News Briefs – June 24

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Texas Official Says I-20 Should Reopen Monday Evening

Interstate 20 eastbound should be fully reopened by Monday evening, a Texas Department of Transportation official told Transport Topics, following a bus accident that killed at least five on the highway 40 miles east of Dallas. As of 4 p.m. CST Monday, the official said one eastbound lane was clear, with the others expected to be opened in the next several hours. I-20 crosses most of Texas, beginning on I-10 in southwest Texas before splitting off into I-30 and I-85 east of Dallas. The bus, which was carrying teenagers to a religious camp in Louisiana, struck a concrete bridge pillar on the side of the road, the Associated Press reported. A preliminary evaluation of the bridge and beam did not reveal any need for an immediate emergency closure of the area, though follow-ups may reveal more damage once the bus is removed from the accident site, the official said. Transport Topics

CAW Members Hurt in Navistar Strike Altercation

Truck maker Navistar International Corp. said that several striking union members were hurt Monday, one critically, when they confronted a van carrying security guards to an Ontario plant, Bloomberg reported. The strike, which began on June 1, has become more heated as management said it would use replacement workers. Several times last week and again Monday, buses carrying replacement labor to the plant in Chatham, Ontario, were turned back by incensed strikers, Bloomberg said. Six union members were hurt in Monday s incident, mostly receiving bumps and bruises, Canadian Auto Workers spokesman Joe McCabe confirmed to Bloomberg. However, one worker needed to be airlifted to University Hospital in London, Ontario for treatment. Local police said the driver will be charged with dangerous driving, Bloomberg reported. The Chatham factory built 39 trucks a day before CAW members walked off the job. Analysts said the strike likely will not hurt Navistar much because of increased production at the Warrenville, Ill.-based company s Mexican plant, Bloomberg said. No new talks have been scheduled since a one-day round of negotiations on June 18. Transport Topics

More Countries Join Fight Over U.S. Steel Tariffs

China, Switzerland and Norway were added to the official list of nations who have filed a complaint with the World Trade Organization over a U.S. increase in tariffs on imported steel, the Associated Press reported Monday. Tariffs could discourage steel imports, helping truckers who carry domestic steel, but hurting truckers who pick up steel at ports. A WTO panel had been formed earlier this month to hear a complaint from the European Union over the tariffs. Japan and South Korea have also filed a complaint against the U.S. Trade officials in the U.S. say the tariffs are consistent with WTO rules, AP reported. Transport Topics

Nissan Debuts Diesel Hybrid Truck

Nissan Diesel Motor Co., the truck- and bus-making unit of Nissan Motor Co., launched what it is calling the first commercial hybrid vehicle using a capacitor, Japan Economic Newswire reported Monday. The truck, which employs a diesel engine, electric motor and capacitor, is based on Nissan Diesel s 4-ton Condor truck. A capacitor is a device using at least two conducting plates separated by insulating material and used for storing an electric charge. The hybrid power system allows the truck to operate with greater fuel efficiency, the company said. Nissan Diesel expects to sell about 30 hybrid trucks a year, the story said. Transport Topics

Accidents Threaten Michigan I-75 Truck Lane

Several accidents, including one fatal incident involving a motorcyclist last week, have led the Michigan Department of Transportation to consider closing a 6.2-mile stretch along the route to the Ambassador Bridge completely, the Detroit Free Press reported. The lane has been designated trucks-only, but police cannot enforce the restriction so passenger vehicles routinely use the route, the Free Press said. The recent accidents were not caused by trucks, the story said, and the MDOT has not set a date for a decision on closing the road for safety reasons. Construction is set along the strip for five months beginning June 8, and MDOT decided to open one lane to commercial vehicles only to minimize delays for them while keeping as many big-rigs off the smaller detour highways as possible, the Free Press said. Transport Topics

OPEC Plans to Maintain Output Levels

Members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries meeting this week are expected to hold crude oil production at current levels, Bloomberg reported Monday. OPEC s quotas were designed to support the price of oil, which, in turn, translates to the prices of diesel fuel and gasoline. If OPEC decides against increasing output, Bloomberg said, it risks losing market share to non-OPEC countries like Russia and Norway, which are ending their agreements to comply with OPEC standards in order to boost oil prices, Bloomberg said. Bloomberg reported that supply levels in the U.S. remain high and the usual summer increase in demand has been half of the rate of the 1990s, the story said. As a result, crude oil prices, and in turn diesel and gasoline prices, have remained low, helping the trucking industry. Brent crude oil rose 0.6% or 14 cents to $24.89 in trading on the International Petroleum Exchange in London , Bloomberg reported. Transport Topics

Eaton Chief Only Sees Mild Indications of Rebound

Despite rosy reports on the state of the economy, the chief executive officer of Eaton Corp. told the New York Times Sunday that he believes the U.S. economy is just barely showing signs of coming back. Alexander Cutler, who has guided Eaton through the elimination of 19 plants and 12,000 workers in the past year-and-a-half, said that the comparisons to the recession of the early 1990s are off. Cutler thinks a better parallel can be drawn to the recession of 1981 and 1982 the worst since World War II, the Times reported. The Times reported Cutler s contention that real signs of recovery won t be visible until the fall, and even then, companies will be reluctant to spend, possibly risking overexpansion. Corporate spending is a major driver of the economy, and can really be a boost to the trucking industry that depends on spending and factory orders for much of its revenue. Eaton, which makes hydraulic and electric devices and truck and auto parts, says it, like many of its customers, is still declining, the Times said. Most of Eaton s customers are other manufacturers, making it a good indication of the health of the sector. Transport Topics

National Gasoline Price Rises, Lundberg Says

Higher prices in the West and a temporary slowdown in production pushed the average nationwide price of gasoline up .7 cents to $1.44 per gallon in the past two weeks, according to the Lundberg Survey released June 23. While the biggest over-the-road trucks use diesel fuel, a significant number of smaller commercial trucks run on gasoline. Prices dipped in most regions of the country, analyst Trilby Lundberg said, but larger hikes in some western states offset falling national prices. The national weighted average price of gasoline, including taxes, at self-serve pumps Friday was about $1.41 per gallon for regular, $1.51 for mid-grade and $1.60 for premium. The current price is about 19 cents below the price at this time last year. Looking ahead, Lundberg noted pump price direction will be determined mostly by the outcome of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries’ upcoming crude oil production decision. The cartel is scheduled to meet Wednesday, the Associated Press reported. Transport Topics Previous News Briefs[2]

2002, Transport Topics, American Trucking Associations Inc.
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