The powerful snowstorm that hit the mid-Atlantic Monday caused enough accidents to block traffic on Interstate 95 in Virginia from just south of Washington to just north of Richmond — a nearly 50-mile stretch.
Snow amounts were higher than expected and most of it hit during the afternoon rush hour. Also, roads froze over quickly. The daylong shutdown stranded hundreds of truckers and other drivers in below-freezing temperatures overnight. The highway finally reopened Tuesday evening after damaged and broken-down vehicles were cleared.
One of the truckers who got stuck in the gridlock works for Bully Breed Logistics, based in Fredericksburg, Virgina, in the heart of the road closure. Company owner Jeremy Slovak told FreightWaves that the driver was coming back from Wilmington, Delaware.
“We tried to deliver yesterday [Monday]. They said that they couldn’t take it. So, we had to drive back with that load,” Slovak said, explaining that the load was refused due to lack of staff at the receiver.
The driver slept in his truck in the middle lane of I-95 in Occuquan, about 30 miles north of Fredericksburg. He was eventually able to take an exit for U.S. Highway 1 after traffic began inching along at daybreak Tuesday.
For a small regional carrier like Bully Breed, which has just four trucks, this was a lot of wasted time and money.
“I gotta pay my driver for that. I gotta pay for the fuel for that. Then the cold and the ice and the salt, they cause a lot of problems for the trucks,” Slovak explained. “Maintenance, wear and tear.”
The shipment that came back was a load of rolled paper. Because of the storm, Slovak held all other freight that was ready to go. This included a load of construction equipment for a roofing company, as well as a load of arcade games.
Slovak said total losses, including projected lost revenue, will probably be close to $10,000.
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“It hurts real bad. I’m having to go into my reserves, my little nest egg, for repairs and stuff that I have, just to make sure my guys are paid,” Slovak said. “If I have the money, I’ll pay my guys, even though they’re staying home. It’s not their fault. They got families to feed.”
Slovak said he knows of other local small carriers feeling similar pain. He believes his company can survive without going into the red.
“We’ll make it through,” Slovak said. “We’ve had worse.”
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