All That's Trucking

Turning an Eyesore into Truck Parking

March 23, 2015

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In many areas, truckers are short of places to park at night. Photo by Jim Park
In many areas, truckers are short of places to park at night. Photo by Jim Park

It's always encouraging when someone in the mainstream media "gets" trucking problems.

Take the shortage of truck parking. Dennis Wyatt, executive editor of the Manteca Bulletin, Manteca, California, wrote a column this week, "Enhancing Truck Safety & Fighting State Blight," urging officials to convert an ill-conceived, unused eyesore of a commuter parking lot into much-needed truck parking.

The park-n-ride commuter lot was put in place 15 years ago when Highway 99 was widened to six lanes between Manteca and Ripon. "The commute lot in the middle of nowhere was the brainchild of central planners in Sacramento," he writes. "There was no push from local government or even commuters for the parking lot. The state simply deemed it necessary and built it."

It was barely used and quickly became a haven for vandals, thieves and mischief-makers. Today it's an empty, barricaded lot.

Wyatt continues:

"Seventy-percent of the truck drivers surveyed along Interstate 5 in the spring of 2012 said they tried to stop at a truck stop along the freeway but found they were full. University of California at Berkeley researchers also found more than half of all truckers said that they tried to find spaces at truck stops every other day to comply with federal safety laws regarding length of time on the road but were unable to find open spots....

"Trucks and the men and women that drive them are vital to our economy. Trucks carried some 9.7 billion tons of goods in 2013. That represented 81 percent of that year’s $682 billion of freight business. The slogan truckers like repeating — “if you bought it a truck brought it” — is true. At some point virtually every consumer good required a truck to get it to a store. Trucks are also as vital in the delivery of rare materials and parts in the manufacturing process.

"We need to start acting that truckers matter. The safety requirements made a bad situation worse when it came to parking trucks.

Impressed, I emailed Wyatt and asked him how he came to learn of the dire truck parking situation.

He pointed out that the Manteca-Lathrop-Stockton area has well over dozen terminals ranging from less than truckload to full truckload and "dozens upon dozens" of independent owner-operators.

"Both Highway 99 and Interstate 5 pass through the area, plus this is a major distribution and logistics areas for the Bay Area and Sacramento," he told me. "It's hard not to know truckers are being squeezed. Add to that the political solution to make money for truck parking eligible for federal transportation funding but making it compete against deteriorating infrastructure needs, and there is no way it is being addressed....

"Plus I travel once a year to Death Valley returning always at night on Highway 99 from Bakersfield to Manteca and have seen the number of trucks at night parked on ramps and freeway shoulders skyrocket since the federal driving break rules were changed. And every truckstop and state run rest area you will pass are overflowing."

Wyatt ends his column with this plea: "Given the amount of trucks that use Highway 99, the use of the state-created blight at Austin Road as parking for truckers dealing with federally imposed safety driving time limits makes sense. It can easily be signed for truckers along Highway 99. Granted, it would be a drop in the bucket for the overall need but it would be a start."

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Author Bio

Deborah Lockridge

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All That's Trucking blog is just that – the editor's take on anything and everything related to trucking, with the help of guest posts from other HDT editors. Author Deborah Lockridge's career as an award-winning trucking journalist started in 1990.


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