Trucking Restarts in Northeast Post-Sandy

Trucking Restarts in Northeast Post-Sandy

Trucking companies are reopening terminals closed during Hurricane Sandy, returning to some semblance of normal operations in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast, although access to the hardest-hit parts of the region remains limited Thursday.

But it's not business as usual.

Motor carriers and truck drivers could face transportation bottlenecks in some areas, and fuel shortages where power outages have closed fueling stations. Many gas stations in New Jersey reportedly began running out of fuel Wednesday.

Two Phillips 66 oil refineries that account for about 25 percent of the Northeast’s refining capacity remained shut down Wednesday. Truckers heading to the Northeast — especially New York and New Jersey — should fill up beforehand.

Carriers also need to keep in close touch with customers to ensure they are ready for pickups and deliveries. “Power outages remain widespread in effected areas and many customers remain closed,” regional carrier New Penn said in a notice.

New Penn, the Northeast regional subsidiary of YRC Worldwide, reopened Wednesday after being closed Monday and Tuesday. The less-than-truckload carrier decided to close 24 terminals, citing the safety of its more than 2,000 employees.

“There are significant challenges accessing customers in Metro New York, northern New Jersey and the New Jersey shoreline,” the areas hardest hit by Hurricane Sandy, New Penn said. Those challenges are likely to last for more than a week.

The Port of New York and New Jersey, the largest East Coast container port and a major conduit for imported fuel, is likely to remain closed until at least Saturday, idling trucks waiting for freight, as marine terminals clean up damage.

Damage and flooding along the New Jersey shore and parts of Long Island were severe. Hoboken, N.J., across the Hudson River from Manhattan, is struggling with floodwaters, as are several communities on Long Island’s South Shore.

Contact William B. Cassidy at wcassidy@joc.com. Follow him on Twitter at @wbcassidy_joc.