OOIDA leads truck parking discussion with city leaders across the nation
November 16, 2021
Some city leaders are getting serious about truck parking, and two Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association board members are giving them an education about the national crisis.
On Monday, Nov. 15, the National League of Cities invited OOIDA Board Members Linda Allen and Tilden Curl to give some insight about truck parking during its Transportation and Infrastructure Services Federal Advocacy Committee meeting. The meeting is part of the National League of Cities’ weeklong City Summit.
Titled “Perspectives in Transportation: What America’s Truck Drivers Wish City Leaders Knew,” Allen and Curl informed city officials from across the nation about the truck parking crisis. Truck stops constantly face resistance from residents when attempting to build a new location, making the National League of Cities an ideal group to educate.
City leaders eager to address truck parking
The response from city leaders attending the meeting was mixed, but mostly positive.
A Centennial, Colo., council member recognized the truck parking problem years ago. She is happy to see it is finally getting some attention. Previously a project engineer and Colorado Department of Transportation employee, Tammy Maurer recalled an I-70 project that required her to close a large truck stop.
“It was like I was the only one that was concerned,” Maurer said. “Where are the trucks going to go now?”
Upon further investigation, Maurer discovered that the entire state was facing the same problem. She implores other city leaders to address truck parking.
“We really need to take a stand and kind of work and help that industry,” Maurer said.
Theresa Lafer, a State College, Pa., council member, agreed. Lafer pointed out that city leaders are still not talking about truck parking. She encouraged all city leaders to throw truck parking into all of their discussions.
Lafer also explained that city officials need to know the truck parking situation in their region.
Knowing where the city lies in the context of a larger area can help local policymakers better assess their role in finding a solution.
Accordingly, metropolitan and rural planning organizations need to discuss truck parking more.
“Nobody’s talking about it,” Lafer said. “Nobody’s seeing anything except the folks on the street when they come to fill or empty the truck in town. We need to go beyond that. I think (Maurer) is right. We need to make this part of the local conversation.”
Even a council member in Kansas City, a major transportation hub, reported never having heard of the truck parking crisis.
On the other hand, Doraville, Ga., Mayor Joseph Geierman said there are two sides to the story. Although the committee heard the truck parking perspective of two truck drivers, Geierman said there might be other voices that need to be heard on the matter. More realistically, the mayor acknowledged the need for truck parking but also recognized that nobody wants it in their backyard. Geierman agreed that the issue requires a regional approach.
Trucking is ‘a hard life’
“It’s a hard life,” Allen told the committee. “It’s a good life, but it’s a hard life. Some of the things that are hard don’t necessarily have to be hard. Finding parking, it’s a big job every day.”
That was what Allen told the committee before getting into the specifics of truck parking. Allen and Curl spent about 20 minutes telling the committee how the truck parking situation looks like from behind steering wheel.
Allen told city leaders about the struggle to find parking at home. She parks her truck a few miles away from her residence at a facility without water. To clean her truck, Allen takes it home. She has already received at least one citation for having a truck on her driveway. Allen had to go to her local board of commissioners looking for a variance or exemption.
Curl told the committee one avenue to explore is mandating truck parking for new industrial developments. Specifically, a policy similar to the Americans with Disabilities Act’s requirement for a certain amount accessible spaces based on the total amount of parking spaces.
Another popular solution for cities is to convert vacant lots to truck parking lots. Cities across the country have done exactly that, including Elmira, N.Y., and Weed, Calif.
Curl painted a real-life picture of a trucker’s typical day to highlight how truck parking is good for the local and national economy.
If a driver cannot find a parking space, he or she might have to park 50 miles away from the city they are delivering to the next morning. That means sitting in rush hour traffic and potentially hours of detention time. By the time the truck is unloaded, the driver is out of hours and forced to park somewhere in the city.
“What happens is when there’s parking being provided, you become a provider of choice,” Curl said.
By simply adding truck parking, Curl explained, trucking operations are sped up. Consequently, rates can be cheaper which means consumer products can be cheaper.
Curl also addressed common stereotypes used by the vocal not-in-my-backyard crowd when opposing a proposed truck stop.
“Ther are a lot of fallacies that we bring in drugs and all sorts of other nefarious activities,” Curl said. “That’s not the case. By and large, it is simply not the case. We want to be partners with you and your success. But we hope that you can be partners with us in our success as well.” LL