A pilot program in virginia will use undeveloped Virginia Department of Transportation properties as "truck safety rest areas" for truck parking.

The first site, along Interstate 66 in Warren County, will begin to provide additional parking for truckers on November 8. The pilot location is an unused paved lot along the eastbound lanes. It was purchased decades ago for future rest area development and will be temporarily opened as a truck-only rest area.

"Truckers are the lifeline of our economy, carrying food, manufactured products, clothes, and everything imaginable and necessary for our daily lives," said Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell. "To ensure they drive safely, truckers need secure places to park and rest. Anyone who has passed our full service rest areas at night or the early morning can see that many are filled to capacity with trucks. This pilot project will look to use undeveloped properties at minimal cost to the Commonwealth."

The pilot period will last 90 days followed by a 60-day evaluation period. The truck rest area will continue operations during the 60-day evaluation period.

This I-66 rest area location is near mile marker four and has a paved lot. The rest area will open on the morning of November 8 and remain available for use 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Electronic message boards will be placed in the area notifying the public.

The Warren County Board of Supervisors approached the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) with concerns about overnight truck parking. This plan should reduce trucks parking at interchanges and at local businesses, according to the announcement from the governor's office. VDOT anticipates the new rest area will also provide trucks with a place to get off the roads during inclement weather.

In preparing the rest area, the ramps will be repaved to reduce rumble strip noise and reinforce pavement strength. Signs and pavement markings will be installed. Portable toilets and trash receptacles will be installed and serviced. There will be no rest area building constructed. No additional lighting is planned at this time for this location.

The Warren County sheriff's office and Virginia State Police have agreed to monitor the I-66 truck rest area.

A similar rest area is currently in use on I-64 in Alleghany County. Pending the results of this pilot, additional truck parking facilities will be considered on or near other interstates.

The American Trucking Associations and the Virginia Trucking Association praised the program.

"We are very appreciative of Gov. McDonnell for continuing to recognize the essential role of America's trucking industry and for his commitment to highway safety on the important issue of safety rest areas," ATA President and CEO Bill Graves said. "ATA encourages other states with similar truck parking shortages to follow Virginia's lead and look for similar opportunities to quickly expand parking at a minimal cost."

ATA and VTA strongly urged McDonnell during his campaign for governor to reopen the 19 safety rest areas and welcome centers shuttered by the previous administration because of funding cuts. McDonnell responded by promising that he would, if elected, reopen the safety rest areas within three months of taking office. On April 14, McDonnell and the VDOT officially reopened the remaining safety rest areas, beating the April 15 deadline McDonnell imposed when he took office in January.