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Friday, March 5, 2021

Logistics Intelligence Brief


Weather hits J.B. Hunt’s Q1; intermodal prospects favorable

Freight Waves Todd Maiden March 4, 2021

John Kuhlow, J.B. Hunt’s CFO, said the winter storms produced “probably one of the hardest winters that we’ve ever seen and it’s spread throughout the U.S.” He described the event as much more compressed than past harsh winters but noted that the company is “still climbing out of that.”

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Walmart to Spend on US Products, Create 750,000 Jobs

Bloomberg/Transport Topics Henry Ren March 3, 2021

Walmart Inc. pledged to support American manufacturers by spending an additional $350 billion on items made, grown or assembled in the U.S. over the next 10 years. The move will help create more than 750,000 U.S. jobs, Walmart U.S. CEO John Furner said March 3 in a blog post. The company will focus on investing in plastics, small electrical appliances, food processing, pharmaceuticals and medical supplies. The investment also will cut an estimated 100 million metric tons of emissions by sourcing closer to customers, Furner said. This is part of the company’s pledge to be carbon neutral by 2040. Link: Walmart Newsroom Investing in the Future of U.S. Manufacturing, Our Commitment to American Jobs

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‘Digitized’ truck makers reaching deeper into supply chains: IBM (Subscription Based)

The Journal of Commerce William B. Cassidy March 4, 2021

Reconfiguring truck and driver A major change already under way is that manufacturers aren’t just selling a product, but the experience associated with that product, and that includes the experience of the carrier and the driver, Stanley said. By 2030, IBM believes, the driving experience will be different. Enhanced driving features were a priority for the manufacturing executives surveyed by IBM. By 2030, the technology firm said, with features that automate some driving, improve vehicle safety, and connect the driver to professional and personal networks at the top of the list. One thing IBM does not expect by 2030: widespread driverless autonomous trucks. “We’re going to continue to have drivers for some time, they’re not going away at least in the next 10 years,” Stanley said. “Maybe it’s time to think about the driver a little bit differently.”

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U.S. Roadway Deaths Rose 8% in 2020, Safety Group Estimates (Subscription Based)

The Wall Street Journal John Kamp March 4, 2021

Motor-vehicle crashes killed nearly 3,000 more people in 2020 than the year before despite Americans driving fewer miles during the pandemic, a nonprofit safety group estimated. The preliminary data, released Thursday by the National Safety Council, show as many as 42,060 people died in motor vehicle crashes last year, including pedestrians, up 8% from 2019. The increase has confounded roadway-safety experts who hoped reduced driving might create a silver lining during a global health crisis. They believe riskier driving, including speeding on less-packed roadways, was a key reason this benefit never materialized. “We saw this uptick here in people driving at higher speeds and it had the tragic consequences we’re now seeing here in the data,” David Harkey, president of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, said in an interview. Link: National Safety Council Motor Vehicle Deaths in 2020 Estimated to be Highest in 13 Years, Despite Dramatic Drops in Miles Driven

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Biden Gets GOP Warning on Infrastructure: Expect to Pay for It

Bloomberg Jennifer Epstein And Mario Parker March 4, 2021

“We’re going to talk about infrastructure and American competitiveness and what we’re going to do to make sure that we once again lead the world across the board on infrastructure,” Biden said at the White House as the meeting got underway. “It not only creates jobs but it makes us a helluva lot more competitive around the world.” But Graves said the plan cannot become “a multi-trillion dollar catch-all bill” or incorporate clean-energy and climate legislation backed by liberals known as the Green New Deal. “Republicans won’t support another Green New Deal disguising itself as a transportation bill,” he said. DeFazio has warned that Democrats won’t be able to use a process called “budget reconciliation” to pass the infrastructure plan. The fast-track process, which will be used to pass the pandemic aid bill, requires only a simple majority of votes in the Senate instead of the 60 normally needed to end filibusters. “There’s no possible way it can fit into reconciliation,” DeFazio said. “If we stick with it, we’re not going to get anything done.

