The Parking Zone – November 2019
Truck parking projects in limbo
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.
Since the last Parking Zone, there has been plenty of truck parking news. However, the news was neither good nor bad. It was several weeks of municipalities kicking the can down the road when it comes to the issue.
For example, in Williamsport, Md., the city cannot determine whether or not a proposed gas station is a “truck stop” based on zoning laws. A court determined it’s a truck stop in February, but the developers appealed. However, that appeal won’t be heard until next February, an entire year later.
In Adairsville, Ga., a lot that was once a travel plaza has been vacant for five years. Even though it used to be a travel plaza, a developer who wants to build a truck stop there is getting resistance from the city because it changed the zoning laws since the lot has been empty. Five years of nothing, and the city might deny getting the same thing.
Construction for a new Love’s Travel Stop in Coffee County, Tenn., was scheduled for spring – of 2018. A year and a half later and nothing has happened yet. A Love’s spokesperson told Land Line that the company hopes to begin construction in a few months. We’ll see.
Milton, Wis., cannot make up its mind what to do with a proposed truck parking ban ordinance. Already having gone through three discussions on the matter, the city council is poised for a third reading of a newly revised ordinance. One version makes an exception with trucks without trailers to be parked at home. However, the city now wants to keep cabs included in the ban. Hopefully, they will keep punting the issue for a long time. (Editors note: At press time, Milton passed the latter version. Check next month’s Parking Zone for more on that story.)
Love’s Travel Stops has been trying to get a new location in Ramsay, Mont., for quite some time. Although it got the city’s blessing despite vocal opposition, Love’s still has to go through a bunch of regulatory red tape before it can even think about construction. Having dodged a large bullet from the NIMBY crowd, Love’s now has to undergo an environmental assessment, which opposing citizens are trying to use to derail the entire project. Even if it survives that, Love’s has to submit plans to the Montana Department of Transportation to ensure that everything is kosher regarding traffic in and out of the truck stop.
Municipalities giving the green light
Not every town in America tries to hit the brakes when a new truck stop wants to set up shop. There are plenty of towns, mostly rural, that embrace a truck stop with open arms. These towns typically understand the economic boom it will receive while recognizing that truck stops are not the cesspool some people want to believe.
The Sweetwater County Commission unanimously approved a conditional-use permit for Love’s in Green River, Wyo. Although the new truck stop has received government approval and public acceptance, it was not met without NIMBY resistance. According to the Wyoming Business Report, a petition with more than 50 signatures opposed the plan. However, it seems those in favor outnumbered the naysayers. Construction is slated for next April. When complete, the truck stop will be near the Covered Wagon Road exit off of Interstate 80.
Bellefontaine, Ohio, appears poised to open a new truck stop. Details are limited, but the city council approved of a rezoning request for a piece of land near state Route 540 and U.S. Route 33. Truck stops often cannot even get that much from a council. Approving a rezoning request signals that the city is open to the idea. This appears to be early in the planning stages, so it may be a while before we hear anything substantial. The Parking Zone will keep you informed.
A lot of news tips come directly from you, the readers. In this case, BamBam the Trucker has tipped us off to a new Pilot Flying J location being built in Ellensburg, Wash.
Federal government still seeking information
The federal government is continuing its never-ending quest for information regarding truck parking. This year, the Federal Highway Administration played host to several workshops throughout the nation. These events are a way for the government to get a clearer picture of the issue.
FHWA sponsored three more in Kentucky, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. We really don’t know what all was said during those workshops, but I think we can all make a pretty good educated guess considering nothing has changed since Jason’s Law survey results were released four years ago. Whatever truckers were telling the feds five years ago during the survey period is likely still relevant today.
Collection of information is still not complete. FHWA is planning for more workshops. Florida, Louisiana and Rhode Island are all discussing workshop plans.
New Big Three locations
In September alone all of the Big Three truck stops – Love’s, Pilot Flying J and TravelCenters of America – opened new locations throughout the country. In total, they added more than 300 truck parking spaces to the infrastructure:
- TA Express at 27638 U.S. Highway 385 (intersection of U.S. Highway 18) in Hot Springs, S.D. (70 truck parking spaces).
- PFJ at 104 W. Trefz Drive (off of Interstate 70) in Marshall, Ill. (64 spaces).
- Love’s at 437071 E. 310 Road (off of Interstate 44) in Big Cabin, Okla. (79 spaces).
- Love’s at 100 E. Commerce Court (off of Interstate 43) in Elkhorn, Wis. (102 spaces). LL