Moving Grain: Panama Canal Schedules Lock Maintenance, Repair Work

    Panama Canal Schedules Lock Maintenance and Repair Work

    On August 30, 2021, the east lane of Miraflores Panamax locks on the Panama Canal will be closed for 10 hours of maintenance and repair work. During this time, the transit capacity of the Panamax Locks is estimated at 28-30 vessels per day, rather than the normal capacity of 34-36 vessels.

    Also, from August 30 to September 9, 2021, there will be culvert outage at the center wall of the Miraflores locks for repair and maintenance work. During that time, transit capacity of the Panamax Locks is estimated at 24-26 vessels per day, rather than the normal capacity of 34-36 vessels.

    Capacity (whether normal or constricted) depends on the types of vessels transiting, transit restrictions, and other factors. Vessels may experience some transit delays, but no major delays are anticipated.

    National Waterways Foundation Details the Economic Value of Inland Waterways in 17 States

    Using research and data from various government sources, the National Waterways Foundation (NWF) collaborated with Cambridge Systematics Inc. to estimate the economic value of inland-waterways systems in 17 States: Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.

    Released on August 11, individual State profiles detail each State’s current commodity flows (including top inland commodities by weight and value); accessible inland waterways (including number of miles of navigable waterways within the State); and waterways-dependent industries (including those that benefit most). Readers will also find information on each State’s number of inland waterways-supported jobs, associated State and local tax revenues, and relationship between inland-waterways freight volumes and trucking demand.

    New ATRI Research Develops Assessment Tool for Finding Safe Young Drivers

    The American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) recently released the results of its preliminary research to identify the safest 18-20 year-old drivers. Reliable safety assessment is a critical component of expanding eligibility for interstate commercial driver’s licenses to younger drivers, as the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has considered doing.

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    The research sample included 75 current commercial truck drivers, aged 20-60 years old, with diverse driving experience and safety performance. After assessing the effects of various personality traits, the researchers found drivers in the safest group scored highest on “conscientiousness” and “agreeableness,” and lowest on “experience-seeking.”

    Also, drivers in the “less safe” group appeared somewhat more sensitive to conflict, indicating difficulties with cognitive control. Based on the success of its initial research, ATRI plans to expand the assessment to increase the sample of 18-20 year-old drivers and expand the range of traits assessed.

    Snapshots by Sector

    Export Sales

    For the week ending August 12, unshipped balances of wheat, corn, and soybeans totaled 12.0 million metric tons (mmt). This was 8 percent lower than last week and 16 percent lower than the same time last year.

    Net corn export sales were 0.216 mmt, down 43 percent from the past week. Net soybean export sales were 0.068 mmt, down 30 percent from the previous week. Net weekly wheat export sales were 0.307 mmt, up 5 percent from last week.


    U.S. Class I railroads originated 19,488 grain carloads during the week ending August 14. This was a 7-percent increase from the previous week, 13 percent less than last year, and 9 percent lower than the 3-year average.

    Average September shuttle secondary railcar bids/offers (per car) were $51 below tariff for the week ending August 19. This was $91 less than last week and $709 lower than this week last year. There were no non-shuttle bids/offers this week.


    For the week ending August 21, barged grain movements totaled 401,478 tons. This was 26 percent lower than the previous week and 56 percent lower than the same period last year.

    For the week ending August 21, 254 grain barges moved down river—80 fewer barges than the previous week. There were 487 grain barges unloaded in New Orleans, 5 percent lower than the previous week.


    For the week ending August 19, 24 oceangoing grain vessels were loaded in the Gulf—31 percent fewer than the same period last year. Within the next 10 days (starting August 20), 31 vessels were expected to be loaded—24 percent fewer than the same period last year.

    As of August 19, the rate for shipping a metric ton (mt) of grain from the U.S. Gulf to Japan was $81.50. This was 3 percent more than the previous week. The rate from the Pacific Northwest to Japan was $44.00 per mt, 2 percent more than the previous week.


    For the week ending August 23, the U.S. average diesel fuel price decreased 3.2 cents from the previous week to $3.324 per gallon, 89.8 cents above the same week last year.

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