The state of Texas
is in the process of more than doubling the number of truck parking spaces at
the its safety rest areas, officials from TxDOT told Land Line.
program started in 1999, when the Texas Transportation Commission authorized
the use of federal enhancement funds to revamp the aging rest areas.
The state’s reasons for the renovation effort are simple,
according to Andy
Keith, manager of the safety rest area program at TxDOT: Increase safety
on the road by alleviating driver fatigue.
“To do that, you have to have a nice comfortable place for
people to stop, and they need to not have any trepidation about stopping
there,” he said.
The problem was particularly bad in Texas. Statistics from
the National Highway Transportation Safety Agency showed that the state had the
highest number of highway accidents caused by fatigue of any state in the
had such a shortage of truck parking compared with demand that at night, “they’ll fill it up with trucks, entrance ramp and exit ramp,” Andy Keith,
manager of the safety rest area program at TxDOT, said.
will soon change.
probably more than doubling” the number of truck parking spaces in the state’s
rest areas, Keith said.
upgrade of all the rest areas is done, he said, each will have a minimum of 28
truck parking spaces on each side of the highway, compared with many that now
have a capacity of 15. Many of those current rest areas don’t have any parking
specifically designed for trucks at all.
One new rest area
along Interstate 40 has 50 truck parking spaces on each side of the highway –
“more than any of the others,” Keith said. But even that new rest area shows
just how short the state is of meeting demand.
“It’s not uncommon
at nighttime to go out there and count over 100 trucks on each side,” he said.
“They park everywhere.”
The state has
completed renovations of 18 of its 84 original safety rest areas. But it has
also added two new rest areas since April, with plans for more. TxDOT also
operates the state’s 12 travel centers, all of which contain truck parking.
In the end, the
department will operate 114 locations with new, expanded truck parking facilities.
But even that, Keith said, will not be enough.
“I think it’s more
than any other state, but we just can’t keep up with the truck parking spaces
here in Texas, there’s so much demand,” he said. “It’s going to take a
partnership or a cooperative effort with the commercial truck stop operators.”
Texas, true to its reputation, is not skimping in building
the new rest area facilities.
Information on the TxDOT Web site shows that all of the new
safety rest areas will have:
enclosed restroom buildings;
- Ample lighting
in all public areas for enhanced security;
- A kiosk with
local information including a map;
- A drinking
- A telephone.
Some of the rest areas in more heavily traveled areas will
include more enhancements, such as:
high-speed Internet access through Wi-Fi; and
- Separation of
Truck and RV parking from passenger car parking.
The state is also trying to locate as many of the rest areas as possible
near historical sites, and is working with local and state historical societies
to incorporate historically significant items – such as old bridges, windmills
or railroad cars – into the rest area designs.
--by Mark H. Reddig, associate editor
Mark Reddig can be reached at email@example.com.