Lawmaker Revisits Truck Parking Concerns at US House Hearing
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A measure designed to improve access to truck parking around the country is expected to come up for consideration later this year when congressional policymakers debate comprehensive transportation legislation.
Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.), chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure panel, on Feb. 10 affirmed a commitment to examine provisions that would enhance parking nationwide for commercial drivers. DeFazio acknowledged concerns related to truck parking, and pledged to revisit the policy when the panel takes a deep dive into highway legislation in the spring. As he put it, “We would meaningfully address that issue.”
The chairman shared his sentiment about truck parking during consideration of a COVID-19 aid package, during which Rep. Mike Bost (R-Ill.) withdrew an amendment about parking options for truckers. Bost’s proposal would have authorized $125 million during fiscal 2021 for truck parking programs, with incremental increases through fiscal 2025. The funding would have assisted agencies developing facilities and programs meant to expand parking options for truckers.
“The lack of truck parking spaces is a well-known problem,” Bost explained at the Feb. 10 hearing. “Oftentimes, drivers are unable to find safe places to park their vehicles. Many use the sides of the roads or ramps [for] parking. If you just drive down the interstate, you see that all the time. Others are parking in areas that are jeopardizing their personal safety.”
Bost stressed the importance of the issue by pointing out the essential role truckers are playing during the pandemic. “Over the past year, truck drivers have been working around the clock,” he said. “They’ve been driving day and night to make sure food and supplies make it to our grocery stores’ shelves.”
He added that the topic should enjoy bipartisan support. “Truck parking is not a Republican issue. It’s not a Democrat issue. The safety of our nation’s truckers should be a concern to all of us. Because when [truckers] have safe places to park, they will also make our roads safer for other drivers and help ensure that they can deliver the goods to the stores and the store shelves.”
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Last year, Bost co-sponsored the Truck Parking Safety Improvement Act, which would have dedicated funding from existing U.S. Department of Transportation funds to further set up parking along the highway system. Truck drivers are mandated to rest at certain intervals during their shifts, reinforcing the need to access parking.
“Right now, there is a lack of places for truck drivers to safely stop, forcing them to pull over to the side of the road, or continue driving, both of which are risky,” Rep. Angie Craig (D-Minn.), a co-sponsor, said last year. She is a member of the Energy and Commerce Committee. “That’s why I am proud to be working [with] my colleague, Rep. Mike Bost from Illinois, to increase truck parking spaces, increasing safety for folks transporting goods.”
Access to parking for truck drivers is also an issue on the Federal Highway Administration’s radar. Through the National Coalition on Truck Parking, the agency and stakeholders pursue initiatives on capacity, technology and data, and funding and regulations. In explaining the issue, FHWA stated, “Commercial truck drivers need access to safe, secure, and accessible truck parking. With the projected growth of truck traffic, the demand for truck parking will continue to outpace the supply of public and private parking facilities and will only exacerbate the truck parking problems experienced in many regions.”
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