A new truck parking trust fund could pay for more parking spaces, said the association, which represents the truckstop and travel plaza industry. NATSO also proposed closing unneeded rest areas so money could be reallocated to areas where more parking is needed. Finally, the trade association urged government to remove barriers to private sector development.
Many in the trucking industry want to see states provide more rest area parking, but NATSO believes that truck parking problems can best be solved by the private sector -- its members.
"With about a third of bridges and over one-third of metropolitan area roads in poor or mediocre condition, it is no wonder that most states cannot afford to construct truck terminals at rest areas," said the NATSO release.
"NATSO believes that, in the vast majority of cases, private sector truckstops respond to market forces, and that means they build enough parking to accommodate their customers," said Scot Imus, Vice President of NATSO Government Affairs.
Imus also blamed trucking's current payment system for part of the problem. "There are things the trucking industry can do, such as paying drivers by the hour, not by the mile," he said. "Economic pressures force some drivers to bypass sufficient parking even if that means ending the day in a place without parking."
The Federal Highway Administration is currently studying parking options, and will report its findings to Congress next year.
The taxes currently collected from the trucking industry, while substantial, do not even pay for the damage inflicted on roads, let alone the cost of increased rest area truck parking, NATSO said.
"Our nation's infrastructure is built with a 'user pays' system," Imus explained. "So it makes sense that rest area truck parking would be funded by the users of that parking. It is irresponsible to spend highway trust fund dollars for a service that subsidizes the for-profit commercial trucking industry."
NATSO proposed that a "truck parking trust fund" could be created within the framework of the International Registration Plan (IRP). Under the existing IRP, carriers pay a fee in a single base state or province and declares all jurisdictions in which they will drive, plus the actual or estimated miles driven in each jurisdiction. The registration fee is apportioned among the declared IRP jurisdictions based on miles traveled in those states. NATSO is proposing an additional $300 fee per truck to be added to the IRP for the new trust fund.
States would then be required to use truck parking trust fund dollars on projects that would enhance truck parking availability, including adding rest area spaces, providing better parking information to drivers, or stimulating private sector parking growth.
NATSO also suggested that a state should consider closing rest areas that are near interchanges with plentiful private sector parking, so it can reallocate more money to areas where additional parking is needed. In those places where a rest area is closed, private sector interchange businesses could provide services formerly offered by the rest area.
Finally, NATSO urged that state transportation departments should remove cost-prohibitive road improvement requirements on developers attempting to open new parking facilities.
"It is not uncommon for state transportation departments to require private developers to make costly road improvements before constructing a new truckstop," Imus said. "In fact, states often place this burden on the developers even though the road improvements are part of the state's multi-year transportation plan."