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September 21, 2022 2:32 PM, EDT

Senators Promote Truck Parking Access

Truck parkingTrucks parked at a rest stop. (John Sommers II for Transport Topics)

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Two members of the Senate committee on highway policy raised concerns about inadequate parking for the nation’s truckers during a recent hearing about supply chain connectivity.

Republican Sens. John Boozman of Arkansas and Cynthia Lummis of Wyoming recently pressed President Joe Biden’s nominee to lead the Federal Highway Administration on the commercial parking issue. For years, transportation policymakers and industry stakeholders have sounded the alarm about insufficient access to parking spaces for the women and men operating commercial vehicles.



“I’m told that it is not uncommon at all for truck drivers, literally, to drive around two to three hours looking for a parking space. In the sense that, you know, they’re getting dinged if they don’t find it. And it’s that big of an issue,” Boozman told Shailen Bhatt on Sept. 14. Bhatt is nominated to lead FHWA. A vote before the Environment and Public Works Committee on his nomination has not been scheduled.

Sen. Cynthia Lummis

Lummis

“We’ve studied this thing with this and that. But it is low-hanging fruit. It’s something that we really could make, I think, a huge difference for the supply chain,” Boozman continued. Lummis pointed to the needs of the trucking workforce, which travels in high volumes along most freight corridors. “The truck traffic on Interstate 80 through Wyoming is phenomenal,” she observed.

“You’ll drive for miles and see no passenger vehicles. It’s just truck after truck after truck. It is truly a ribbon of highway uniting east and west for commercial trucking purposes,” she told Bhatt. “The lack of truck parking is a major concern.” The nominee said he acknowledged the senators’ concerns, while pledging to adopt an all-of-the-above approach to facilitate freight mobility and improve highway safety.

On the House side, the transportation policy committee easily approved legislation that aims to enhance access for truck parking nationwide. The Truck Parking Safety Improvement Act, sponsored by Rep. Mike Bost (R-Ill.), would provide transportation agencies funding for building or expanding parking areas for commercial motor vehicles. Promoting safety is a key provision of the legislation.

“I’ve championed the need for expanded truck parking for a long time because it impacts the safety of everyone on the road,” Bost, a member of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, said in a statement in July.

Bost

Bost

The bill, which awaits consideration in the House chamber, would incrementally provide agencies nearly $800 million through fiscal 2026 to “provide parking for commercial motor vehicles and improve the safety of commercial motor vehicle operators.” Additionally, the secretary of transportation would be tasked with prioritizing agencies that “demonstrate a shortage of commercial motor vehicle parking capacity in the corridor in which the project is located.”

“This bill will help make our roads and interstates safer by ensuring that truckers no longer have to risk pushing themselves too far to make it a few extra miles to the next rest stop,” the congressman added.

In the American Transportation Research Institute’s “Critical Issues in the Trucking Industry,” truck parking concerns ranked fifth in 2021. ATRI offers an annual chronicle of industry concerns.

American Trucking Associations is among the stakeholders championing the House panel’s approval of the truck parking bill.

“The lack of safe and accessible truck parking is an issue that causes serious concern for our industry,” said ATA President Chris Spear. “Without it, drivers waste hours looking for secure places to park for an hour or for the night, hurting their ability to rest and adding undo stress to their days. Moving this legislation forward is a tremendous step toward addressing what has been a significant challenge to our industry’s ability to safely and efficiently move the nation’s goods.”

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