Travel plaza shuts down after receiving electrification grant

By Clarissa Kell-Holland, Land Line staff writer | 10/27/2011

Currently, truckers’ access to these idle-reduction APU alternatives is somewhat scattered across the country.

In Tennessee, a travel plaza owner was awarded the state’s first-ever truck stop electrification project grant for more than $400,000. The funds were made available through federal stimulus money by way of a grant from the Environmental Protection Agency and the Tennessee Department of Transportation.

However, the TR Auto Truck Plaza, located off Interstate 40, in Dandridge, TN, is already closed despite being funded by grant money. The grant paid for the installation of truck stop electrification technology. The plaza just opened in July.

According to court documents, the owner of the travel plaza, Rick Lewis, filed for bankruptcy approximately two weeks before receiving the grant award from TDOT in June 2010.

Lewis had faced financial problems previously, including a conviction in 2002 on 31 counts of theft. He filed for bankruptcy a year later in 2003.

“The success of electrification projects like this was used by EPA to justify the requirement in their new Heavy Duty Truck Fuel Efficiency and Green House Gas Emissions Rule that all trucks shut off their engines after five minutes of idling,” said OOIDA Director of Legislative Affairs Ryan Boley. “Now we have a case where one of the gold star projects under this program has gone belly up. How can trucking believe any of the arguments in EPA’s regulations?"

B.J. Doughty, public information manager for TDOT, told Land Line on Tuesday, Oct. 25, that this was a “one-time grant opportunity through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2008.”

“There have been no other grants, and we don’t anticipate doing any future grants of this nature unless another funding source becomes available,” she said.