Truckers say long waits at Hampton Roads must end

By David Tanner, Land Line associate editor | 2/24/2014

Truckers say long delays at Hampton Roads port terminals are harming their ability to make a living.

Owner-operator George Berry, an OOIDA member from Chesapeake, Va., says delays to get loaded at the port used to be about an hour, but the detention time has grown to three or four hours per trip.

“That’s three or four hours of ‘free time’ because there’s no additional money we’re given for detention time sitting in the port,” Berry told “Land Line Now.”

“It makes it very difficult for the simple fact that a lot of these drivers still have to make their deliveries … and they’re running out of hours.”

Truckers are urging the Port of Virginia to take action, and port leadership has responded by forming the Motor Carrier Task Force.

It will be chaired by port Chief Operating Officer Joseph Ruddy with representatives from motor carriers, service providers, the International Longshoremen’s Association, ocean carriers, shippers and U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

“The motor carrier community plays an extremely vital role in the success of The Port of Virginia – these drivers move two-thirds of the cargo coming in and out of the port – and collectively we can make effective changes for the good,” Ruddy said in a statement.

The task force will go deeper with issues typically handled by the Port Advisory Conference, specifically focusing on safety, turn times, delays at the gates, the availability of chassis and the development of an appointment system.

The appointment system would meter the flow of traffic and eliminate a “rush hour” effect within proximity of the port, according to Ruddy.

Congestion and wait times intensified in October 2012 when Hurricane Sandy took its toll on other port facilities to the north.

And there’s no turning back, Virginia officials say. Larger container ships and the widening of the Panama Canal will continue to grow imports and exports for many facilities including Hampton Roads.

Truckers say another one of the hang-ups is that they are paid by the trip while the longshoremen who handle the containers are paid by the hour.

“They don’t show a sense of urgency,” Berry said. “They’re getting paid regardless of whether we’re sitting there three or four hours.”

Truckers and longshoremen will be at the same table with leadership once the task force begins meeting, and Berry says that’s a good thing.

“We’re willing to sit down, to come to the table and reach some kind of agreement,” Berry said. “We want to see a comprehensive plan with a fair timeline for them to meet our needs.”

“Land Line Now” News Anchor Reed Black contributed to this story.

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