ATA Touts USDOT Truck Parking Investments
Industry Stakeholders Gather for South Dakota Funding Announcement
American Trucking Associations President Chris Spear renewed calls for Congress and the Biden administration to continue with efforts that fund truck parking programs.
In South Dakota on Sept. 12, Spear joined government and industry officials to tout recent federal investments for additional parking for commercial drivers. Spear pointed to recent Department of Transportation initiatives meant to tackle this long-standing industry concern.
“This event is really a fine example of our industry coming together and government officials actually hearing the issues that our drivers face each and every day: spending nearly an hour looking for parking, losing nearly $5,000 a year in wages spent looking for a place to rest,” said Spear, referring to the shortage of truck parking as a “national problem.”
We’re proud to join @SecretaryPete & @USDOT in South Dakota to unveil a new truck parking project on I-90. As we celebrate #NTDAW23, we must work to ensure America’s truck drivers have the infrastructure they need to do their jobs safely and efficiently. #ThankATrucker🙏 🚛 pic.twitter.com/wmLgVKXxfz
— American Trucking (@TRUCKINGdotORG) September 12, 2023
Dan Van Alstine, chairman of ATA and president and chief operating officer of Ruan Transportation Management Systems, amplified the industry’s concerns specific to parking. “The shortage of truck parking capacity is, first and foremost, a critical safety issue for drivers, the motoring public and law enforcement,” Van Alstine observed. “The time that is wasted, and frustration and anxiety created, searching for safe parking also leads to supply chain disruptions, reduces drivers’ compensation, and adds unnecessary congestion and emissions.”
The chairman noted, “Secretary [Pete] Buttigieg is the first USDOT secretary to award grants for projects that add parking spots. We appreciate his focus on this issue, and we will continue to support bipartisan efforts in Congress to secure additional dedicated funding for truck parking.”
Said America’s Road Team Captain Dean Key, a professional driver for Ruan Transportation: “The severe lack of truck parking has an enormous impact on drivers nationwide. It touches almost every aspect of our profession, from quality of life to compensation, but more than that, the lack of truck parking is fundamentally a safety issue.”
For truck drivers, their truck cab is their office, living room, and sleeping quarters. When there's not enough truck parking, there's not enough places to rest safely.— U.S. Department of Transportation (@USDOT) September 12, 2023
We're announcing $80M to improve access to truck parking, and advance highway safety nationwide. pic.twitter.com/LOX1G62nLt
In South Dakota, Buttigieg highlighted 11 spots dedicated for commercial vehicles as part of a transportation reconstruction project along Interstate 90. During the Biden administration, USDOT awarded the Mount Rushmore State a $61.1 million grant for improvements to its freight corridor. Expanding truck parking accommodations is an aspect of the project.
“We have stepped up our work on the truck parking coalition and our efforts to encourage states and other decision-makers to make better use of infrastructure dollars to expand parking,” said Buttigieg, noting a USDOT partnership with stakeholders.
Additionally, the secretary announced the availability of more than $80 million in grants for highway safety programs, such as parking projects.
“Know that you will continue to have a partner in the U.S. Department of Transportation. And I’m really glad that we’re able to be here to celebrate projects like this one, expanding truck parking nationwide,” Buttigieg said.
During Buttigieg’s tenure, USDOT has assisted other states with truck parking expansion projects. Notably, transportation agencies in Louisiana, Florida and Tennessee recently were awarded federal grants for truck parking facilities.
On Capitol Hill, members of Congress have yet to clear for President Joe Biden legislation designed to increase truck parking nationwide. A bill that would expand parking facilities for truck drivers awaits a vote in the U.S. House of Representatives.
In May, the Truck Parking Safety Improvement Act was advanced by the chamber’s transportation committee in a voice-vote. The measure would authorize $755 million through fiscal 2026 to expand parking access for commercial vehicles. As part of the committee-passed bill, state agencies would be tasked with adding parking to existing facilities and assisting with the construction of new facilities.
“By expanding access to parking options for truckers, we are making our roads safer for all commuters and ensuring that goods and supplies are shipped to market in the most efficient way possible,” said Rep. Mike Bost (R-Ill.), the bill’s co-sponsor. “This is a matter of public safety, and I’m proud to have led on this important legislation.”
Companion legislation sponsored by Sens. Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.) and Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.) has yet to be considered in committee. “Without safe truck parking, truckers spend an unnecessary amount of time searching for a place to park — putting truckers and Wyoming drivers at greater risk for accidents,” Lummis said shortly after her bill’s introduction earlier this year.
Tackling the truck parking shortage has gained bipartisan backing in Congress. The American Transportation Research Institute ranked inadequate access to parking third on its “Critical Issues in the Trucking Industry” in 2022.