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Ensuring the nation’s truck drivers have access to adequate parking is a priority for Robin Hutcheson, the recently confirmed administrator at the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.
Shortly after the U.S. Department of Transportation unveiled additional guidance for tackling truck parking woes, the FMCSA leader told Transport Topics on Sept. 30 the issue is one the agency aims to resolve.
“I would like us to be removing the obstacles that truckers feel on a day-to-day basis,” Hutcheson said. “By removing those obstacles we might make them the safest drivers on the road and by removing those obstacles we might retain them.”
Women and men operating commercial vehicles have shared with her anecdotes detailing struggles linked to parking. For years, stakeholders have sounded the alarm about insufficient parking for truckers.
“They tell me that they stress about it all day or all night,” she recalled. “They tell me that they are parking sometimes in areas that they know to be not safe. ... If they’re a woman, they tell me that they don’t feel secure. They tell me they need more lighting.”
During a meeting with stakeholders Sept. 30, department officials unveiled a handbook to outline best practices for designing and constructing truck parking facilities. Hutcheson referred to the handbook as a resource primarily for state agencies. “We want them to be equipped with the most effective tools to build and design parking,” she explained.
Her colleagues pointed to provisions in the $1 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, known as the bipartisan infrastructure law, that also respond to truck parking concerns.
“Truck parking is a safety issue — both for truck drivers and all other road users, which is why FHWA has updated our guidance to ensure there is no question about eligibility for truck parking projects in new formula and discretionary grant programs authorized under the bipartisan infrastructure law,” Federal Highway Administration acting Administrator Stephanie Pollack said in a separate statement.
“This new information will help states, localities and other eligible entities identify eligible formula funding sources and apply for discretionary grants to fund truck parking projects that not only support the increased demand for truck deliveries and strengthen our supply chains,” Pollack continued, “but also provide safe truck parking, which is critical to protect the truck drivers we rely on, as well as the traveling public.”
Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg added: “We’re using funds from President [Joe] Biden’s bipartisan infrastructure law to help address truck parking shortages, and we’re working with state and industry leaders to develop more parking that will improve safety and quality of life for our nation’s truck drivers.”
American Trucking Associations touted USDOT’s latest efforts on parking, such as new grants meant to expand access in Florida and Tennessee.
We're extremely grateful to @SecretaryPete and @USDOT for delivering on their intention to expand #truckparking capacity across the country. This issue is imperative for highway safety, supply chain efficiency, driver wellbeing, and environmental protection.— American Trucking (@TRUCKINGdotORG) September 29, 2022
“We thank Secretary Buttigieg and the administration for their ongoing commitment to America’s professional truck drivers,” ATA President Chris Spear said Sept. 29. “The secretary has stated how important the issue of truck parking is to him and his department, and we are extremely grateful that he is delivering on that intention.”
The Week Ahead (all times Eastern)
Oct. 6, 4 p.m.: The American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research hosts a panel on social security.
A federal government shutdown was averted Sept. 30 after the U.S. House, by a vote of 230-201, cleared a short-term government funding measure. Biden’s enactment of the bill guaranteed federal agencies, such as USDOT, remain operable through Dec. 16.
The White House, in a statement that accompanied the bill’s enactment, recognized congressional leaders: “Thank you to Sens. [Chuck] Schumer, [Mitch] McConnell, [Patrick] Leahy, and [Richard] Shelby, Speaker [Nancy] Pelosi and Rep. [Rosa] DeLauro, and many others for their leadership.”
Tucked into the short-term continuing resolution is aid for Ukraine, emergency funds for post-hurricane recovery efforts and funding for low-income housing programs.
The recent hurricanes in the Caribbean and the southeast U.S. are prompting a national conversation about infrastructure resilience.
Asked whether policy directives related to severe-weather resilience should be enhanced, North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper (D) told NBC News over the weekend, “North Carolina has had a front row seat when it comes to the effects of climate change, and we are making sure that we become a clean energy safe haven and that we are paying attention to resiliency. We know that we’re going to be working on updating our grid, making sure that we are more resilient into the future.”
Cooper’s viewpoint has been echoed by his peers in the political class. The concept of rebuilding infrastructure capable of withstanding the impact of severe weather events has been endorsed by freight stakeholders. The Biden administration has made climate change a central theme. Secretary Buttigieg, for instance, has promoted a need for severe-weather resilience. The secretary championed related policy provisions in the $1 trillion infrastructure law.
“We are faced with a moment that is calling on us to address some of the issues that so many of our communities, especially in the industrial Midwest, have faced,” Buttigieg said last month in Ohio, pointing to “new construction materials that help in that fight against climate change.”
The next chapter in the X Files.
Robot cars enter the lexicon.
“The real question is not whether AVs [autonomous vehicles] are equitable, but are AVs more equitable than existing transportation? If the answer to that question is ‘yes,’ that’s good. That’s progress,” says @HilaryCainDC of @autosinnovate https://t.co/GUahDgPmxk— Dan Vock (@danvock) September 27, 2022
The Last Word
From her first day at DOT, Robin Hutcheson has been a great colleague and a thought leader within the department, and so we couldn’t be happier to have her confirmed in this new role.
Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg on Sept. 26
We publish Mondays when Congress is in session and add updates throughout the week. We also are publishing weekly during the 2022 midterm elections. See previous installments of Capitol Agenda here. Email firstname.lastname@example.org with tips. Follow us @eugenemulero and @transporttopics.
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