Truck parking part of solving supply chain issues, says Missouri task force

February 15, 2022

Ryan Witkowski

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A Missouri task force has highlighted the age-old issue of truck parking as an important piece to solving some of the state’s supply chain issues.

In a presentation to the Missouri Supply Chain Task Force on Feb. 10, Cheryl Ball, freight and waterways administrator with Missouri Department of Transportation, discussed the current state of truck parking in Missouri and the need take care of truckers.

“They are the most visible part of the supply chain – whether people are cheering them or hating them, depending on where you’re at on the road it could go either way – but they are the most visible part, and these truckers need safe, reliable places to park,” she said.

According to MoDOT, there are 10,609 truck parking spaces across the state. Of those, 9,469 are privately owned spaces, and 1,140 are publically owned. Of those publically owned spaces, 998 have restroom facilities.

“Based on the volume of trucks in our state, frankly, that is minimal,” Ball said.

The need for additional truck parking is clear, as truckers continue to find lots full and vacancies few and far between. Of the states’ 141 publically owned sites, 87 are at or above 100% utilization during the peak hour of 2-3 a.m. In addition, 23 are 80% to 100% utilized during that peak time.

“Out of those 141 sites, 110 of them are too small,” Ball said.

This isn’t the states’ first attempt to address the lack of truck parking. In April 2020, MoDOT announced overnight parking would be available to truckers at weigh stations throughout the federally declared emergency. What seemed like a viable solution to an ongoing issue hasn’t been embraced by truckers, with some fearing excessive regulation or inspections if they were to park at a scale house.

Todd Spencer, president of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association and a committee member on the task force, said more needs to be done to encourage truckers to use these facilities without fear.

“We should make it clear, in Missouri weigh stations truck parking is permitted,” Spencer told the task force. “And do all we can to dispel any myths that you’ll face the heavy hand of government if you go to sleep here.”

Only so much can be done at the state level. Because of that, Spencer says more should be done to incentivize the expansion of privately owned spaces, which make up 89% of all available parking in the state.

“Truckers would prefer parking at truck stops. We (OOIDA) in the past have been supportive of incentives for truck stops to basically expand and make more of their parking available,” Spencer said. “Now that’s easier said than done because, in so many instances, truck stops end up facing the same NIMBY syndrome that is far too common and unfortunate.”

For those in the industry, insufficient truck parking isn’t a new issue, but it has certainly been magnified during the pandemic. Providing safe and reliable places for drivers to park should be a high priority, and Ball said that finding a solution is best for everyone on the road.

“This is about safety. It is about not only driver’s safety from the truck drivers but drivers of passenger vehicles on the road,” she said. “Whenever you have tired drivers, that is not a safe thing. Truck versus car is never good for the car. You never win.”

Despite the national need for truck parking, President Biden’s Truck Action Plan – announced in November as part of the administration’s $1 trillion infrastructure bill – did nothing to address the issue. This was one of the main reasons why OOIDA did not endorse the bill.

“The legislation marks another missed opportunity for lawmakers to help truckers who have been delivering for the American people through the pandemic,” OOIDA wrote in a Nov. 8 statement. “Given how critical drivers are to the nation’s supply chain, it is frustrating to see Congress continue to treat truckers as an afterthought, especially when it comes to expanding truck parking capacity. We are disappointed neither chamber has shown any ability to pass highway bills truckers can enthusiastically support.”

This is the second meeting of the task force, which was launched in Nov. 2021 by Missouri Gov. Mike Parson to “identify specific supply chain issues facing Missouri businesses and citizens, and develop recommended solutions for implementation by public and private sectors within Missouri to address those challenges.”

The task force is co-chaired by Missouri Department of Transportation Director Patrick McKenna and Mardy Leathers of the Missouri Department of Higher Education and Workforce Development.

Members of the committee:

  • Chris Gutierrez, president, of Kansas City SmartPort Inc.
  • Mary Lamie, executive vice president of Multi Modal Enterprises at Bi-State Development.
  • Caitlin Murphy, founder and CEO of Global Gateway Logistics.
  • Dustin Quesenberry, vice president of operations, Contract Freighters Inc.
  • Todd Spencer, president of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association.

The task force is scheduled to meet again on Feb 17. Meetings are open to the public or can be streamed live. LL