Truck Parking a Priority for Administration, Buttigieg Says
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Improving access to parking for the country’s truck drivers remains a priority for the Biden administration, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said recently.
Pressed on the Department of Transportation’s focus on the matter, the secretary insisted his staff is dedicated to working with other agencies to expand parking facilities.
“I completely agree with the importance of this issue,” the secretary told senators during a review on the White House’s fiscal 2024 budget request. “When you talk with truck drivers it’s one of the first things that they’ll raise. And it’s not just a matter of convenience. It’s really a matter of safety.
“It means that as a driver is on their route, they see that they’re getting close to the limit of their hours of service. They’re faced with a choice: either to stop short and lose income, if there’s even a space near them. Or to park in a place that could be unsafe,” Buttigieg explained, adding, “In terms of a dedicated program we’d welcome a dialogue on that.”
Entrance to a truck parking facility. (Ohio Department of Transportation)
The secretary also shared with the subcommittee the department had recently awarded grants specific to truck parking programs in Florida and Tennessee.
At the budget hearing, Sen. John Boozman (R-Ark.), a member of the transportation appropriations subcommittee, sought from the secretary an action plan on the issue. Of interest would be establishing a competitive grant program for truck parking projects that would equip DOT and state agencies with requisite resources.
As the senator put it, “I’m really interested in the Department of Transportation’s long-term plan to build our truck parking capacity. We’ve heard repeatedly from representatives of the trucking industry the nationwide shortage of truck parking capacity is a key driver of supply chain inefficiency.”
Earlier this year, House lawmakers introduced legislation targeting the industry’s truck parking concerns. The Safer Highways and Increased Performance for Interstate Trucking (SHIP IT) Act would approve nearly $800 million through fiscal 2026 for parking projects connected to commercial vehicle operations. According to the text of the bill, “It is the sense of Congress that it should be a national priority to address the shortage of parking for commercial motor vehicles on the federal-aid highway system to improve highway safety.”
Its sponsors, Reps. Dusty Johnson (R-S.D.) and Jim Costa (D-Calif.), view the matter primarily through a supply chain lens.
“Americans experienced a slew of freight disruptions during and after the COVID-19 pandemic,” Johnson said in January. “Last year, we addressed ocean shipping reform, and it’s clear that updates are needed for other parts of the supply chain.”
Lawmakers sought action on the parking matter during the previous session of Congress. However, the chambers did not vote on a bill introduced in December by Sens. Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.) and Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.). The Truck Parking Safety Improvement Act would have approved funding to increase capacity as well as expand parking areas.
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The Senate bill followed the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee’s approval of a similar bill sponsored by Rep. Mike Bost (R-Ill.). During the House panel’s consideration, Bost said: “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.”
In 2022, the American Transportation Research Institute ranked inadequate access to parking third on its “Critical Issues in the Trucking Industry.”