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The Latest on Truck Parking
During a visit to South Dakota, kicking off National Driver Appreciation Week, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg met with truckers and addressed their continued call for improved truck parking. The visit was intended to announce more than $80 million in funding to improve access to truck parking and advance highway safety nationwide.
The funding is part of President Joe Biden’s bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), and will help expand access to truck parking, invest in critical technology, improve safety in work zones, rural areas, and high crash corridors, and more. Grant recipients will include states, local governments, non-profit organizations, and academic institutions across the country.
According to the announcement, these high-priority grants will include a 65% increase in funding for truck parking projects over last year and will aid in providing further steps to improve highway safety.
Buttigieg was joined by trucking industry leaders, drivers, and the media when he visited an Interstate 90 rest area near Salem, South Dakota, where officials and drivers continued to voice their concerns over truck parking. The Truck Parking Safety Improvement Act, which would grant funds to expand commercial truck parking capacity across the United States, was reintroduced earlier this year, and if signed into law, would authorize $755 million in competitive grant funding to increase truck parking capacity.
Key Funded Projects
This funding is intended to expand access to truck parking by helping truckers locate available rest area truck parking spaces via real-time dynamic messaging signs along highways in Delaware, Kentucky, and Indiana. Plus, additional research regarding automated, location-based driver alerts using their electronic logging devices (ELDs) that can inform drivers of upcoming work zones.
Other projects include enhancing electronic screening technologies such as automated license plate readers, USDOT number readers, tire monitoring systems, and hazardous materials placard readers, to detect potential vehicle violations. Outreach and education will also be provided in order to combat human trafficking, which will encourage truck drivers to play a key role in this initiative given that they spend so much of their time and attention on the road.
Truck Parking Projects
Some of the intended of truck parking projects will include:
- I-4 Between Tampa and Orlando, Florida: $15 million INFRA (Infrastructure for Rebuilding America) grant for a new truck parking facility with approximately 120 spaces, electric charging stations, and pedestrian infrastructure to access nearby amenities.
- Memphis, Tennessee: $22 million INFRA grant that adds 125 truck parking spaces at a spot along I-40. The project will also upgrade adjacent bridge structures.
- Caldwell County, Texas: $22.9 million RAISE (Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity) grant to design and construct a truck parking plaza that improves safety and convenience for truck drivers. The plaza will include short- and long-term parking spaces with lighting, fencing, restroom and shower facilities, plus 24-hour monitored security.
- Caldwell Parish, Louisiana: $10.5 million RAISE grant to buy land and build a truck parking facility near the port and a highway. It will have space for 50 commercial trucks, 100 cars, and electric vehicle charging stations designed to provide auxiliary power units to power a truck cab’s heating and cooling, without having to run the engine while also recharging trucks.
In a letter to Buttigieg, on behalf of the trucking industry, the ATA stated that it is critical for the DOT (Department of Transportation) to coordinate with the White House, state departments of transportation, Congress, and other stakeholders in order to encourage appropriate actions to address the truck parking shortage. The letter also referenced the 2019 Jason’s Law Report that detailed how 98% of truck drivers regularly have trouble finding safe parking. That number has since increased from the 75% which was originally reported in their 2015 report.
John Elliott, Load One CEO and recent past chairman of TCA (Truckload Carriers Association) has been a staunch proponent of safe truck parking for years. He says “It makes my blood boil when I look at the number of trucks parked on exit ramps. They don’t want to be there; they just don’t have anywhere to park. It’s a last resort, and it’s not safe. It’s not safe for them, and it’s not safe for the motoring public.”