. Authorities are also issuing exceptions to mandatory electronic logging devices. Additionally, the association is seeking 90-day waivers for truckers hauling freight to and from adjacent states. This will allow them to navigate regulatory hurdles more effectively.

Beyond regulatory relief, MMTA emphasizes the need for financial support to sustain local businesses reliant on trucking operations. With waterways closed for delivery, the economic activity of many trucking companies faces imminent chokeholds. This is prompting calls for financial assistance. It’s similar to Small Business Administration loans granted to Philadelphia companies following a similar bridge-related crisis.

As government officials deliberate on these urgent matters, MMTA underscores the critical role of trucks in supporting Maryland’s manufacturing, agricultural, and retail sectors. The association urges swift action to ensure the continued provision of essential transportation services amidst the ongoing challenges posed by the bridge collapse.