‘Groundbreaking’

After years of no real action at the federal level, the Truck Parking Safety Improvement Act can be a game-changer for the truck parking crisis.

May 2020

Tyson Fisher

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A truck parking bill hailed as “groundbreaking” by Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association President Todd Spencer is now in the hands of the U.S. House of Representatives.

On March 5, Reps. Mike Bost, R-Ill., and Angie Craig, D-Minn., introduced HR6104, the Truck Parking Safety Improvement Act.

HR6104 would set aside hundreds of millions of dollars to add to the nation’s truck parking capacity. According to text of the bill, the money will come off the top of four separate safety programs prior to funding being apportioned to states.

In any given fiscal year, the National Highway Performance Program, the Surface Transportation Block Grant Program, the Highway Safety Improvement Program and the National Highway Freight Program receive their share of the Highway Trust Fund. HR6104 will draw money from those programs and set it aside specifically for truck parking.

HR6104 would authorize $755 million for truck parking over five years:

  • $125 million for fiscal year 2021.
  • $140 million for fiscal year 2022.
  • $150 million for fiscal year 2023.
  • $165 million for fiscal year 2024.
  • $175 million for fiscal year 2025.

How much each program will contribute to truck parking will be proportional to its share of collective funding.

OOIDA worked closely with members of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee to develop meaningful truck parking legislation that would garner support throughout the industry.

“After decades of ignoring the problem, Congress is finally getting serious about fixing the severe lack of truck parking across the country,” Spencer said. “Finding a safe place to park is something most people take for granted, but it’s a daily struggle for hundreds of thousands of truckers.”

Grant specifics

Grants under HR6104 will be awarded on a competitive basis for projects that will provide parking for trucks on federal-aid highways or on a facility with reasonable access to a federal-aid highway or a freight facility.

Those eligible to receive a grant include states, metropolitan planning organizations, local governments and any public agency carrying out responsibilities relating to truck parking.

In addition to being near a federal-aid highway or freight facility, HR6104 projects must be one of three specified types.

First, it can be a safety rest area. A “safety rest area” is defined as an area where motor vehicle operators can park their vehicles and rest, where food, fuel and lodging services are not available on a segment of highway where the transportation secretary determines there is a shortage of public and private areas for motor vehicle operators to park their vehicles and rest.

Second, a truck parking facility under HR6104 can be built:

  • Adjacent to a private, commercial truck stop and travel plaza.
  • Within the boundaries of, or adjacent to, a publicly owned freight facility, including a port terminal operated by a public authority.
  • At existing facilities, including inspection and weigh stations and park-and-ride locations.

Third, a project can convert existing weigh stations and rest areas to facilities for the exclusive use of truck parking. However, no more than 25% of allocations can be used for preconstruction activities such as feasibility analyses, environmental reviews, and the like.

Proposed projects will have the greatest chance of grant approval if they meet the following criteria:

  • Demonstrate a safety need for truck parking capacity in the corridor in which the project is proposed to be carried out.
  • Consult with affected state and local governments, trucking organizations, and private providers of truck parking.
  • Demonstrate that the project will likely increase truck parking capacity, facilitate the efficient movement of freight and improve highway safety, traffic congestion, and air quality.
  • Demonstrate the ability to provide for the maintenance and operation cost necessary to keep the facility available for use after completion of construction.

No matter what type of project is proposed, all projects under HR6104 must adhere to one overarching demand: no fees can be charged for a truck to access and park at any part of the facilities constructed with the grant money.

Available funds are to be used until the well is dry, making the money nontransferable.

Representative with a trucking background

Coming from a trucking background, Bost is familiar with the difficulties truck drivers face trying to find a safe place to park. Bost’s grandfather started Bost Truck Service in the 1930s. Growing up, he was immersed in the business. Later, he enlisted in the Marine Corps and then returned to trucking in 1982.

He worked at Bost Truck Service for 13 years as a driver and truck manager. In an interview last year with Land Line, Bost said his brother and cousin still own the family trucking business.

“Growing up in a family trucking business, I learned at an early age what a rewarding career it could be,” Bost said. “However, I also understood that trucking can be a tough, demanding, and even dangerous job. One concern for truck drivers is the lack of enough safe parking spots where they can get the rest they need without risking collisions on the shoulder of the highway or being forced to push their limits to find the next rest stop. This puts the truckers and other motorists at significant risk. That’s why I’m proud to lead this effort to create sufficient rest parking options for long-haul truckers.”

HR6104 is also being supported by the American Trucking Associations, Truckload Carriers Association and the National Association of Small Trucking Companies.

“Truck drivers perform a valuable service to our economy, moving more than 70% of our nation’s goods, and having opportunities to safely rest is an important part of that,” said Chris Spear, ATA president and CEO. “Congressman Bost’s recognition that in order to do their jobs truck drivers need places where they can safely park and rest is overdue, and we applaud him for his leadership in introducing this important legislation.”

Jason’s Law anniversary

The bill was introduced on the 11th anniversary of the death of Jason Rivenburg, a trucker from Fultonham, N.Y. Rivenburg was murdered during a robbery while parked in an abandoned gas station in South Carolina. The incident sparked a nationwide outcry and led to the creation of Jason’s Law, which attempted to address the truck parking crisis in 2012 by directing the U.S. Department of Transportation to conduct a nationwide parking survey.

Since 2012, no significant action has been taken at the federal level to add truck parking capacity. Currently, the DOT is working on the second edition of the survey.

“Right now, there is a lack of places for truck drivers to safely stop, forcing them to pull over to the side of the road, or continue driving, both of which are risky,” Craig said. “That’s why I am proud to be working my colleague, Rep. Mike Bost from Illinois, to increase truck parking spaces, increasing safety for folks transporting goods to and from Minnesota’s Second Congressional District.” LL

Tyson Fisher

Tyson Fisher joined Land Line Magazine in March 2014. An award-winning journalist and tireless researcher, his news reports, features and blogs bring depth to our editorial content, backed with solid detail. Tyson is a lifelong Kansas Citian.