State Watch
OOIDA: Parking spaces worth more to truckers than signs

By Clarissa Kell-Holland, staff writer

The Minnesota Department of Transportation is testing an electronic signage project designed to check the availability of truck parking – a touchy subject among truckers who struggle to find actual parking spaces every day.

Since the new highway bill was signed back in July 2012, OOIDA has been urging DOT offices around the country to make truck parking a top priority and create more parking spaces, instead of spending money to study the problem.

A provision known as “Jason’s Law” in the new highway law dedicates federal money to help construct, improve or reopen commercial parking facilities along the National Highway System.

“It is our hope that states will move away from spending millions of dollars on parking systems that simply inform truckers about something they already know – that there isn’t any parking out there,” said Laura O’Neill, director of government affairs for OOIDA.

“Instead, we hope that the DOT will work with the states under ‘Jason’s Law’ to increase parking availability. Perhaps then, spending millions on signage would be more meaningful for truckers.”

MnDOT is testing cameras at the Interstate 94 Elm Creek rest area two miles northwest of the intersection of Interstate 94 and Interstate 494. Once the test phase is completed and the system goes live in April, truck drivers will receive notification of space availability through a website, in-cab messaging and signage along I-94.

Following the passage of the new highway bill last year, OOIDA Executive Vice President Todd Spencer wrote to U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood, urging the DOT to use funds for parking spaces instead of directing truck drivers to already crammed truck parking areas.

“Every night, they face the prospect of getting to their planned truck stop or rest area only to find it filled to capacity, something that only adding more parking capacity can fix,” Spencer wrote. LL