By Clarissa Kell-Holland
In comments filed with the Federal Highway Administration in late January, the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association stressed the importance of creating new long-term truck parking options for drivers, rather than continuing to seek comments on this issue.
OOIDA argues that the FHWA’s latest request is “burdensome” because it “seeks public comments on its plan to request approval from Office of Management and Budget for the collection of information pertaining to the shortage of long-term parking on the National Highway System.”
However, in its comments, OOIDA states that the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient, Transportation Equity Act – or SAFETEA-LU – legislation that was passed in 2005 already directed the Secretary of Transportation to “establish a pilot program addressing the inadequate supply of long-term truck parking spaces, so this latest data collection request isn’t necessary.”
As part of the Truck Parking Facilities pilot program established under SAFETEA-LU, Congress provided $6.25 million per year until 2009 for projects to address the truck parking problem. But that money was never allocated. And in November 2007, FHWA and U.S. Department of Transportation officials stated that there was a new direction for the pilot program. The money set aside for states to address parking issues was redirected to the federal Corridors of the Future program.
OOIDA’s Director of Regulatory Affairs Joe Rajkovacz said for drivers facing truck parking shortages daily across the country, FHWA’s “actions will speak louder than words.”
“FHWA is wasting valuable time soliciting comments on a proposal that does nothing to address the actual truck parking shortage,” Rajkovacz said. “There is already adequate data that was collected when SAFETEA-LU was passed, and since that time the truck parking problem has only gotten worse.”
In preparing the Association’s comments on this issue, the OOIDA Foundation was directed to develop a Parking Survey to gauge whether truck parking was an ongoing issue for its members, who spend an average of 150 nights or more away from home each year. According to its survey results, more than 77 percent of those responding said they “often or on a regular basis have difficulty finding parking to take their required rest breaks at the end of the workday.”
Another 45 percent of those who responded to OOIDA’s survey stated that they often or on a regular basis drive beyond where they feel safe and alert or beyond their daily driving hours because of truck parking shortages.
“OOIDA applauds Congress’s creation of a federal pilot program to assist state, regional and local governments grappling with long-term truck parking. However, FHWA should not use its resources to gather more information about the parking shortage,” OOIDA leadership wrote in comments to FHWA.
“Once funding becomes available, it should solicit applications for eligible projects in all seven categories identified in SAFETEA-LU and allocate funds to those projects that will do the most to create new long-term parking spaces in the areas with the most severe shortage.” LL