On November 15, 2021, President Joe Biden signed the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act into law. While the country, the media and politicians are buzzing about what this new legislation will mean for cities, states and the country writ large, automotive industry players are examining how this bill will impact logistics, particularly when shovels begin hitting the pavement and the bill’s provisions start getting enacted.
For many months, carriers have not only been facing a labor shortage, backlogs and delays in the supply chain, rising fuel costs, more frequent – as well as lengthier – hauls, but also strains on capacity that stem from these colliding factors. Now, many logistics providers and carriers are wondering whether this newly signed infrastructure bill will alleviate any of these constraints, as well as how else this bill may impact them directly.
Roads and Bridges
Today, much of the nation’s critical bridge system along the interstate highway network is getting close to the end of its 50- to 70-year lifespan. With 3.5 million truck drivers moving freight along the country’s highway system every day, it becomes even more critical to the economy ensure our infrastructure is reliable, in good repair and less likely to cause damage to vehicles that pass through.
In an effort to address these road-and-bridge infrastructure issues across the country, the bill contains $110 billion, which is designated for building and fixing roads, bridges and highways. This amount represents a 38% increase in road and bridge funding. From 2022 to 2026, at least $52 billion per year will be appropriated from the Highway Trust Fund for improvements and safety projects throughout the US. Additionally, $600-700 million per year will be set aside for a bridge investment program that focuses on building and repairing bridges.
But while many in the industry look forward to the long-term impacts from the bill’s efforts toward fixing and rebuilding this important infrastructure, there are also anticipations that in the short-term, construction on roads and bridges could cause even more roadblocks, delays and disruptions to an already-strained supply-chain.
The team at ACERTUS has also been looking at what this bill will mean for carriers, drivers, the supply chain and the industry in the months and years to come. A definite positive in the bill is the funding that will go toward more reliable roads and bridges, improving driving conditions once the projects are completed. But such investments in infrastructure also guarantees significant construction along the country’s highway system, which will likely cause temporary backlogs and delays. Additionally, while this $110 billion amount represents significant funding toward roads and bridges, all in all, it makes up only about 12% of the total spending in the bill.
Missing from the bill is funding to help address the truck-parking shortage across the country. Expanding that parking capacity would have significantly helped carriers, especially smaller carriers, since there is currently only 313,000 truck-parking spaces around the country according to the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). Oftentimes, carriers are forced to park and stay in unsafe areas overnight, as a result of this shortage. For the last few years, many in the industry have been pushing Congress for funding for not only expanded truck-parking capacity, but also for improvements upon the parking and rest stations that currently exist. Undoubtedly, the industry will continue to push for such funding and safe, expanding parking areas to be built and rebuilt across the country.
Another significant piece of the bill is funding to support and promote electric vehicle (EV) ownership, including infrastructure to support EVs and the country’s electric grid. In fact, there is $7.5 billion set aside to help create a nationwide network of EV-charging stations, with the stated goals of expediting EV adoption, reducing carbon pollution from the transportation sector, boosting the efficiency of cars and trucks and moving the country toward reducing greenhouse gas-pollution reduction by the year 2030.
The White House has stated that funds will be used to build out EV charging stations, particularly along highway corridors, that can help with long-distance EV travel. There will also be funding allocated for local EV charging. The Biden administration’s goal is to eventually have a network of at least 500,000 EV-charging stations strategically located throughout the nation. In addition to the EV-charging infrastructure funding, the bill also contains another $65 billion investment in renewable clean energy for the US electricity grid, with high-voltage electric-transmission lines set to be funded and more money headed to various clean-energy technology projects.
One of the most obvious implications of all this EV-related funding is that it will make driving and charging EVs easier for consumers and businesses that use them. It will also further encourage automakers’ already-existent efforts to move toward expanding and improving upon their EV production.
While drive-away drivers moving one EV at a time must plan out where and when to charge the vehicle, for carriers hauling EVs, it won’t change many aspects of their normal operations.
However, carriers have an 82,000-pound weight limit on what they can haul, and because EVs weigh significantly more than fuel-based vehicles due to the weight of their batteries, carriers moving multiple EVs have to worry more about the overall weight of their load and ensure they still fall within the proper weight limit for their particular truck and area. Not only can heavy EVs stretch capacity too thin, push the load factor down, cause damage to a flatbed truck or even cause potential service issues along a transport route, but it can also put carriers in violation of various compliance requirements throughout the country. Carriers do not want to face heavy audit fines for violating weight limits held by International Fuel Tax Agreement (IFTA) and International Registration Plan (IRP) regulations – or acquire additional fines for not following Highway Use Taxes (HUT) or Weight/Mile Taxes regulations where those apply.
Members of the US Congress are looking at possible legislation that would help extend these weight limits, particularly for carriers hauling all or a majority of EVs. But since that legislation is not law yet, the industry will have to continue to work around these heavy electrified vehicles, the specific capacities their flatbed trucks can carry and various compliance restrictions that apply.
Other Elements to Watch
Beyond the funding for roads, bridges and EV-related infrastructure, the newly signed bill also contains some other pieces that will impact carriers across the country. The bill also contains language around a new apprenticeship program to help address the shortage of available carriers. This new program would allow 18- to 20-year-olds, who currently can’t hold a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) for interstate travel, to be able to get a CDL before they’re 21 as long as they follow certain safety regulations. Many in the industry are hoping this could alleviate some of the strains with the current labor shortage, especially since many carriers left these jobs during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic and still others are fast-approaching retirement age.
The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act also prioritizes building out broadband-internet infrastructure across the US. While this investment will certainly benefit individuals, families and businesses that currently operate in either urban or rural areas without reliable internet access and connectivity, it will likely also benefit the truck drivers who are the lifeblood of economy and often travel through no-cell zones. The supply chain is becoming increasingly digitized, and as such, strong connectivity of players throughout the supply chain is critical for ensuring those players can share important information back and forth, as well as for ensuring digital operations continue to run smoothly. Any boost to internet access and connection strength – particularly in remote areas – would only benefit carriers ability to move quickly and efficiently.
ACERTUS as a Vehicle-Logistics Partner
The ACERTUS team is closely monitoring the effects of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and is uniquely positioned to navigate the current supply-chain hurdles, provide flexibility to the companies its teams work with and deliver visibility into the overall process. ACERTUS blends technology, infrastructure, people and experience to create an intelligent approach to logistics. By partnering with ACERTUS, companies have access to a technology platform that provides visibility into every aspect of the journey, a carrier fleet that provides flexible capacity, an unmatched infrastructure for storage, repair and reconditioning and a drive-away service with high-touch customization.
No matter the improvements or hurdles that stem from the implementation of this new infrastructure bill in the months and years ahead, ACERTUS’ team members are ready to jump into action, navigate any challenges and offer a full suite of vehicle services to a wide variety of automotive partners.
Learn more about ACERTUS’ car haul services, as well as its full range of transport and automotive-logistics solutions, at https://acertusdelivers.com. To connect with one of our team members or receive a quote, contact us here or call us at this phone number: 855-ACERTUS (855-223-7887).