Truck Parking, Freight Policies Included in House Highway Bill

Parked trucks by Peggy Smith/Transport Topics

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A multiyear highway policy bill recently approved in the U.S. House of Representatives would fund a comprehensive truck parking initiative, and pave the way for the adoption of other freight-centric programs.

Responding to industry concerns about a lack of available parking for truck drivers, the legislation would seek to expand facilities for truck drivers nationwide via a $1 billion grants program.

Specifically, the measure would require the secretary of transportation to provide $250 million for each fiscal year, starting 2023 through 2026, for truck parking programs around the country. An agency that receives a grant would have to build safe rest areas with parking for commercial motor vehicles. The transportation secretary would be required to review the grants, and routinely report to Congress with updates about the program.



Invest Act by Transport Topics

House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) argued the provision would help address concerns regarding insufficient parking facilities for truckers.

“The House took a bold and badly needed step to build for the future, tackle the existential threat of climate change by modernizing our transportation systems to cut carbon pollution, and improve the lives of hundreds of millions of people,” he said. “I will waste no time getting to work with the Senate to deliver a transformational infrastructure package to the president’s desk.”

Separate from the parking grants, the bill would require the leadership at the U.S. Department of Transportation to further research side underride guards for commercial vehicles, as well as evaluate recruitment practices targeting commercial drivers. The bill would raise the minimum amount of insurance required for commercial motor vehicles from $750,000 to $2 million and it would require automatic emergency braking systems to be installed in heavy-duty commercial motor vehicles.

Additionally, the bill would approve $1.5 billion from fiscal 2023 through 2026 for safety operations and programs at the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, and it would establish a truck leasing task force meant to examine leasing agreements.

The trucking policies were among several freight-centric proposals approved in the $715 billion legislation titled New Vision for the Environment and Surface Transportation (INVEST) in America Act, which included wastewater infrastructure proposals. The chamber passed the five-year bill on July 1 by a vote of 221 to 201.

Norton

“The bill is an unprecedented investment in our infrastructure, providing a once-in-a-generation 54% increase in funding over the current level,” said Highways and Transit Subcommittee Chairwoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.). “It will help ensure that the future of transportation is greener, more equitable, more inclusive and safer. Thank you to [Chairman] DeFazio for your leadership on the bill and for including many provisions that will benefit the residents of the nation’s capital.”

The Senate has yet to schedule consideration of its comprehensive legislative version. The authorization of federal highway policy programs expires Sept. 30.

Several freight stakeholders touted the bill’s approval in the House, while calling for action in the Senate.

“By passing the INVEST in America Act, the House has taken a significant step toward enacting the kind of comprehensive infrastructure package our nation needs. The investments in this bill will enable the country to grow, not just economically, but they will improve safety and the environment,” said American Trucking Associations CEO Chris Spear.

“We congratulate Chairman DeFazio and the House for their leadership in achieving this important step in the legislative process. We encourage the Senate to advance companion legislation this summer, and ATA will support these critical investments while working to improve upon it throughout the legislative process,” Spear added.

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