Michigan, Minnesota offer truck parking availability systems

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | Friday, September 12, 2014

A new real-time system in Michigan helps guide truckers along Interstate 94 to available parking. The system is also in place in Minnesota.

The Michigan Department of Transportation has activated a system that assesses truck parking availability at public and private locations along the I-94 corridor and “delivers real-time parking availability information to truck drivers.”

The project is federally funded by the Federal Highway Administration.

According to MDOT, truck parking is a major safety concern along the corridor. Trucks account for about one-quarter of all traffic along the nearly 130-mile stretch of highway.

To aid professional drivers looking for a place to rest, MDOT is using multiple methods to share parking availability information. The methods include dynamic roadside truck parking signs, MDOT’s Mi Drive traffic information website, Truck Smart Parking Services website and smartphone apps, as well as a fleet of pilot trucks equipped with onboard connected vehicle equipment.

Signage posted along the corridor provides information about the number of truck parking spots available at upcoming exits and rest areas.

Specifically, five rest areas and 10 truck stops are taking part in the program. The agency says these locations account for 1,100 parking spaces.

MDOT says the program could be expanded to other areas in the future.

In nearby Minnesota, a similar program is up and running to alert truckers to available parking places at three rest areas along I-94.

The technology is active at the Elm Creek Rest Area, two miles north of I-494; the Big Spunk Lake Rest Area between Albany and Avon; and the Enfield Rest Area near Monticello. Plans call for adding a private truck stop as well.

John Tompkins, MnDOT project manager, said the information will help the agency structure its parking availability.

“So far, the results have been positive,” Tompkins said in a news release. “We’ve had 95 percent accuracy in determining the availability of spaces.”

MnDOT will review the results this December and decide whether to expand the system.

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