In 2016, I spent a lot of time traveling the country to talk about truck parking.
The Federal Highway Administration hosted a series of regional truck parking stakeholder meetings with a goal of collecting ideas and best practices on how to expand truck parking nationwide. These meetings were a priority for NATSO and its team, which represents an industry providing 90 percent of the overnight truck parking in the United States.
The Federal Government asked stakeholders, which included representatives of the truckstop industry, fleets, truck drivers and state Departments of Transportation among others, to focus on truck parking capacity expansion, funding and finance, technology and data, as well as government coordination and planning.
Those ideas recently were summarized in the Federal Highway Administration’s National Coalition on Truck Parking 2015-2016 activity report.
It’s impossible to outline every idea represented in this report here, but with respect to truck stops, documented concepts for expanding trucking parking capacity included:
- Developing additional truck parking capacity through contractual relationships between private truck stop operators and trucking firms, similar to existing fuel contracts.
- Expanding truck parking facilities through agreements with state Departments of Transportation to build new truck parking adjacent to existing truck stops.
- Exploring tax incentives for the private sector to build new parking capacity.
- Developing best management practices to minimize the financial costs of building and maintaining truck parking.
A model for paid parking arrangements at private facilities also was discussed, as well as the need to involve truck stops in state advisory committees and regional transportation planning meetings to advocate for truck parking. Unfortunately, truck stops across the United States frequently encounter local government and citizen opposition when they seek to expand their facilities.
I also reminded the DOT that commercial rest areas have a negative effect on truck parking capacity. If truck stops and travel plazas are forced to compete against state-operated commercial rest areas that have an advantageous location on the interstate right-of-way, existing private businesses will flounder, and many will even go under. Truck stops and travel plazas need a healthy business climate to thrive and invest in truck parking.
On the technology front, I urged state DOT attendees and other stakeholders to participate in, and encourage the use of Park My Truck, a mobile app launched by NATSO, ATA and the American Transportation Research Institute to help truck drivers find available truck parking.
FHWA said it plans to establish stakeholder working groups to advance any viable options in the report. For its part, NATSO will continue to work with all truck parking stakeholders to address any and all truck parking concerns.
Guest post from:
Tiffany Wlazlowski Neuman
Vice president, public affairs
NATSO, Representing America's Travel Plazas and Truckstops