FHWA report details what truck parking coalition has accomplished so far

By Tyson Fisher, Land Line staff writer | 7/7/2017

The Federal Highway Administration’s National Coalition on Truck Parking has released its 2015-2016 activity report. Established in 2015, the report documents the coalition’s first year of activities, including suggestions from participating stakeholders.

Last year, the coalition conducted four regional meetings, including one at the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association headquarters in Grain Valley, Mo. Coalition members discussed four main aspects of the truck parking problems: parking capacity, technology and data, state/regional/local government coordination and funding/finance/regulations.

The coalition was formed to respond to needs identified in a truck parking survey conducted by FHWA as part “Jason’s Law,” a provision in the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century. Members include representatives of the trucking industry, commercial vehicle safety officials, state departments of transportation and commercial truck stop owners and operators. Meetings were conducted by FHWA, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, the Maritime Administration, and the five core Coalition partners:

  • Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association
  • American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials
  • National Association of Truck Stop Operators
  • Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance
  • American Trucking Associations

Parking capacity
This topic covers the overall supply and accommodation of truck parking spaces. Among the many suggestions, the use of public land within highway rights-of-way for truck parking was popular among stakeholders. Highway construction areas used for storage of equipment could be used for truck parking after construction completion. Other options include the use of carpool lots during overnight hours, truck chain-up areas during summer months, and ports of entry and weigh stations as temporary parking areas.

Updating the national standard for parking facilities, considering the needs of oversized trucks, security and lighting, and maximizing the capacity of a rest area within a highway right-of-way was another suggestion. This includes updating the size of parking spaces and parking time limits.

A big topic at the meeting held at OOIDA headquarters was the integration of shippers and receivers into the conversation. More specifically, encouraging shippers and receivers to allow truckers to park on the premises, especially where paved, adequate space is already available.

Improving the efficiency of the nation’s infrastructure could also alleviate some the truck parking problems. Stakeholders suggested that reduced congestion could prevent truckers from having to stop at unanticipated locations to adhere to hours of service regulations. Similar improvements in waiting times at terminals/ports and industrial sites could yield similar results.

Technology and data
The use of roadside Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) and in-vehicle technology through smartphone apps or online resources for truck parking was discussed in this topic, including disseminating real-time information about parking availability at highway rest areas and private truck stops using technology. Related projects are already underway on Interstate 75 in Tennessee, Interstate 5 in California, the regional Truck Parking Information and Management System (TPIMS) in eight Midwestern states and several other locations.

Some private company associations such as National Association of Truck Stop Operators, American Trucking Associations, and the American Transportation Research Institute have their own free app called “Park My Truck.” It was suggested that such an app should also include public rest areas.

Other suggestions include information sharing models used on apps like Waze, adding truck parking to existing fleet/vehicles management software and using vehicle-to-infrastructure technology to guide truckers to available parking.

Funding, finance and regulations
This topic includes the funding of facilities and technology to accommodate truck parking, as well as regulations and policies that affect truck parking utilization. The report mentions that “regulatory issues such as hours-of-service requirements and freight industry business practices may also impact parking demand.”

Some stakeholders pitched the idea of using existing taxes or fees (Truck Tire Tax, Truck and Trailer Sales Taxes, Heavy Vehicle Use Tax) to provide a dedicated funding source for capital and maintenance funds for public rest areas and truck parking facilities. For example, the Environmental Protection Agency has a Leaking Underground Storage Tank Trust Fund as a dedicated fund for a specific purpose.

Possible public-private partnerships could be established to develop new or expanded parking facilities. The Nevada Department of Transportation entered into an agreement to build a new truck parking lot adjacent to a Flying J truck stop off I-80, with the truck stop providing litter control and basic maintenance of the site.

Despite the lack of support from the trucking industry, parking fees were also discussed. Some stakeholders said such fees could be inevitable in solving parking issues in metropolitan areas where demand far exceeds the supply.

State, regional and local government coordination
This topic covers coordination efforts among various levels of government, along with community outreach to highlight the importance of truck parking in the nation’s commerce. The key word here is “metropolitan planning organizations” or MPOs.

As simple as it may sound, a major point of discussion was conducting outreach through MPOs, regional councils, economic development authorities and national industry organizations to educate the public and elected officials regarding truck parking needs. Trucking and truck stop industries are encouraged to get involved in state and MPO advisory committees, including encouraging states and MPOs to address truck parking in freight plans.

The coalition mentioned the Trucking Moves America Forward campaign as an example of ways to reach out to the public and educate them about the importance of trucking and truck parking. Port Day and Iowa 80 Truckers Jamboree were also mentioned in this discussion.

Lastly, city parking projects in Elmira, N.Y., and Weed, Calif., were used as examples of successful implementation of truck parking solutions at the municipality level. In those cities, the local government paved unused land owned by the city and turned it into truck-only parking lots.

Moving forward
With two national meetings, four regional meetings and a report completed, the parking coalition still has more work to do. Working groups will be established in each of the four topics discussed above. Those groups will come up with implementation strategies for initiatives discussed during the previous meetings.

FHWA also plans on conducting a second round of the Jason’s Law Survey as mandated in MAP-21. The survey is estimated to be administered in 2018.

In the meantime, coalition members are encouraged to get involved in state and MPO freight planning processes immediately and to continue to stay involved. Members are also encouraged to continue educating the public and public officials.

Copyright © OOIDA