Federal Funding to Help I-4 Truckers Find Place to Rest
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Long-distance truckers will soon find it easier to park their big rigs off Interstate 4 and take a break, thanks to $180 million in federal funding dedicated toward filling a dearth of truck parking spots along the thoroughfare.
“This is great news,” said Alix Miller, president and CEO of the Florida Trucking Association in Tallahassee, Fla. “Truck drivers spend an average of 56 minutes every day looking for a place to park and rest. That’s not only a safety issue, but that’s time lost in freight moving forward.”
The money comes from the U.S. Department of Transportation as part of the 2021 bipartisan infrastructure law. And it will be used to acquire land and build about 920 truck parking spaces along I-4 in Osceola, Orange, Seminole and Lake counties in the coming years.
State DOT officials said the goal is to build at least one new truck stop each in Osceola, Orange and Seminole counties in Florida, and two stops in Volusia County, by 2040.
Construction of the first such facility is scheduled to start in mid-2026 in Seminole County off Interstate 4 and U.S. Highway 17-92 near the St. Johns River in Sanford, Fla.
At an estimated cost of $60 million — which includes the land purchase — the facility will have 132 spaces, and include electric vehicle charging stations, restrooms, a dog-walk area, vending machines and a perimeter sidewalk.
“This is just a start to solving a big need,” said Matthew Richardson, of the Florida DOT, regarding the new facility.
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Currently, there are only 36 truck parking spaces — at two rest stops just north of State Road 434 in Longwood — along the 75-mile stretch of I-4 between Osceola and Volusia counties.
A 2021 Florida DOT study showed that about 750 spaces are needed to meet the growing number of longhaul trucks on I-4 because of population growth, development and more people ordering goods online. By 2040, the demand will escalate to 883 parking spaces.
According to federal regulations, truck drivers are required to stop and rest for 10 continuous hours after driving 11 hours nonstop or being on duty for 14 hours.
“That’s totally non-negotiable. They have to stop,” Miller said about the requirement.
That’s why I-4 motorists will often see semis illegally parked along the on-ramp and off-ramp to the Longwood rest areas at night, creating a dangerous situation, she said.
Truckers also will drive off the interstate to hunt for overnight spots, such as in a large parking lot at a Walmart, Target or Home Depot store willing to accommodate them.
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Currently, up to 20,000 semi-trucks travel on I-4 between Daytona Beach and Tampa every day, according to the latest data from the state DOT. But national data from the organization shows that Central Florida’s I-4 corridor has the greatest scarcity of truck rest areas in the state.
U.S. Rep. Darren Soto (D-Fla.), called the federal funding “wonderful news” in a press release last week.
“If truck drivers find safe parking, they can properly rest, take breaks during unsafe conditions, and prevent issues that further slow our supply chain,” he said in a written statement.
Miller noted that many consumers don’t realize the importance of trucks in the economy, Miller said.
“Anywhere the population is growing, so is the number of trucks,” she said. “And if it shows up at your door, or it’s at a store, it’s probably been on at least four trucks.”
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