The Spirit starts a four-stop tour of Florida in Baldwin

April 17, 2019

Chuck Robinson


The next stop for OOIDA’s touring tractor-trailer in Baldwin, Fla., is the first of four scheduled stops in the Sunshine State.

Jon Osburn, skipper of the Spirit of the American Trucker, plans to be at the Baldwin TA Travel Center on Thursday through Sunday, April 18-21.

Look for The Spirit at the TA Travel Center at the intersection of U.S. Highway 301 and Interstate 10. It is Exit 343 from I-10.

The Baldwin TA has 90 truck parking spots. Jon’s canine co-pilot, Sassi, will be glad to know there is a pet area there. Nearby, the Baldwin Pilot truck stop has 50 more truck parking spaces and 10 reserved parking spaces.

After Baldwin, The Spirit’s spring Florida tour takes Jon and The Spirit to Vero Beach, Wildwood and Marianna.

Florida DOT is constructing a bypass in the vicinity of I-10/U.S. 301. Lanes are being added to alleviate traffic congestion caused by the volume of commercial vehicles and two railroad crossings. The $60 million project began in 2017. According to the Florida DOT, the I-10/U.S. 301 interchange improvement project is still on schedule for completion in February 2020.

Watch for orange barrels and know that there are new traffic patterns in place.

The town of Baldwin is about 20 miles west of Jacksonville, Fla. In 1986, several communities neighboring Baldwin in Duval County merged with the city of Jacksonville, but not Baldwin.

The city began with the name of Thigpen, named for the owner of a tavern serving a stagecoach line there. When the first railroad came to the town, however, the name changed to commemorate the president of the Florida, Atlantic and Gulf Central Railroad.

There used to be four railroads with termini in Baldwin. CSX has acquired all of them.

Interstate10 is also known as the Christopher Columbus Transcontinental Highway. It connects Santa Monica, Calif., and California Route 1 with Jacksonville and Interstate 95. I-10 is one of three coast-to-coast interstate highways. The other two are I-80 and I-90.

The stop before Baldwin was in Cartersville, Ga., where Jon says people were in remarkably good moods, perhaps because of the perfect spring weather, neither too hot nor too cold. There was one question top of mind for drivers he talked to, he said.

“They asked, ‘Do you really think they are going to do something with hours of service or are they just blowing smoke again?’” Jon said.

The prospect for real change with hours of service is being taken seriously at OOIDA.

Last month, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao described the current hours-of-service regulations as “inflexible” during a U.S. Senate subcommittee hearing.

“Well, this is what happens when there’s a one-size-fits-all solution – it doesn’t work across the country because our country is so diverse,” Chao said during the hearing.

Then at MATS 2019 at the end of March in Louisville, Ky., Secretary Chao told the drivers there that a proposal for changing hours of service regulations had been sent to the White House Office of Management and Budget for review.

With that, there is reason to be cautiously optimistic.

Whenever you see The Spirit tour truck, go say hello to Jon. He enjoys visiting about the Association’s activities and current issues. You also can join or renew your OOIDA membership for $10 off the regular price there. Also, you can get vouchers for flu, shingles and pneumonia vaccines from Jon at The Spirit.