ATA’s Graves Says Trucking Faces Big Cleanup Job Following Storm

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Fuel Shipments to Utility Workers, First Responders Is Top Priority
The trucking industry is facing a big task in the Northeast following Hurricane Sandy, American Trucking Associations President Bill Graves said in a TV interview Thursday.

Graves told Fox Business News that trucks will need to restock grocery store shelves and cited reports of up to 15,000 damaged cars at the Port of Newark that will need to be disposed of and eventually replaced, adding work for auto carriers.

He said the flatbed sector would see “a whole lot of activity” with the construction materials that will be needed in the cleanup and rebuilding following last week’s storm, and said that trucking was moving fuel as quickly as possible into the affected region.

“We think we’re going to slog through some really slow economic times, and the storm in the Northeast is going to be a drain this quarter, but a lot of rebuilding is going to take place... that alone will perhaps add a little uptick in the next quarter,” he said.

 “We’re getting fuel to every place that we’re physically allowed to move,” Graves said, adding that the first needs were for utility and emergency first-responders.

“I think those needs are being met,” he said, adding that, in the meantime, it’s going to take a while to get fuel to filling stations, some of which don’t have power or are not accessible.

Asked about the general state of trucking, Graves said that “freight levels were pretty well flat” this year and that the economy was likely to remain relatively flat until the third quarter of next year before an uptick.

He also cited the trucking industry’s concerns about finding qualified truck drivers, in part because “it’s a really hard job” with extensive training required, and with new safety rules in place.

New Jersey, where Sandy did most of its damage, was hit by a nor’easter Wednesday that dumped snow on much of the state.

Click here to view the full interview. (Fox Business News website; appx. 4 mins.)