US House Highway Bill Includes $1 Billion in Truck Parking Grants
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WASHINGTON — Funding to expand parking facilities for truck drivers around the country is included in comprehensive highway policy legislation expected before the U.S. House of Representatives during the week of June 28.
The highway bill’s provision, championed by Rep. Mike Bost (R-Ill.), would pave the way for $1 billion in grants to enhance states’ resources for truck parking. The provision resembles Bost’s previous legislative attempts at resolving the issue. Over the years, he has been among policymakers and stakeholders sounding the alarm about a lack of available parking for truck drivers.
Specifically, the provision would provide $250 million for each fiscal year starting 2023 through 2026 to require the secretary of transportation to establish grants for truck parking initiatives. Agencies awarded the grants would be tasked with building safe rest areas that include parking for commercial motor vehicles. Additionally, the transportation secretary would be required to review the grants and report to Congress about the provision’s progress.
The trucking provision is among dozens of freight-centric policies attached to a five-year, $547 billion highway measure that Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said she intends to pass prior to July 4.
The bill is designed to update federal highway policies set to expire at the end of September. During its committee consideration, the highway bill was backed by Democrats and opposed by most Republicans.
Bost touted the highway legislation’s attention to truck parking concerns despite his opposition to the overall bill. He suggested the truck parking grants have a solid chance of becoming a reality notwithstanding Republican opposition to the bill.
“The fact that the Democrats did make the decision to put this in, and the Republicans don’t have opposition to it, I believe whatever bill we have out there, when we decide on a bipartisan bicameral bill, I think everybody’s come to the realization with the studies that’ve been done, that it’s time to make that investment and send that money to the states,” said Bost during an interview with Transport Topics June 23. He is a member of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.
Bost explained truckers’ rush to find places to park their vehicles has to do with federal hours-of-service regulations that specify when commercial drivers must stop operating their trucks or risk fines. “Whether you’re approaching a rest area, any off-ramp, anywhere up and down the interstate, you see the trucks pulled off to the side,” he said.
Bost is championing the legislation. (House Television via Associated Press)
“The longer we take to get it out there and get it started through the process through the states, the more people, drivers, as well as noncommercial drivers, are in danger of multiple wrecks, multiple accidents, multiple deaths, multiple crime — all of the things that I’ve talked about if we don’t start making the investment now in the truck parking areas that will continue and only get worse,” Bost said.
Parking concerns have been on Congress’ radar for several years. About a decade ago, a law named after Jason Rivenburg, a trucker killed in a robbery in 2009 after he was unable to find safe parking, ordered a review of the country’s truck parking conditions. That law’s 2019 review found that a majority of truck drivers reported problems with finding safe parking locations. It determined that about 313,000 truck parking spaces were available nationally.
Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.), the transportation committee’s chairman and chief architect of the highway policy measure expected to reach the House floor this month, agreed the provision would help alleviate concerns about insufficient parking facilities for truckers. “We have mandates on drivers, how long they can drive and be safe. And so, therefore, they have to have a safe place to park and rest. And unfortunately, in much of the country, it’s very difficult for them to find a place to park and rest that’s safe,” DeFazio recently told Transport Topics.
“It’s reached a very, very critical point for truck drivers. They have to rest. We mandate rest. And so, therefore, we have to help them find a safe place to rest,” the chairman added.
Of dozens of supporters for the highway bill’s truck parking provision, Rep. Angie Craig (D-Minn.), joined Bost earlier this year on a bill about the issue. In a statement, she said the Truck Parking Safety Improvement Act would “improve safety for the folks who transport our goods and everyone on our roads.”
On the other side of the Capitol, a committee-approved freight transportation bill in the Senate would direct state agencies to measure the capacity of parking and rest facilities for commercial motor vehicles operating on interstates. Senators have signaled the potential for considering that bill on the chamber’s floor this summer.
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