Arkansas Adds 84 Truck Parking Spots on I-40
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Amid the constant roar of Interstate 40 traffic, Arkansas state leaders celebrated opening a long-awaited commercial truck parking lot in West Memphis, adding 84 much-needed spaces.
“Let’s cut a ribbon and let’s let the trucks start rolling in,” Lorie Tudor, director of the Arkansas Department of Transportation, recently told Arkansas Trucking Association executives, state Sen. Reginald Murdock (D), state Highway Commission Chairman Alec Farmer and others gathered under a white tent.
Murdock, who worked in the past for ARDOT, thanked everyone for their contributions to the project’s opening. “What makes dreams come together is teamwork, and this is what you see the result of here today.”
ATA President Shannon Newton, granted the honor of commanding scissors at the event, told everyone the ceremony marked a decade of work from the Arkansas trucking industry.
The parking lot expansion west of mile marker 275 was paid for with a grant from the Arkansas Commercial Trucking Safety and Education Program approved by the state Legislature during the 89th General Assembly in 2013.
“While a parking lot may not seem like an exciting enhancement to our state’s highway system, this is critical infrastructure not only for our industry but also for our Arkansas communities that rely on these trucks,” Newton noted.
Pointing to the concrete facility that took $6 million to transform it from a tourist information center (rebuilt elsewhere), she said she wants people to realize “this is their break room” for the truck drivers who are “the backbone of our economy and, during long hours and challenging conditions, ensure the timely delivery of goods.”
There are 3.5 million truck drivers in the US and only 313,000 parking spaces.
Arkansas Trucking Association President, and Good Roads Board Member, Shannon Newton, dedicated this week an ARDOT-owned 84 place commercial truck park in West Memphis to help manage the cost of pr ... pic.twitter.com/TD8PhN0Ohb — AR Good Roads (@ARGoodRoads) June 1, 2023
Farmer called attention to the 7 acres of concrete where he stood, and described how it will provide a safe resting area that also supports the U.S. supply chain.
“Over 40,000 vehicles pass this site every day, and over 50%, and sometimes close to 60%, are commercial trucks,” he added.
The highest truck volumes in Arkansas are along the I-40, I-30 and I-55 freight corridors, the 494-page Arkansas State Freight Plan 2022 noted. It identified truck parking and investing in truck parking notifications systems to improve the use of existing facilities as key intermodal freight needs.
One of ARDOT’s goals is to support development of safe and secure truck parking facilities, Tudor explained, adding “I can tell you how proud I am of this moment when we’re one step closer to that goal.”
ARDOT’s latest truck parking survey revealed 20 of the state’s 26 public truck parking locations were over capacity as were 133 of the 283 private parking locations.
Tudor said the West Memphis truck parking site will have a second phase to add restrooms and build a police substation, starting by the end of June, in a $1 million project.
“To have that presence of Arkansas Highway Police here will add security and safety to our truckers,” Tudor said. “I cannot adequately express how important this parking expansion is here on Interstate 40 or how much it is needed for our truckers as they travel through Arkansas.”
I-40 is ranked as the highest truck volume corridor in Arkansas since it connects the state to a regional freight hub in Memphis, Tenn. Trucks traveling along the route have “relatively high shipment values per truck,” according to ARDOT.
In 2019, trucks transported almost 360 million tons of freight worth more than $770 billion on Arkansas’ roadways. By 2050, ARDOT projects those numbers to mushroom to 600 million tons worth over $1.5 trillion.
ARDOT’s wish list identified the possible creation of a commercial truck parking facility on I-30 as important to improving roadway and driver safety while reducing unauthorized parking. The project, if funded, had a $25 million estimated price tag to create 50 parking spaces. The site would be in Rockport (at Exit 99 and U.S Highway 270), about 40 miles southwest from Little Rock.
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