North Bend truck stop property owner criticizes city over parking issue

By Tyson Fisher, Land Line staff writer | Thursday, January 28, 2016

A public hearing in North Bend, Wash., that could kill any chances of more parking spaces at a logistically crucial point near Snoqualmie Pass, has drawn fire from residents, truck stop experts, city councilmembers and the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association. Now, a co-owner of the property that the lone truck stop sits on has chimed in.

In an open letter sent to Land Line, Gaynel Gunderson, part-owner of the property that the TravelCenters of America in North Bend sits on, criticizes the city for false assurances. Gunderson’s father, Ken Rogers, bought Truck Town in 1961.

When Rogers purchased Truck Town – now TravelCenters of America – it sat outside of North Bend, Gunderson notes. In 1974, the state government took over the property for an Interstate 90 expansion. The truck stop was moved to its current location in 1976, which back then was outside of North Bend city limits.

“Since that time neighborhoods have sprung up and a school,” Gunderson mention in the letter. “And Truck Town, now TravelCenters of America, has been there offering service and that safe haven.”

Gunderson explains that when North Bend wanted to annex the area Truck Town sat on into the city, she was personally assured that as long as Truck Town did not oppose the annexation the city would support the truck stop. Gunderson claims that turned out not to be the case.

“Since the annexation, the city council and the mayor have been quietly passing ordinances that prohibit and restrain our growth and business,” Gunderson wrote. “We have been singled out and discriminated against.”

North Bend Mayor Kenneth G. Hearing could not be reached for comment.

If the city council passes an amendment to municipal code being discussed at a public hearing on Thursday, Jan. 28, not only will the TravelCenters of America be virtually prohibited from expanding its operations, but any future development of truck stops will be banned. The amendment will make permanent a temporary amended code already in the books.

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.

“These truckers are forced to stop along the highway or roads in unsafe areas and conditions,” Gunderson wrote. “They need our facility and they need the support of the city of North Bend, the state of Washington and the federal government. Trucking is a lifeline of our survival.”

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:
North Bend councilmember weighs in on truck parking issue
Truck stop expert: Parking in North Bend, Wash., a 'gridlock cancer' 
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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