Truck parking ignored in Senate committee’s proposed highway bill
May 24, 2021
Despite pleas from stakeholders and many conversations in Congress, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee’s highway bill proposal fails to address truck parking in a meaningful way.
That’s the message the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association is conveying to its members via a press release offering a rebuke of a Senate Committee’s funding proposal, which includes $250 million for removing invasive weeds on highways, but zero dollars to build new truck parking.
On May 22, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee released what it hails as a bipartisan surface transportation reauthorization bill. At nearly 550 pages, nowhere is funding for truck parking capacity found despite many in Congress on both sides of the aisle recognizing the crisis during hearings and a major push by most stakeholders.
While the OOIDA rallies to get more support to the bipartisan truck parking bill, HR2187, the Association expressed disappointment in the EPW’s failure to address truck parking.
“Washington has again missed an easy and obvious opportunity to address the truck parking crisis,” OOIDA President Todd Spencer said in a statement. “While we appreciate the bipartisan commitment to increase overall funding for highways, the lack of dedicated federal funding for truck parking is a glaring omission in this proposal.”
In a news release, OOIDA points out that the committee allocates billions of dollars for transportation issues like alternative fuels, charging infrastructure and eliminating emissions from trucks at port facilities.
Additionally, the proposed reauthorization bill sets aside $250 million to get rid of invasive plants from highway right-of-ways while at the same time completely ignoring funding for truck parking capacity.
Spencer said that signals that the Senate committee “considers weeds a bigger priority than truckers in the next highway bill.”
The committee’s Surface Transportation Reauthorization Act of 2021 is on schedule for a markup hearing on Wednesday, May 26. Meanwhile, a broader infrastructure bill is still in the negotiation phase between Democrats and Republicans.
“It’s incredibly frustrating to see the committee has authorized billions of dollars for new programs, but they couldn’t set aside a single penny to fix a well-documented and worsening safety concern that affects millions of truckers on a daily basis. WTF?” Spencer said. “Truckers pay more than their fair share into the Highway Trust Fund, yet their top legislative priority continues to be ignored in favor of other highway users, including those who don’t even pay into the system. They can’t even compete with plants for federal transportation funding.”
At the House, Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure chairman Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., said on Feb. 10 he would “meaningfully address” truck parking in the then pending highway bill.
DeFazio referenced a conversation with Spencer during a markup hearing for the committee’s portion of President Joe Biden’s COVID-19 relief proposal, after Rep. Mike Bost, R-Ill., introduced an amendment to the package that directly addresses truck parking.
“I had a long talk with Todd Spencer with OOIDA last week,” DeFazio said to Bost. “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), and I’ll be happy to work with you on that where we can access the Highway Trust Fund and dedicate some dollars to it.”
Meanwhile, the standalone Truck Parking Safety Improvement Act, or HR2187, continues to gain bipartisan support with 23 cosponsors as of May 24. Cosponsors include a Democrat from California and a Republican in New York. OOIDA encourages stakeholders to reach out to their representatives not already supporting the bill. Contact information for congressional representatives can be found at FightingForTruckers.com. LL