Critical truck parking still needed as $30 million travel plaza opens in Maryland

By Clarissa Hawes, Land Line staff writer | Wednesday, January 15, 2014

A new $30 million travel plaza is scheduled to open the week of Jan. 20 in Aberdeen, Md., along Interstate 95, as part of a public-private partnership project with the Maryland Transportation Authority. However, state-owned rest areas are not fairing as well financially.

According to the MDTA, the new 42,000-square-foot Maryland House Travel Plaza, which is located at mile marker 82 on I-95, will have 60 truck parking spaces, offer fuel and food, and be open 24 hours a day. Areas USA will operate and maintain the travel plaza through 2047, while the MDTA will retain ownership and oversight of the travel plaza. The 35-year agreement is expected to net the MDTA more than $400 million.

However, the Maryland State Highway Administration is struggling financially to maintain its rest areas, announcing recently that it was “modifying service hours.” The new plan will limit the majority of its rest areas to daytime-only hours. One aging rest area will be closed in an effort to save the state more than $567,000 in operational costs.

Eighty percent of the nearly 4,000 participants in Hope Rivenburg’s truck parking survey identified the Northeast region as the hardest area of the country to find safe and adequate parking. In Rivenburg’s survey results released in December, truck drivers named Baltimore, Md., as one of the top five cities in the country in dire need of more safe truck parking.

The survey is dedicated to Hope Rivenburg’s husband, Jason, a truck driver who was murdered while he rested at an abandoned gas station in South Carolina after not being able to park on-site where he was scheduled to deliver the following morning.

Since his death more than four years ago, a mandated provision to study truck parking, known as “Jason’s Law,” is in the current highway law.

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