Hurricane Harvey: Transportation Impacts 09/05/2017

Texas continues to assess the destruction of Hurricane Harvey more than a week after its initial landfall. Neighborhoods remain severely flooded and thousands of people remained in shelters through the storm-ravaged parts of Texas and Louisiana.

Transportation Mode Updates from Carrier Assessments

Freight activity has resumed in some parts of the affected area, with drivers beginning to move loads late last week. There are still road closures, particularly in the Houston area that could extend delays and result in out-of-route miles as drivers navigate around conditions on the ground. Pickups and deliveries are suspended in some locations and delays are expected to continue into the coming weeks. Active communication between carriers, suppliers, and customers is imperative for coordinating short- and long-term recovery efforts. Many rail and trucking carriers are providing additional notices of disruptions and service outages on their websites.

Rail: Rail service continue to experience some interruptions.


BNSF rail yards at Silsbee, Galveston and Beaumont remain closed due to flooding. The South Yard, Dayton Yard and Casey Yard have reopened with limited operations. The Houston (Pearland) Intermodal Facility is accessible through our automated gate system (AGS) and train loading and unloading operations have resumed. The Houston (Pearland) Automotive Facility is also now open with unloading operations starting back up today. Customers should be advised that road closures in the area may continue to impact access to facilities that have re-opened. Day shift operations at the Port Terminal Railroad Association (PTRA) yards are expected to resume tomorrow.

Trains that are currently staged will be ready to move as blocked routes are cleared and destinations are able to receive. We continue to re-route or divert as much traffic as possible around the area until flood waters recede and storm damaged lines can be repaired. Routes are open into central Texas and traffic is moving through San Antonio, including trains destined for Mexico through our Eagle Pass gateway.

BNSF Service Update – Hurricane Harvey


Many affected areas continue to re-open for rail service.  Embargo #’s KCS000217, BNSF001017, BNSF000917, BNSF001217, UP000617, UP000217, UP000117, UP000717 covering traffic moving through to destinations serviced by the KCS, KCSM, BNSF and UP lines through the southern US and Mexico remain in effect but have been amended to remove various stations.

For those destinations remaining under embargo, Shippers originating on CN lines have the option to:

  1. Arrange for the shipment to move to an alternate location not affected by the embargo through a change in waybill information
  2. Elect to leave the railcar in “embargo hold” at their sidings.

There would be no demurrage charges incurred while the railcar is in “embargo hold”. Once the embargo is cancelled all cars in “embargo hold” will be automatically released and ready for movement.


The Rosenberg subdivision opened up over the weekend permitting cross-border traffic to and from Houston (Kendleton). Due to the continued saturated conditions of the land and repair work, strict speed limits of 10mph are in effect. Delays should be expected on all routes for some time while KCS reduce backlog and respect imposed speed restrictions given the conditions.

The Beaumont subdivision remains closed at this time but conditions are improving.  The Sabine River’s water level has dropped and highways and roadways are now open making things more accessible.

Force Majeure remains in effect. South and Northbound cross-border embargoes for locations of Houston, Corpus Christi, Victoria, Rosenberg to and from Laredo have been lifted. Due to the inability to pass through the Beaumont Sub at this time, embargoes for traffic through the Beaumont Sub remain in effect until further notice.

KCS Service Update – Hurricane Harvey


 Where repairs have been completed the UP is, or will soon be, operating trains.

The following areas have been returned to service:

  • Baytown Subdivision between Market Street Yard and Dayton, Texas
  • Coleto Creek Subdivision running west out of Victoria, Texas
  • Sealy Industrial Lead from Sealy to Katy, Texas
  • Kosmos Industrial Lead from Sinton Junction to just north of Ingleside, Texas
  • Strang Subdivision from Houston to the LaPorte/Strang, Texas, area as a result of repairs to the bridge over the Sims Bayou

The primary focus today is opening lines between Houston and Beaumont, Texas. Once this portion of the railroad is opened, UP will be able to operate traffic directly from the Livonia and Avondale, Louisiana, areas to Houston without the need to run the trains through Pine Bluff, Arkansas.

A complete list of active Union Pacific embargoes can be viewed on our embargo page. The embargoes are for all rail traffic, including automotive shipments.

UP Service Update – Hurricane Harvey

Transportation Updates from Port, Depots, and Support Assessments

Vessel Traffic at the ports will reopen when channels have been deemed safe by the US Coast Guard.

Brownsville – Open with no restrictions

Corpus Christi – Open with the following restrictions:

  • All vessels are restricted to a draft not to exceed 43 feet.
  • All foreign registered vessels 100 gross registered tons or larger, all domestic tank vessels 10,000 gross registered tons or larger, and all domestic non-tank vessels 1,600 gross registered tons or larger must:
  1. Conduct one way transits only;
  2. Have a minimum of 2 pilots for each transit; and
  3. Transit during daylight hours only.

Freeport – The Port of Freeport is now open to vessels with less than 33ft draft limited to daylight. The Port’s administration offices will reopen with normal operating hours on Tuesday, September 05, 2017.

Galveston – The Port is now open to vessels with maximum draft 37ft with no night restrictions.

Houston – All Port Houston facilities have resumed normal operations.

Market Impacts & Highway Updates

Market Impact


While businesses in the affected area are beginning to reopen, there may continue to be workforce limitations as staffers continue to deal with the storm’s impact on their personal properties. According to the Texas Department of Public Safety, more than 200,000 homes have been damaged and more than 13,500 destroyed. Estimates are expected to rise as the hardest hit areas become accessible. As a result many workers have been displaced from their homes and finding stable housing for those who cannot return to their homes could take some time.     


Freight availability into and out of the region has declined, with the reefer market experiencing a more volatile impact. Flatbed capacity will have an immediate effect, followed by refrigerated and dry trailers. The effects of capacity constraints are far-reaching, well beyond the areas directly impacted by the storm. The impact on trucking is projected to limit operations at about a quarter of trucking operations in the affected region.


Fuel prices in every state have risen in the aftermath of Harvey, with the national average up about 33 cents since the days prior to the hurricane’s landfall. Supply issues from refineries in the impacted region may continue to create shortages in Southeast and Mid-Atlantic regions but many refineries are in the process of going back online and ramping up production.


Freight pricing is also being effected by Harvey. Carriers may ask for a surcharge per load to cover extra expenses related to Harvey and to ensure that equipment is kept moving. Additionally, spot pricing for trucking services could jump as much as 5% in the next several weeks, especially in Texas and central southern states, according to FTR.

Highway Updates

Hurricane Harvey closed hundreds of roads in Southeast Texas and western Louisiana. As the waters recede in the impacted areas, officials access the damage of prolonged flooding to roads and bridges. Some roadways remain closed due to high water and damaged condition.

 Please see link below for specific details.

TX Roadways Impacted By Harvey

LA Roadways Impacted By Harvey