Despite pleas from truckers and a congressional mandate in the form of Jason’s Law to address truck parking shortages, local governments are becoming resistant to the idea.
One city in Washington State will hold a public hearing on Jan. 28 over a proposal that will stifle any further accommodations for truckers, potentially exacerbating a dangerously low level of available parking, according to the wife of one area trucker.
North Bend, Wash., will hold a public hearing on a proposal to amend two parts of North Bend Municipal Code that address “commercial truck center/service areas.” The proposal will prohibit any new commercial truck centers/service areas from entering the city.
According to the proposal, a commercial truck center/service area is defined as “a commercial facility which provides refueling, rest area, day or overnight truck parking, food, truck maintenance services and other services for the commercial freight and truck industry and associated drivers.”
If the amendment passes, any expansions to the lone truck stop in the county – known as Truck Town – will be prohibited. A Washington State Department of Transportation spokesperson confirmed that Truck Town is a TravelCenters of America location.
The TravelCenters of America location in North Bend is the only commercial truck travel center in King County, leaving truckers to find themselves in a precarious position when the mountain pass is closed because of inclement weather or crashes.
Joyce Hibma, the wife of a trucker in North Bend, expressed concern for truckers when the Mountain Pass shuts down. According to Hibma, “No Truck Parking” signs are displayed throughout the town, leaving the truckers nowhere to go for provisions or park while waiting for the pass to open.
“This year I have witnessed trucks lined up by the hundreds along Interstate 90 between North Bend, Wash., and Issaquah, Wash., because they have no other place to go,” Hibma told Land Line. “It infuriates me, but I have no idea what I can do about it.”
Hibma said that Snoqualmie Pass, approximately 30 minutes east of North Bend on I-90, will shut down anywhere from two to four hours for avalanche control. In some instances, the closure can last an entire day. According to Hibma, it is not uncommon for shutdowns to occur three to four times a week. When travelling along I-90, North Bend is a pivotal point on the map when closures occur.
As of press time, I-90 is closed from milepost 34 near North Bend to milepost 106 near Ellensburg due to avalanche danger, according to the Washington State Department of Transportation. Both eastbound and westbound lanes are shut down.
“We are the last place for refuge for anyone if they are going to head over the pass,” Hibma said. “When trucks get to North Bend, they put the gate down and no one can go any further. You’re literally sitting in Truck Town.”
But with North Bend proposing a halt to future developments for truck parking, truckers may find Truck Town to be at full capacity. Hibma pointed out that the only recourse for truckers at that point is to backtrack on Washington State Route 18 to the next truck stop in Federal Way, Wash., which is approximately one hour away.
Not only can a detour cut down on a trucker’s bottom line, but it can also be illegal. With few parking spaces available in North Bend, truck drivers running out of time under hours-of-service regulations may find themselves between a rock and a hard place.
Hibma is not alone in her frustration. She pointed out that many people want to see some change, but no one knows how. Hibma has attempted to persuade the city to be more accommodating to trucks but said she has gotten nowhere. At one city council meeting, the response to her concerns over truck parking left her in shock.
“They actually told me that the trucks using the I-90 corridor do not serve our town,” Hibma said.
North Bend’s public hearing on the proposed amendments is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Jan. 28 at the City Hall Conference Room located at 211 Main Avenue North. Written comments will be accepted up until 4:30 p.m. on that day. Comments can be emailed to Gina Estep of the Community and Economic Development Department at GEstep@NorthBendWA.gov.
The city of North Bend could not be reached for comment.
Sign up for eNews here and get all of Land Line’s headlines, features and special reports delivered to your inbox on a daily basis, absolutely free. All it takes is an email address.
Copyright © OOIDA