Road Economic Competitiveness
Truck Tonnage and Value
Nationally, the trucking industry employs 7.9 million people to move more than 71 percent of the total domestic freight valued at $11.5 trillion. (Source: FreightWaves.com. Online article: American Trucking Association (ATA) and Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) team up on parking letter sent to Buttigieg. (2022). United States Department of Transportation (USDOT), Bureau of Transportation Statistics. Transportation Statistics Annual Report. (2020).)
The same holds true in the OKI region. Trucks carry most of the region’s freight by both weight and value. In 2017, trucks carried 67.5 percent or 116.6 million tons of all freight tonnage in the OKI region. Almost 37 percent of truck tonnage is transported entirely within the eight-county area. Trucks deliver a variety of commodities critical to keeping businesses in the Tristate running. Gravel, nonmetal mineral products, gasoline, waste/scrap, and foodstuffs top the list of commodities having the highest tonnage transported within the OKI region by truck.
At 96 percent of the total truck tonnage and 84 percent of the total truck value, most of the region’s truck freight is domestic. In 2017, the value of freight handled by trucks in the region was $189,807 million, or 74.3 percent of the region’s total freight value. Commodities used to serve the advanced manufacturing industry comprise almost 34 percent or $64.2 billion dollars of the total value of truck freight for the OKI region.
(Source: Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). (2017). Freight Analysis Framework Version 5.2 (FAF 5.2) Regional Database for 2017 and forecasts up to 2050 (mid-range estimates only). [Data set].)
Impact of E-Commerce of Trucking
The American consumer shift from brick-and-mortar shopping to online e-commerce has had a huge impact on fueling the growth of trucks on all roadways of all types. Nationally, e-commerce comprised about five percent of all U.S. retail sales in the fourth quarter of 2010; 8 percent in 2015; and 16 percent in 2020. This shows how e-commerce growth has accelerated in the second half of the decade — having doubled in five years. This trend creates everything from more demand for large trucks to keep distribution centers stocked and ready for same-day, overnight deliveries — to smaller trucks on our local, neighborhood streets delivering a single box to our front doors. (Source: United States Department of Commerce. United States Census Bureau News. Quarterly Retail E-Commerce Sales. (2021).)
According to the American Trucking Research Institute (ATRI), U.S. drivers lose $4,500 in productivity each year due to the lack of adequate truck parking.
A private carrier is a company that uses its own fleet to deliver goods. Given the number of J.B. Hunt, Schneider, Yellow and other large truck companies we see on our roadways, people are usually surprised to learn that 86 percent of all carriers operate a small fleet, which range in sizes from one to six power units or tractors. The large carriers like those listed above and that have fleet sizes of more than 100 power units comprise less than one percent of all carriers. (Source: Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). (2020). Motor Carrier Management Information System (MCMIS). [Data set].)
A Power Unit or Tractor is the head of the truck and contains the engine and driver cab. Power units get connected and pull the truck’s van or box, flatbed or reefer trailer.
There are about 350,000 to 400,000 owner-operators who schedule deliveries and drive their own trucks. Many of them start out as drivers for carriers. Minority owner-operators comprise about 21 percent while women make up 6 percent of the total. Their median net income is $50,000 and most have been truck drivers for more than 20 years. While van or box trailers are the most common type of trailer pulled by power units, most owner-operators pull flatbed or reefer (refrigerated) trailers. (Source: Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association. Industry Facts. (2021).)
Brent Spence Bridge
For more than a half century, the OKI region has been impacted by the I-75/71 Brent Spence Bridge (BSB) Corridor. The Ohio Department of Transportation and Kentucky Transportation Cabinet define the BSB Corridor as the eight miles of Interstate 75 (I-75) and Interstate 71 (I-71) spanning from the Western Hills Viaduct in Hamilton County to just south of Dixie Highway (US 25) in Kenton County. In 2022, OKI estimated that the BSB carries freight worth about $378 billion annually.
Using 2018 data, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) estimated that the total cost of congestion for all vehicles traveling the 9.2-mile BSB Corridor (from the Interstate 275 interchange in Kenton County to the Western Hills Viaduct in Hamilton County) was $26.3 million a year. (Source: Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). (2018). National Performance Management Research Data Sets (NPMRDS). [Data set].)
Many motorists have experienced the impacts of a world without the BSB. In 2020, the bridge was closed for 41 days due to a serious truck crash and explosion, which damaged a large section and required immediate repairs. As part of Transport Ohio, the Ohio Department of Transportation’s (ODOT) statewide freight plan, a study was conducted of the BSB’s closure. Findings showed that more than 13,250 trucks were re-routed, which increased truck trips by nearly 13 minutes and the median trip distance by about 17.6 miles. Further, the study estimated that the BSB closure resulted in about “$23.46 million in additional operating costs to the trucking industry.” (Source: Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT). Transport Ohio, Existing Freight System Performance, Working Paper 5. (2021).)
There is growing regional optimism that Ohio and Kentucky are closer than ever to constructing a companion bridge to the BSB. This confidence has been buoyed by the passage of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) in November 2021. New funding is expected to support construction of a new bridge as well as updates to the current bridge and the interstate network throughout the BSB Corridor.