Above and beyond

By Tyson Fisher, staff writer

Cities that are causing problems for truckers regarding parking – e.g., North Bend, Wash., are getting plenty of attention in the press. But what about the municipalities that go above and beyond for the trucking industry? Surely they exist.

They do, and two cities from opposite ends of the country have made headlines with their efforts to cater to truckers that serve as a great example to all areas in between.

Elmira, N.Y.

On the East Coast, with a population of approximately 29,000 people, lies a city less than 10 miles north of Pennsylvania on New York State Route 14 called Elmira. Land Line first heard about Elmira from Senior Member Terry Button, an owner-operator from Rushville, N.Y., and had to check it out.

At one point, the city had an issue with trucks parking along the streets, according to one city official. In addition, trucks starting up their engines early in the morning were causing a bit of noise pollution.

Did the city say, “Enough is enough! Not in my back yard!”? You bet, but not in the way you think. They moved trucks away from the literal backyards and gave truckers their own lot.

For $5 overnight, $30 weekly or $50 monthly truckers can park their vehicles in Elmira without worrying about citizen pushback. In fact, Mayor Daniel Mandell told me the city was “very” accepting and welcoming of the truck lot.

The mayor’s response to citizens complaining about trucks: “That went away when we built the parking area.”

And Mayor Mandell’s response when asked if the city decided to help truckers rather than reject them: “You hit the nail on the head. It’s been a great thing for the truck drivers and a great thing for the city.”

Weed, Calif.

Nearly 3,000 miles west of Elmira and approximately 50 miles south of the Oregon border is a small community of less than 3,000 people called Weed. It is less than half the population of North Bend, Wash., and nearly the same size in square miles. Yet Weed’s response to truck parking is antithetical to North Bend’s.

Off of Interstate 5 on Vista Drive sits a Pilot Travel Center. The truck plaza was a good start for parking, but not enough. As City Administrator Ronald Stock pointed out, truckers have three choices for rest when traveling in Northern California/Southern Oregon: Redding and Weed, Calif., and Medford, Ore. When temperatures in Redding and Medford reach triple digits, Weed stays somewhere in the 80s.

“So if you had to sleep in your cab, where would you stop?” Stock asked.

Although Weed allows truckers to park on the public roadways – another accommodation not afforded to truckers in many cities – parking was still an issue. A more desirable location in warmer weather months and agricultural business during fall, Weed was experiencing a lot of truck traffic.

“We had so much truck parking that it was becoming congested,” Stock said. “The truck operators were complaining, and we decided to meet their needs.”

Rather than restrict truckers from coming in, the city of Weed decided to provide a solution to the parking problem. The city leased some property and built a parking lot three years ago. Two years ago, the city asphalted the lot and put up signs designating the lot for commercial trucks only.

But wait. There’s more.

“We’re on the lookout for a second location,” Stock said. “We’re willing to build a second parking lot, and continue to meet the needs of those who do business in our community.”

“The community is very pro-business, and the transportation industry is a significant portion of our economy,” Stock said. “(Trucking) provides a great deal of both taxes and employment, and so it is used positively by our community.” LL