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What Biden’s Sustainability Agenda Means for Business (Subscription Based)

Harvard Business Review Marai Mendiluce March 3, 2021

Carbon pricing is in the pipeline. Indications are that Biden supports carbon pricing legislation — and a price on pollution would significantly impact the U.S. private sector. Companies should set their own internal carbon price now to help identify which parts of their business present the most risk, and they can adjust their strategies and investments accordingly. CDP offers guidelines for companies on how to set a carbon price.

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No Final Hair Testing Rule Yet, but HHS Plans to Add More Drugs to Tests

Transport Topics Eric Miller March 3, 2021

The Department of Health and Human Services could by early next year add fentanyl and methadone to its list of drugs that federal and safety-sensitive workers must be tested for, a top drug official said. However, Ron Flegel, chairman of the federal Drug Testing Advisory Board that developed the controversial proposed mandatory guidelines for federal drug testing using hair samples, was mum at a March 2 meeting on when HHS plans to issue a final hair testing rule. “The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration is currently engaged in reviewing the comments that were received during the public comment period which closed on Nov. 9,” Flegel said. “I believe there were over 700 individual public comments.”

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U.S. Roads Get a ‘D’ on Engineers’ Report Card (Subscription Based)

Truckinginfo.com March 4, 2021

The underfunding of roadway maintenance over the years has resulted in a $786 billion backlog of road and bridge capital needs. The bulk of the backlog ($435 billion) is in repairing existing roads. In addition, $125 billion is needed for bridge repair, $120 billion for targeted system expansion, and $105 billion for targeted system enhancements such as safety, operational and environment projects. Funding required to rehabilitate pavement and other operational conditions will average $53 billion annually. The nation needs to increase current spending levels by 29% to address the current and anticipated backlogs, according to the report. Link: American Society of Civil Engineers 2021 Report Card For America’s Infrastructure

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Biden, Buttigieg Push Infrastructure Plan

The Wall Street Journal Ted Mann March 4, 2021

The last time the federal government raised the gas tax that is supposed to fund improvements to America’s highways, Pete Buttigieg was 11 years old. Some 28 years removed from that gas-tax increase, signed by President Bill Clinton in August 1993, Mr. Buttigieg is the federal transportation secretary, working for another president who will try to deliver where predecessors of both parties have failed: crafting a program to rebuild aging roads, dams and railroads, and finding the political will to pay for it. President Biden met Thursday with Republican and Democratic members of the House of Representatives to discuss his plans for an infrastructure package, a goal that has eluded Democratic lawmakers and his predecessor, Donald Trump, even as members of both parties and outside groups claim there is bipartisan support for such a measure.

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Trottenberg acknowledges driver retention problem during nomination hearing

Land Line Mark Schremmer March 4, 2021

Driver retention Sen. Todd Young, R-Ind., asked about the commitment to a strong supply chain and what Trottenberg would do to combat the trucking industry’s driver shortage. During Young’s question, he noted that more than 80% of U.S. communities rely exclusively on trucks for their freight transportation needs. “I’m coming from a city where get over 90% of our goods via truck,” Trottenberg said. “We certainly recognize what a crucial industry that is. We will work with you not only on driver recruitment but also retention. I know one of the challenges in the trucking industry is that drivers often come in and get trained and then it is hard to retain them.”

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Signs of New Hiring Point to Modest Job Gains, Renewed Growth (Subscription Based)

The Wall Street Journal Eric Morath And Hannah Lang March 5, 2021

“The recent hiring trend is just not cutting it in terms of making up for all the jobs last spring” said Nela Richardson, a Ph.D. economist at human-resources software firm Automatic Data Processing Inc. “But as we reopen the economy, inch-by-inch, that will unleash consumer spending and drive job growth, especially industries that have been most severely affected by the pandemic.”

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