For the past four weeks, I decided to do an experiment. I dubbed it “The Garden State Express”. The Garden State Express was a route that I started working on due to there being a lot of lightweight, high-cube volume freight. I wanted to do this route because it would fully exploit the versatility of our 2022 Freightliner Cascadia with the Hendrickson OPTIMAAX liftable pusher axle assembly. This route also will benefit the use of the Hendrickson trailer under beam lift axle kit on our trailer, as well. Another benefit of having liftable axles, when running in the geographical territory where the Garden State Express route terminates, is the abundance of toll roads that charge by the axle.

The Garden State Express route, as I called it, goes from Laredo, Texas to Swedesboro, New Jersey, then a short hop down to Newark, Delaware to reload, and then finally back to Laredo, Texas. The route’s length is 3,830 miles round trip. The route I use is I-35 North from Laredo to San Antonio, Texas, I-10 from San Antonio to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, I-12 to Slidell, LA, I-10 to Mobile, Alabama, I-65 to Montgomery, AL, I-85 to Atlanta, Georgia, I-285 to bypass Atlanta, I-85 to Petersburg, Virginia, I-95 to the Washington Beltway I-495. I bypass Baltimore, Maryland by taking US 50 across the William Preston Memorial Bridge to get to Eastern Shore, Maryland, and connect with US 301 and then with US 13 to I-295 across the Delaware Memorial Bridge to Swedesboro, NJ. 

My GPS disagrees with a lot of this route. It wants me to be over on the I-40 & I-81 corridor. It is approximately 20 miles shorter the way the GPS wants to go. However, my slightly longer route is much shorter regarding the time taken for me to complete the trip.  

Initially, I thought that this route would only take advantage of the opportunity to lift a truck axle, a trailer axle, or possibly both, on the return trip from Delaware, including the empty miles from Swedesboro to Newark. To my surprise, all the freight for a month, for both directions of this route, came in at weights between 5,000 lbs. and 15,000 lbs. After all was said and done, the entire 4-week experiment yielded operating conditions that allowed me to complete the entire session with only three axles on the ground. As a side note, I had to laugh because the brake rotors on my lift axle of the Cascadia now have a coat of light rust from not being used at all during the 4 week time period. 

So, now I’m sure all of you are wanting to know what the fuel mileage results were from this demonstration. But first, let’s go into some more details. To be able to cover 3,830 miles and stay on the same 7-day schedule, it required me to use many of the benefits I discovered from an ongoing project I called 70+/10. For those of you not familiar with this project, the goal was to obtain double-digit fuel economy while traveling at speeds up to 75 mph where safe, legal, and applicable. During the Garden State Express endeavor, I needed to take advantage of being able to run at speeds as high as the posted speed limit in Texas of 75 mph, and the speed limit in each of the other states on my route. The nice thing about this route is that on most occasions after the second day, I was able to have enough cushion built into my time to be able to limit my top speed to 65 mph or less. 

So here are the results: My 30-day average fuel mileage for the Garden State Express project came in at 11.72 mpg. The best daily number is 12.42 mpg and the worst fill-up came in at 10.97 mpg. As many of you know, catching Washington DC at rush hour never does anyone any favors, in regard to fuel mileage. I managed to catch that traffic in Washington DC five times during my 4 weeks going to and coming from New Jersey. Other pinch points were, of course, Atlanta, Baton Rouge, Houston, and a couple of times even San Antonio. 

I have listed all the fill-ups for this 4-week time period for your viewing pleasure. 

I feel that this demonstration clearly shows the benefits of lifting axles off the ground when they are not needed to support the load being transported. Having a 6x2 liftable axle assembly is not a new idea, as it is just a line haul operation taking a page out of the heavy haul trucking segment’s playbook. 
In two weeks, after the upcoming Mid America Trucking Show in Louisville, Kentucky, I’m going to try a different route to demonstrate the benefits afforded to me by our 2022 Freightliner Cascadia. The specs for this truck are easily located right here. Hint: I may call this route, The Brick Yard Run. 

   *Average Cruise Setting

Watch an update here: https://www.teamrunsmart.com/videos/truck-smart/update-on-the-garden-state-express-run

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Henry Albert

Henry Albert is the owner of Albert Transport, Inc., based in Statesville, NC. Before participating in the "Slice of Life" program, Albert drove a 2001 Freightliner Century Class S/Tâ„¢, and will use his Cascadia for general freight and a dry van trailer. Albert, who has been a trucker since 1983, was recognized by Overdrive as its 2007 Trucker of the Year.

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