Contrary to popular belief, many states are concerned about a lack of truck parking, and are working to do something about it.
In early October, American Trucking Associations President Bill Canary wrote to all 50 state Departments of Motor Vehicles, letting them know about a U.S. Department of Transportation opinion that they could use certain federal funds to provide more parking spaces for trucks.
The responses showed that many states are working on the problem.
- Louisiana is implementing a Rest Area Asset Management Plan, which will provide for new rest areas, upgrades for existing rest areas, and closure of redundant facilities. As part of the upgrade, the state is developing an information system that will help truckers find places to park. In addition, the local Federal Highway Administration office in cooperation with the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development plans to look at areas where an FHWA report indicated a shortage of truck parking spaces by developing "participating stakeholder groups" to discuss solutions. These groups will include the Louisiana Motor Transport Assn., the truckstop group NATSO, the Louisiana Rest Area Committee and other interested parties.
- Maine's Office of Freight Transportation has hired a consultant who is doing a field survey to determine the state's truck parking space needs. The study will create a list of priority locations for the expansion or construction of truck parking areas. It also will explore options for public/private partnerships.
- Wisconsin has committed to improving weigh stations to offer additional truck parking spaces, and some added truck parking is included in scheduled improvements to existing rest areas.
- Florida has been increasing the number of truck parking spaces at its rest areas and turnpike service plazas, and has been building "comfort stations" specifically designed for truck drivers. These will be a part of new weigh-in-motion facilities being built in Florida. Currently trucker comfort stations are open on the north and southbound sides of I-75 in White Springs, on both sides of I-95 near the Georgia border, on both sides of I-95 approximately 30 miles north of Daytona Beach, and on both sides of I-10 near Sneads. More are under construction on I-10 near Ellaville and on I-75 at Punta Gorda. In addition, Florida plans to build four more pairs of trucker comfort stations within the next six years.
- Maryland notes that it has already made a number of park-and-ride lots, rest areas, and weigh and inspection stations available for overnight truck parking, and have improved signage on major truck routes to direct truckers to parking areas.
- Michigan tate officials sent a letter to the Michigan Trucking Assn. membership encouraging truckers to use the state's weigh stations for truck parking.
- This year, the New York State DOT totally reconstructed three rest areas on I-87 north of Albany, two of which had previously been closed, bringing the number of truck spaces from seven to 72.
- Iowa allows truck drivers to use the parking facilities at its weigh stations, and will not sell closed weigh station or rest area locations until it is convinced there is not a need for additional truck parking in the area. The state is upgrading existing rest areas, including expanded parking for commercial trucks, and is building a new rest area on I-35 north of Des Moines with a large number of truck parking spaces.
- Montana, although it says it really has no truck parking shortage, is nevertheless encouraging truckers to park at closed weigh stations and portable weighing sites when they're not being used. It also allows truck parking at abandoned rest areas, is putting vault toilets on non-rest-area parking locations such as interstate pullouts and abandoned weigh scales, and is upgrading more rest areas to "year-round" status.
- Kentucky has added 50 to 70 spaces for truck parking at seven of its inspection facilities, and has scheduled the construction of four more such facilities that will double that amount. However, officials note that most of the facilities available for expanded parking are only about half full and is encouraging truckers to use these "rest havens."