Truck parking a ‘very serious problem’
March 24, 2021
The lack of truck parking is a “serious problem” that some are only beginning to wake up to, the executive director of the Atlanta Regional Commission told the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation.
As part of the Wednesday, March 24, hearing titled “Driving the Road to Recovery: Rebuilding America’s Transportation Infrastructure,” Douglas Hooker testified about the lack of truck parking in the Atlanta region and throughout the United States.
“Most interstate commerce corridors in our region suffer from truck parking shortages, with this shortage forecast to worsen in the future,” Hooker wrote. “To support the nation’s interstate commerce, the trucking industry needs safe and accessible parking. We ask that you keep these critical truck parking considerations on the agenda for your committee. Safe and accessible truck parking is not just a local issue. The needs cross state boundaries. A national program is needed that focuses on interstate commerce corridors and addresses the unmet needs for safe and accessible truck parking.”
More than just an inconvenience
Sen. Deb Fischer, R-Neb., asked Hooker about the ARC truck parking study and noted that the lack of truck parking isn’t only an inconvenience but a safety issue for the nation’s truck drivers.
“Our study identified that we lacked a great deal of truck parking in our metro area,” Hooker said. “Unfortunately, most of our truck parking is outside of the bounds of the metro region, which means that truckers have to make a decision very early on whether they’re going to stop outside of the region even though their delivery is inside the region or whether they will have the time to make it through the congestion and get there on time.”
Hooker also noted that the hours-of-service regulations mean that truck drivers are working on a ticking clock. The inflexible regulation can leave truckers with the decision to park in an unsafe location or risk being noncompliant.
“A lot of times even the places they have to deliver to won’t let them stay there very long or overnight,” Hooker said. “So it’s a very tough problem for our truck drivers who are trying to provide us an essential service. I think, as a whole, our nation is only beginning to wake up to a very serious problem that we have.”
Video of the hearing and links to the written testimony can be found here.
Truck parking bill
The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association has been pushing for federal funding to address the truck parking crisis.
In 2020, Reps. Mike Bost, R-Ill., and Angie Craig, D-Minn., introduced the Truck Parking Safety Improvement Act, which would authorize $755 million for truck parking over five years.
The bill is expected to be reintroduced soon in the 117th Congress.
In addition, the need for truck parking funding has caught the eye of the chair of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure.
In February, Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., promised to “meaningfully address” truck parking in the pending highway bill after discussing the issue with OOIDA President Todd Spencer.
“I had a long talk with Todd Spencer of OOIDA last week,” DeFazio said during the House markup hearing in February. “We delved into many issues, but one of the most prominent issues was truck parking. I promised him that we would meaningfully address that issue in (the highway bill).”
Before the start of the infrastructure hearing, the Senate committee voted 24-4 to advance the nomination of Polly Trottenberg as deputy secretary of the U.S. Department of Transportation.
Trottenberg now advances to final confirmation by the full Senate, which is expected to be in the next couple of weeks.
She served as commissioner of the New York City Department of Transportation from 2014 to 2020.
Earlier this month, she testified in front of the Senate committee and showed that she recognized the difference between a driver shortage and a driver retention problem.
Infrastructure will again be in the spotlight as the House T&I Committee will have a hearing titled “The Administration’s Priorities for Transportation Infrastructure” on Thursday, March 25.
Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg is scheduled to testify.
“Secretary Buttigieg’s appearance before the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee couldn’t come at a more consequential time,” DeFazio said in a news release. “Right now, our committee is working on the details of transformational surface transportation reauthorization legislation that I intend to move through our committee later this spring as part of the broader infrastructure push.” LL
Land Line’s Tyson Fisher contributed to this report.