InsightsNewsTop StoriesTruckingWeather and Critical Events

Small carriers taking big hits from I-95 shutdown

Snowstorm led to accidents, 24-hour closure in Virginia

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.


Related: Storm blamed for barge crashing into Virginia transmission tower


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.


Related: Chaining up: 4 pro tips for truckers


“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.”

Click here for more FreightWaves articles by Nick Austin.

You might also like:

51-year Sierra snowfall record shattered

A look back: 6 impactful weather events in 2021 transportation

How ‘killer’ summer heat stole the Christmas tree supply

2 Comments

  1. This site is infected with bots and the ridiculous spammed messages.
    There is no way a carrier with four trucks should be in any sort of desperation over having one shutdown on interstate 95 with a 1-day delay. If their business is really ran that tight they have very little business skills to begin with and will probably go belly up as soon as the rates turn around and go back down normal !!

    1. I agree with you completely…I’ve been in logistics about 40 years and the only way a small carrier is hurting is if they suck at doing business. Right now it’s a carriers market and the drivers are the catalyst, they go where they want, take what they want and set the price. So if they are hurting it’s greed and misuse of their assets. I crack up when a carrier tells me they are having financial issues. When the market turns around, and it will, who will be crying the loudest? The ones who aren’t making the money or the ones who really suck at running their business?

Nick Austin

Nick is a meteorologist with 20 years of forecasting and broadcasting experience. He was nominated for a Midsouth Emmy for his coverage during a 2008 western Tennessee tornado outbreak. He received his Bachelor of Science in Meteorology from Florida State University, as well as a Bachelor of Science in Management from the Georgia Tech. Nick is a member of the American Meteorological Society and National Weather Association. As a member of the weather team at WBBJ-TV in Jackson, Tennessee, Nick was nominated for a Mid-South Emmy for live coverage of a major tornado outbreak in February 2008. As part of the weather team at WRCB-TV in Chattanooga, Tennessee, Nick shared the Chattanooga Times-Free Press Best of the Best award for “Best Weather Team” eight consecutive years.