The Parking Zone – July 2019
Municipalities banning truck parking; high demand for rest areas
New reports regarding local truck parking are too numerous and small in scope to report on individually. However, what each of these news items means to the underlying national problem is too significant to ignore. Below is a roundup of the latest truck parking-related news items from across the United States.
Local governments cracking down on truck parking
Since the last Parking Zone, quite a few municipalities across the nation have been installing ordinances that address trucks parking within city limits, none of which are good.
Police officers in San Benito, Texas, are enforcing an ordinance that prohibits trucks from parking on city streets that went into effect in 1995. Truckers who normally park at the San Benito Industrial Park had their vehicles towed, including one driver who has been parking there for more than six years. The Valley Star reports that there are 100 truckers living in the town.
Further east, officials in Orange County, Fla., are considering increasing fines for truckers parking their vehicles on residential streets, according to the Orlando Sentinel. Currently at $30, the county commissioner does not believe the low amount is an effective deterrent. How much the county wants to raise the fine is up in the air.
Also in Florida, Lee County passed an ordinance that bans vehicles weighing more than 15,000 pounds from being parked on the owner’s property, according to WBBH-TV. Of course, the ordinance does not apply to personal RVs because that would upset too many people. Rather, Lee County wants to punish truckers directly by setting arbitrary lines within its ordinances.
The Board of Aldermen in Ozark, Mo., approved an ordinance that bans truck parking in residential zoning districts at any time and parking in all other zones from 5 p.m. through 8 a.m., peak times for the parking shortage. The only exception is for loading and unloading.
The Alabaster, Ala., city council voted 4-0 to ban trucks from parking in the city in areas that are not explicitly designated for truck parking. Apparently, citizen complaints led to the new ordinance. A $100 fine will be handed out for the first offense, $300 for the second offense and $500 for the third and subsequent offenses. The police chief told the Alabaster Reporter that tickets will be a last resort as officers will attempt to ask the drivers to move first.
Rest areas making a comeback?
Let’s wrap this up with some optimism. Surprisingly, the positive news is coming from state governments and the general public.
In California, one citizen wrote a letter to The Mercury News asking why Caltrans is shutting down rest areas for months at a time, sometimes permanently:
“I think these areas are more valuable than people assume at keeping us safe because they provide convenient opportunities for drivers to recuperate and then resume driving in a rested and focused manner,” Mark Stevens wrote in the letter to the editor.
Coincidentally, a letter to the editor at The Falmouth Enterprise echoed the sentiment of Stevens.
Lee Drescher is astounded that Massachusetts does not welcome visitors, acknowledging that “even Rhode Island is willing to open its doors to travelers.” Drescher also points out that the state doesn’t think twice when it comes to spending money on “perks and giveaways.”
“After all of the freebies we hand out, there ought to be room in the budget for someone to keep up these places and provide a little old-fashioned hospitality,” Drescher said. “Let’s find a solution, even if we have to sell something.”
In Montana, the state Department of Transportation is currently working on its U.S. 2 Rest Area Siting Study. The purpose of the study is to identify gaps in rest area service on U.S. 2 and site new facilities based on needs, according to MDT’s website.
There are 24-hour, year-round rest areas at Troy and Culbertson. Montana is looking into seven segments of the corridor spaced at approximately one-hour intervals. This is all part of Montana’s Rest Area Plan. Tip of the cap to Montana for recognizing a need that promotes safety.
Meanwhile, the North Carolina Department of Transportation held five public workshops to address truck parking. The two-hour workshops discussed truck parking challenges, issues and solutions in the Tar Heel State.
For a full year, the Federal Highway Administration has been hosting similar workshops in various states, including California, Colorado, Nevada and Pennsylvania. Several more workshops are in the planning stages in New Jersey, Florida and Louisiana.
Hopefully, these workshops are trying to identify exactly where to build more truck parking facilities rather than identifying the problem in general. The general problem of a lack of truck parking should be known to all by now. It’s time to quit asking questions and start adding new truck parking spaces to the nation’s infrastructure. LL