California Department of Transportation
A Caltrans detour map around the I-10 bridge closure.

I-10 bridge closure costs trucking industry $2.5M a day

The I-10 Tex Wash bridge closure is adding an additional cost of approximately $2.5 million per day to the trucking industry, according to data collected by the American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI).

The bridge, which supported eastbound traffic between Southern California and Phoenix, collapsed on Sunday afternoon after flash floods near Desert Center. According to the Los Angeles Times, more than 3,100 truck drivers travel on I-10 between Coachella and Arizona every day.

Drivers are being re-routed dozens of miles off-course, which is resulting in hours-long delays that have led to the loss of productivity. Delays are showing up in shipment and fuel costs, and, since drivers are paid by the mile, when they are rerouted several hundred miles, those costs increase as well, The LA Times said.

If the segment remained closed for a month, the cost would total an additional $75 million to those trucks delivering freight in that area, ATRI said.

The bridge is scheduled to reopen on Friday, according to California’s Transportation Department, and traffic will be diverted to the westbound bridge. Work will continue on the eastbound bridge until it is functional, according to the LA Times.

The bridge collapse occurred just two days before the Senate postponed coming up with a way to fund a multiyear highway bill. Current federal transportation authorization, which supports the country’s transportation and infrastructure projects, expires on July 31. Last week, the House voted to extend the current authorization into December.

To make its calculations, ATRI used federal estimates of truck counts to identify daily traffic along the closed stretch of I-10. ATRI said it then utilized its database of truck GPS data to verify in real-time where the majority of trucks are rerouting (routes below).  The institute said it used its Operational Cost of Trucking cost per mile to calculate the daily cost of the detours for those trucks and a monthly cost if the detour were to continue for a month.

ATRI said it is not able to account for congestion on the detour routes, which would likely increase the delay and operating costs for those routes.

Two major detours:

  • South detour: SR-86 to SR-111 to I-8 to AZ-SR-85 (approximately 292 miles)

  • North detour: SR-62 to AZ-SR-95 (approximately 185 miles)

  • Approximately 8,000 trucks impacted daily in the closed segment.

  • Normal operations along the approximately 50-mile stretch of I-10 is $670,400 for those 8,000 trucks, ATRI calculates.

Assuming 4,000 trucks take the north detour and 4,000 take the south, those 8,000 trucks will experience an additional cost of $2.5 million per day. Again, if the segment remained closed for a month, the cost would total an additional $75 million to those trucks.

About the Author

Cristina Commendatore

Cristina Commendatore was previously the Editor-in-chief of FleetOwner magazine. She reported on the transportation industry since 2015, covering topics such as business operational challenges, driver and technician shortages, truck safety, and new vehicle technologies. She holds a master’s degree in journalism from Quinnipiac University in Hamden, Connecticut.

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