Hurricane Harvey: Transportation Impacts 09/06/2017

The destruction that resulted from Hurricane Harvey is expected to make the storm one of the costliest natural disasters in US history, according to a USA Today report. Even with recovery efforts well underway, it will likely take people and businesses in the hardest hit areas months, even years, to rebuild. Flood conditions across southeast Texas and western Louisiana are improving; however, some major and minor routes are still experiencing high waters and closures.

Transportation Mode Updates from Carrier Assessments

Freight activity has resumed in some parts of the affected area. 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.

BULK: Facilities in the affected areas have begun restoring operations. Access to those facilities and the extent of damage may be unknown. Tank cleaning facilities are also reopening, but may continue to experience limited operations.

TRUCKLOAD: Volume freight into the affected areas may continue to experience pickup limitations this week.  Expect out-of-route miles or other charges where operations have resumed as a result of continued flood conditions and obstructions along normal routes.

LESS-THAN-TRUCKLOAD: As the majority of facilities come back online this week, carriers may begin reducing and/or lifting restrictions to allow for pickups going to all points in Texas. The storm created some backlog of freight that still has to deliver, resulting in embargos on expedited shipments to the affected zip codes. Carriers are working to clear up any backlog throughout this week.

Rail: Rail service continue to experience some interruptions.


Rail service on most BNSF subdivisions in the Houston area and throughout southeastern Texas has been restored. All BNSF rail yards and facilities in the region are also open.

  • Longview and Silsbee Subdivisions near the Louisiana border are out of service
  • Direct rail service between Houston and locations in Louisiana, which includes access through Dayton and Beaumont, remains blocked
  • Ongoing challenges involving the primary rail line that provides access to locations southwest of Houston, including Corpus Christi and Brownsville.
  • Major bridge repair work is needed near Sweeny, Texas and will require an extended track outage
  • BNSF is re-routing or diverting as much traffic as possible around affected locations
    BNSF is not servicing customer facilities that have yet to restore operations

BNSF Service Update – Hurricane Harvey


Delays should be expected on all routes for some time while the railroads work to reduce backlog and respect imposed speed restrictions.

  • Rosenberg subdivision reopened permitting cross-border traffic to and from Houston (Kendleton)
  • The Beaumont subdivision remains closed at this time but conditions are improving
  • South and Northbound cross-border embargoes for locations of Houston, Corpus Christi, Victoria, and Rosenberg to and from Laredo have been lifted.

KCS Service Update – Hurricane Harvey


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

III. 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.


Hurricane Harvey will continue to affect national trucking capacity in the coming weeks after almost paralyzing some operations entirely in the initial aftermath of storm. Over the past week, the industry has seen an increase in loads – with high demand for dry vans, reefers, and flatbed – while available capacity has declined. Changes to freight flow, trucks pulled for Harvey relief efforts, and trucks being shifted to Florida to handle resupply and rebuilding efforts in preparation for the next major storm expected to impact the US could tighten capacity further.


A regional shortage of fuel products, including gasoline, diesel, aviation fuel, propane, and home heating oil due to refinery delays and interruption of delivery through pipelines as a result of Harvey will likely drive fuel prices up through the month. The prospect of Hurricane Irma may impact prices as well. Currently, the national average for diesel is $2.683.


National freight rates will likely rise in the coming weeks.  Carriers may ask for a surcharge per load to cover extra expenses related to Harvey and to ensure that equipment is kept moving. Particularly, carriers will adjust pricing to account for delays unloading, road obstructions, traffic, and difficulty finding loads leaving those markets.

Highway Updates

At this time all interstates are open in the Houston area but many other roads remain closed due to flooding. Flooded conditions could continue through the week in the impacted areas. Officials advise drivers who come upon high waters in the roadways to seek an alternate route.