Truck stop expert: Parking in North Bend, Wash., a 'gridlock cancer'

By Tyson Fisher, Land Line staff writer | Tuesday, January 26, 2016

As the public hearing over truck stops in North Bend, Wash., looms, many in the industry are wondering the fate of future parking near Snoqualmie Pass. One industry consultant has been on the case for more than a year now, and he is not so sure anyone in the city council is listening.

Gary Hall of Truck Stop Consultants is an adviser to truck stop companies. Areas of consulting range from project management to site evaluation and site purchase negotiations. Hall has had his sights set on North Bend for more than a year.

Courtesy of Gary Hall

One of Gary Hall’s proposals, the above image shows a second travel center in the empty lot just north of the existing TravelCenters of America.

“It’s a huge freight corridor,” Hall told Land Line. “The trucks that deliver the goods don’t have a place to park, and therefore make the freeway a parking lot.”

North Bend is situated to the west of Snoqualmie Pass, a mountainous region that frequently shuts down the nearby section of Interstate 90 due to avalanches and other weather-related events. With only one truck stop in North Bend and not another one for approximately an hour in either direction on I-90, trucks are stranded on the side of the interstate for miles when Snoqualmie Pass is shut down.

North Bend has had a temporary amendment blocking all future development of truck stops and truck parking, including expansions to the existing truck stop in the city. On Thursday, Jan. 28, a public hearing will discuss making that amendment permanent.

Last April, Hall proposed a plan for an additional truck stop with parking during a city council meeting. Equipped with maps and layouts, Hall hoped to discuss the growing parking problem in the area. According to Hall, Mayor Ken Hearing interrupted and instructed him to bring it up with Gina Estep, the community economic director. He has not heard back since.

“I could see that the city just did not have interest in even talking about the subject,” Hall said.

The issue stems from complaints by nearby residents of the lone truck stop in North Bend, Hall explained. Using his expertise of the truck stop industry, Hall has been trying to propose a plan that will not only add more parking spaces for trucks, but also address the complaints of nearby residents. His offers seem to have fallen on deaf ears.

“I’ve been in the truck stop consulting business for a lot of years,” Hall said. “I know truck stops. I know designs. I know layouts. What I’ve done is the perfect layout and design that will fix the problem, and they just turn their heads and go ‘We don’t want it; we don’t want to listen.’”

To the best of Hall’s knowledge, none of his proposals have been shown to the complaining neighbors. Hall stated that nobody in the city seems to have studied the issue. Rather, the city’s approach appears to be mostly emotional.

Drivers have no other recourse when I-90 is shut down near Snoqualmie Pass, and preventing future parking spaces in the nearest town at North Bend will only exacerbate the problem.

“It’s a gridlock cancer that will only get worse,” Hall said.

North Bend’s public hearing on the proposed amendments is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 28, at the City Hall Conference Room located at 211 Main Ave. 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.

Related stories:
OOIDA pushes back hard against truck stop ban near Snoqualmie Pass
City at 'pivotal point' near Snoqualmie shuns increasing truck parking

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