With the I-40 Hernando de Soto Bridge connecting Arkansas and Tennessee expected to be closed to traffic for months, new estimates are arising regarding the economic impact of the closure.
“Around 12,500 trucks traveled over the I-40 bridge each day and an additional 14,000 trucks cross the I-55 bridge daily. The closure of the I-40 bridge creates bottlenecks and delays impacting all 26,500 trucks relying on this major freight corridor connecting east and west,” said Arkansas Trucking Association President Shannon Newton in a press release.
Operational cost data provided by the American Transportation Research Institute indicates the average cost of operating a truck to be $71.78 an hour or $1.20 a minute.
“Using GPS data, we can discern that a previous eight-minute drive is now averaging 84 minutes. This additional transit time at $1.20 a minute for 26,500 trucks is costing the trucking industry more than $2.4 million each day that the bridge is closed,” Newton said.
During a press conference on May 12 in Memphis, Tennessee Department of Transportation Chief Engineer Paul Degges said it was too early to tell when the bridge will reopen.
“Certainly, it’s plausible that this could be months rather than weeks,” he said. “We are hopeful that we can find a solution that would allow us to proceed with some opening of traffic, but right now we just don’t know.”
The supply chain and trucking in particular has already been operating at maximum capacity for the past several months due to driver, equipment and fuel shortages, according to the association.
“Freight is like water,” Newton said. “It will continue to flow. Our industry will continue to make deliveries. But if the additional expense is prolonged, it is likely to be passed on to consumers.”
Shippers should prepare for longer transit times and surcharges until the flow of traffic is restored.