Rebuilding Efforts Fuel Flatbed Demand

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The immediate impacts from Harvey and Irma first showed up in van freight, then reefers. Now it’s looking like flatbed’s turn.

Load counts are up on DAT load boards, with more flatbed freight shipping to support the rebuilding and recovery efforts in areas affected by the storms. The flatbed traffic from Houston and along the Gulf Coast that stalled after the hurricane is also getting back to normal.

Rates below include fuel surcharges and are based on real transactions between carriers and brokers.


Baltimore rates rose sharply after Irma, likely due to ocean cargo that was diverted from Miami and Savannah. The lane from Baltimore to Charlotte jumped up 60¢ last week to $2.22/mile, but volumes are trending back down now. Rates are dropping on a handful of lanes heading INTO Baltimore, however.

Las Vegas is a construction hub, and flatbed trended down immediately after Hurricane Harvey. It’s bounced back, since construction material from Houston is moving again, and that’s helped boost rates on the lane from Las Vegas to Los Angeles, which hit $3.52/mile on average last week.

Volumes and rates have been climbing out of Rock Island, IL, which ships mostly on regional Midwest lanes.

Flatbed freight out of Cleveland, on the other hand, ships inter-regionally, and rates rose 16% over the past month, with high volumes on the lane to Houston.

In Texas:

  • Dallas outbound rates have been kept in check because of the high number of inbound loads, but…
  • Fort Worth rates rose 15% last month
  • Houston rates haven’t moved much, even though volumes have come back on nearly every major lane – could be something to watch going forward


Flatbed rates have been down in port cities that were affected by Irma: Tampa, Jacksonville and Savannah.

Tampa to Atlanta remains the weakest of the high-volume flatbed lanes, since inbound load counts from Atlanta are still well above normal. That leaves a lot of trucks in Tampa, looking for a load out, so the outbound rate has stayed low, at an average of $1.21/mile.

Rates slipped the most on these lanes last week, but are still higher than usual:

  • Cleveland to Harrisburg, PA, was down 67¢ but still averaged $3.25/mile
  • Cleveland to Grand Rapids also dropped sharply, but still averaged $2.99/mile
  • As mentioned earlier, outbound rates and volumes were very high in Baltimore, so the inbound lanes fell – like Atlanta to Baltimore, which lost 47¢ last week to $2.68/mile

Find loads, trucks and lane-by-lane rate information in DAT load boards, including rates from DAT RateView.

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