The Parking Zone - May 2020

COVID-19 pandemic highlights truck parking shortage

May 2020

Tyson Fisher

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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, ranging from proposed legislation regarding fines to new truck stops.

 To say a lot has happened in the world of truck parking since the last issue of Land Line would be a huge understatement. COVID-19 exposed the gaping holes in the nation’s truck parking infrastructure and highlighted how unprepared some states are with dealing with the situation.

Truck parking response gone horribly wrong

Leading the way is the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation. PennDOT’s immediate response to the pandemic was not to help truckers but to exacerbate the parking problem. PennDOT shut down all 30 rest areas during the beginning of the panic. As of early April, Pennsylvania had reopened all but two rest areas. The change of heart came after receiving loud opposition from OOIDA and others in the trucking industry.

Communities come together for truckers

Perhaps the silver lining of all this chaos is that there seemed to be much more good news than bad when it comes to truck parking. People and businesses stepped up to the plate in a big way.

In Woodland, Wash., the Woodland High School near Interstate 5 opened up its parking lot and showers to truck drivers.

In Westport, N.Y., Leesa Marin from the Hilltop Motel off of Interstate 87 posted this on Facebook: “If any truckers are in need of a place to pull their truck in and sleep around Exit 31, my parking lot is open. Also if you guys need a place to shower I have that available too. And for those who don’t have sleepers, I have rooms available as long as the law will let me.”

Ray Singer, owner of a shop in Kinston, N.C., off of Highway 70 posted this: “Any trucker that needs to rest or eat, you are welcome to stop, just give me a call … and I will come there and let you in. I have restrooms. No shower, sorry. This is the time we all need to stand together to keep America great like we know it is and not try to take advantage of others. I’m just trying to do my part like God expects us to because I know he is in control of everything and we will get through this together. God bless and be safe. Come see us.”

Sometimes, bad events bring out the best in humanity.

Reports of trucks being towed

There were rumors that the New York City Police Department was towing illegally parked trucks during the pandemic. These rumors were true, but they deserve some context.

A now-deleted tweet from the NYPD 66th precinct showed the department towing illegally parked trucks on March 20. Many found this to be a predatory move that was punishing the men and women putting their health on the line to deliver essential freight. The NYPD’s Office of the Deputy Commissioner, Public Information sent Land Line the following statement about the tweet:

“In the past 12 months, the 66th Precinct has received more than a one hundred 911 and 311 calls of complaints involving tractor-trailers illegally parking in a residential area located in the area surrounding Washington Cemetery. These are community complaints. On Friday, March 20, 2020, police observed four commercial tractor trailers parked along Bay Parkway and McDonald Avenue. The vehicles did not have trailers connected and the license plates attached did not match the registrations. More than three hours later, officers returned and the trucks were towed from the location.”

When asked whether or not officers asked truckers if they were hauling for essential business as defined by COVID-19 executive orders and why the tweet was deleted, DCPI only repeated, “The vehicles did not have trailers connected and the license plates attached did not match the registrations.”

This appears to have been legitimate parking enforcement. Sure, the timing was not great for optics. On the other hand, there is a fine line between needing some leeway and taking advantage of a situation.

If you’re hauling a relief load and find yourself in a compromising situation when it comes to parking, call local law enforcement. Let’s hope they will be more than happy to accommodate a trucker supporting relief efforts.

There were other social media posts by truck drivers calling out local law enforcement, tow services or companies for not allowing them to park at a particular lot. Again, the job of the police is to enforce laws. If they get a complaint, they have to follow through and enforce any parking ordinance that has not been lifted. 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.