FHWA seeks comments on critical truck parking problem

| 12/4/2009

As states continue to shutter critical rest areas in an effort to save money, more truckers are finding themselves out in the cold with no safe place to park and rest.

However, that may change as the Federal Highway Administration once again seeks input on the “shortage of long-term parking on the National Highway System.”

On Nov. 27, the FHWA posted a notice for public comments on the Federal Register. The 60-day comment period ends on Jan. 26, 2010. The original notice contained an error that had comments due on the same date the notice posted on the Register. That has since been corrected.

While Doug Hecox, spokesman for FHWA, said there is currently no money to award projects at this time, he added that he is optimistic that in the future the “financial challenges (the agency) currently faces will be well behind us.”

“The grants wouldn’t be awarded until after the comments have been reviewed, so there’s significant time before these awards will be presented,” Hecox told Land Line.

Melissa Theriault Rohan, associate director of government affairs for the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, said the Association will definitely be submitting comments about the need for more truck parking.

“Something needs to happen soon on the issue of truck parking, and our comments will reflect that action is needed now,” she told Land Line Magazine.

OOIDA originally provided comments on this same issue back in 2005 when Congress attempted to address the truck parking problem with federal legislation that provided funding to states.

As part of the Truck Parking Facilities pilot program established under the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient and Transportation Equity Act, or 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.

“Congress recognized the need to address this issue, but under the previous administration that money was diverted away from its intended use for truck parking,” Rohan said. “This (notice) gives us and others another opportunity to comment on truck parking and the importance of funding projects that will prove beneficial to our members.”

– By Clarissa Kell-Holland, staff writer