The cost of losing a truck stop

January 3, 2018

Tyson Fisher

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While some states are moving forward addressing the truck parking problem, other states are taking a step backward. The latest example of the latter involves the Virginia Department of Transportation, a TravelCenters of America truck stop and eminent domain.

This is not exactly new information. TA closed its location off of I-81 in Troutville, Va., back in November 2014. This was a result of VDOT evoking eminent domain to redesign and improve highway ramps at the interchange. The truck stop was demolished in 2015.

Land Line reported on this at the time, pointing out that 129 truck parking spots were eliminated as a result. However, it was not known back then whether or not TA would relocate to a nearby area. Now, we know.

According to TA spokesman Tom Liutkus, the truck stop company will not relocate the Troutville TA, officially eliminating 129 truck parking spots.

We also know that VDOT agreed to pay TA $7.2 million, approximately $1 million more than the original offer. That’s the latest news of multi-year legal saga between VDOT and TA, effectively putting it to an end.

According to The Roanoke Times, this is the largest settlement for eminent domain cases to obtain property for the Exit 150 project.

Another way to look at this is to say that VDOT places the value of truck parking at one location at more than $7 million dollars. However, the actual value could be exponentially more.

According to the Iowa Department of Transportation, every 15-minute search for parking by truck drivers costs the economy $4.4 billion annually.

Even if that stat is off by more than half, eliminating 129 truck parking spots at a truck stop that has been around for more than 40 years can cost the economy billions of dollars over time. The value of a truck stop goes beyond revenue for the business. One strategically placed truck stop can save the economy billions of dollars.

I’m not criticizing VDOT for taking down a truck stop to revamp a highway. They have legitimate reasons to do so:

And one cannot criticize TA for choosing not to relocate. If there was a profitable alternative, they would likely jump on the opportunity.

The problem here is that state and local governments are not taking truck parking seriously when moving forward with projects such as this I-81 Exit 150 interchange. Anytime truck parking is affected, planners should find a way to make up for any losses.

Eliminating truck parking is not just a matter of convenience for truckers. It is a matter of time and money, and their time and money trickle down to the consumer. At a larger scale, Americans are paying billions of dollars for every truck stop that closes. This is the mentality we need to have moving forward.

Lucas Oil

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.