FHWA notes truck parking shortage in some states, surplus in others

| 7/3/2002

The Federal Highway Administration released a truck parking study this month that noted a parking shortage in 12 states, but also said truck parking nationwide is "more than adequate."

The study assessed commercial and public rest areas in all states. Based on that combination, it showed a sufficient supply in eight states, a surplus in 29 states and a shortage in 12. Shortages at commercial truckstops and travel plazas were less common and largely offset public shortages in 35 states, the report said.

The 12 states FHWA claims are short on truck parking are California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Ohio, Texas and Washington.

The study said public rest areas along national highways were never intended to accommodate truck parking. Instead, the commercial truckstop and travel plaza industry, state highway agencies, and turnpike authorities should supply truck parking facilities, the study said.

Even though the number of parking spaces overall might be enough, according to the study, the type of spaces available doesn't match demand: 90 percent of parking spaces are in truckstops and travel plazas, while 10 percent are in public rest areas.

Yet, 23 percent of the demand is for public parking spaces. Half of the drivers who filled out the study's survey said that parking is rarely or almost never available at public areas, while 15 percent said the same about private areas.

The report said 23 states do not have enough public spaces, but claims private spaces fill the gap. Those states are Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah and Virginia.

The report, commissioned by Congress, counted an estimated 315,850 parking spaces at public rest areas, travel plazas and private truckstops along interstate highways and other routes in the National Highway System.

The report recommended that states expand the rest areas and work with the private sector to expand both travel plazas and truckstops. And it recommended that states no longer force truckers who have driven the maximum number of hours they can under federal law to leave public rest areas even if they exceed limits on how long they can park there. The FHWA report is available at: http://safety.fhwa.dot.gov.