The Federal Highway Administration has issued its final
recommendations on the so-called Interstate Oasis Program, but it doesn't
assure any more parking spaces for heavy trucks, or even guarantee as many
parking spaces as there are now.
The program, which was included in the 2005 Highway Bill and
signed into law in August 2005, is a response to a growing trend among states
in shutting down public rest areas along interstates.
Under the Oasis plan, highway signs will divert traffic to a
participating truck stop or other privately owned facility that provides fuel,
food and public telephones, and is within three miles of the highway.
But the FHWA didn't specify how many truck parking spaces
would have to be available at an Oasis facility. Instead, it will use criteria
provided by Natso, the trade association that represents truck stops.
The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association submitted
comments about the program. The Association came out in support of an effort
that would increase truck parking, but condemned the fact that the program does
not prevent the closure of public rest areas and parking facilities.
strongly supports the development of additional facilities that would provide
truckers with additional parking as well as food, fuel, and sanitary facilities
on a 24 hour/7 days per week basis," the Association said in its comments.
OOIDA is concerned that the promotion of such privately-owned facilities will
give states an additional justification for closing existing public rest areas,
which currently provide essential parking spaces for the commercial trucking
Additionally, the Association argued that the use of the
so-called "Oases" should be free of charge, a detail that was not included in
the original proposal, but was added to the final policy.
- By Aaron Ladage, staff editor