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Bottlenecks, infrastructure undermine alternative fuel trucks

March 7, 2023
Without improving infrastructure, the freight efficiency gains and emissions reductions we hope to get from cleaner alternative fuels will not be fully realized.

For the past 12 years, the American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) has published a report on the top truck bottlenecks by monitoring more than 300 critical freight locations. Bottlenecks slow down trucks and make the movement of goods inefficient. Bottlenecks cost money and add to emissions as trucks sit and wait to move.

See also: ATRI reveals top truck bottlenecks for 2023

The most recent rating of the U.S. infrastructure from the American Society of Civil Engineers is a C-. This is an obvious problem and needs to be addressed. The safety of all drivers is at stake.

The C- grade is bad enough, but over the next several decades, we are going to expect our infrastructure to do even more. As we move toward alternative fuel vehicles, we will need charging and fueling stations for electric vehicles or those using  hydrogen or natural gas. It can take more time to charge an EV than it does to fuel a diesel truck. As a result, we will need to build more charging stations with more parking spaces for trucks. Truck parking is already a big problem in the industry.

The fact that we can’t keep the infrastructure needed by diesel-powered trucks in better than a C- condition makes me concerned about whether we will be able to meet the infrastructure demands of new powertrains.

See also: Charging infrastructure holds back EV truck production, deployment

In addition, autonomous vehicle technology is moving at a rapid pace, and autonomous vehicles need to be able to “see” lane and edge markings to operate safely. Not every road has “readable” edge and lane markings. Autonomous vehicles will require a major upgrade to our infrastructure.

Local, state, and federal agencies need to begin work today to bring up that C- grade. We need to begin working on making improvements now, starting in the most heavily traveled freight corridors and in the areas where the congestion bottlenecks are the most severe.

 If we don’t improve the infrastructure, the freight efficiency gains and emissions reductions we hope to get from these cleaner fuels will not be fully realized. 

Patrick Gaskins, SVP of Corcentric Fleet Solutions, oversees both sales and operations for the company's fleet offerings. Gaskins joined the company in 2010, bringing more than 30 years of experience as a financial services professional in the transportation industry. He leads a team that works with a supply base of more than 160 manufacturers to help the country’s largest fleets manage all aspects of their fleet operations and fleet-related spending.

About the Author

Patrick Gaskins | Senior vice president, Fleet Solutions

Patrick Gaskins is a financial services professional serving the transportation industry for over 30 years. Gaskins earned his BBA in Finance from the University of Miami, FL in 1989, and received his CTP certification from the National Private Truck Council in 2002. He has held positions with GE Capital, TCF Equipment Finance, and various small independent lessors. 

He began his career with Corcentric in 2010 as Vice President of Financial Services, was promoted to Senior Vice President of Sales and Operations, and is now taking the role of Senior Vice President, Fleet Solutions.  In his new role he will lead Corcentric’s Captial Equipment Solutions, Fleet Procurement, Supply Management, and Remarketing teams. Gaskins will bring to the Fleet practice his expertise in developing data driven solutions to complex transportation transactions, driving efficiencies, and reducing expenses for Corcentric’s customers.

The Fleet Solutions practice leverages technology and the purchasing power of over 1,700 member fleets operating approximately 800,000 assets to provide its members with access to cost effective national account purchasing programs, fleet financing, asset management, and remarketing services.

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