Washington state parking, restroom access bills backed by WTA, OOIDA, ATA

January 17, 2022

Keith Goble

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One Washington state lawmaker is pursuing change in his state to address a national safety concern for truck drivers and the motoring public.

Rep. Dan Griffey, R-Allyn, is leading the way to make available truck parking access for professional drivers.

The Washington Trucking Associations, the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association and the American Trucking Associations are throwing their support behind the legislation. The groups say the bill should be a model for state legislatures around the country to consider.

Supply line integrity

Griffey says Washington state worsened the parking problem in the fall by closing many state-owned and operated rest areas.

“The closure of state-owned safety rest areas is contrary to state policy to have zero deaths on the roadways,” Griffey wrote in the bill.

He added that to help prevent serious and fatal injuries, HB1655 would encourage the opening of safety rest areas for all drivers who need a place to stop when they are tired.

“Safety rest areas are important for supply line integrity and the use by the traveling public.”

To address the issue, his bill would direct the Washington State Department of Transportation to keep state-owned and operated rest areas open. Exceptions would be made for seasonal closures, cleaning, maintenance, and repairs.

The state DOT would be permitted to issue short-term contracts to provide cleaning, security, or repairs to the rest areas when the department is unable to provide such services using existing employees.

The bill has 14 co-sponsors.

The House Transportation Committee is scheduled to discuss the bill on Tuesday, Jan. 18.

Truck drivers interested in testifying, please click here. Select “House,” “Transportation Committee,” “1/18/2022 3:30 pm.” Then choose “HB 1655 Safety rest areas” and the type of testimony. You can testify remotely, have your position noted for the record, or submit written testimony.

OOIDA Executive Vice President Lewie Pugh is expected to testify in support of the bill.

Tax incentives to help address truck parking need

A related bill from Rep. Griffey is intended to reduce emissions and safety risks of inadequate commercial truck parking in the state.

The bill, HB1657, would provide tax incentives to increase truck parking options around the state and at ports.

Griffey wrote in the bill that the demand for truck parking in Washington “far exceeds supply.”

“In a 2016 Washington state department of transportation survey, over 60% of truckers reported spending an hour or more per day looking for parking,” Griffey wrote. “The shortage of truck parking stifles economic growth, increases pollution, and makes our roadways less safe as fatigued drivers cannot find a safe place to park.”

He adds that a workshop of the Federal Highway Administration and the Washington State Department of Transportation found that the biggest hurdles for expanding capacity are high real estate costs and community opposition.

Tax incentives

HB1657 would add capacity through tax reductions associated with expanding existing parking and developing new parking.

Specifically, all real and personal property would be exempt from property taxes at a time when there are a minimum of 10 “safe, overnight commercial truck parking spaces constructed.”

Griffey said the bills represent an issue that he is passionate about.

“We need to do everything we can to help our truck drivers. We could not survive without the essential service they provide,” Griffey said in a news release.

Truck groups welcome pursuit

Mike Matousek, OOIDA director of state legislative affairs, said HB1657 addresses an issue that has plagued the trucking industry for decades.

“The lack of safe truck parking is a national crisis,” Matousek said. “In many parts of the country, truck drivers often have no choice but to park in locations that jeopardize their safety and the safety of the motoring public.”

He added that these problems are compounded in areas with inclement weather. He cited Interstate 90 near the city of North Bend when Snoqualmie Pass is closed.

Sheri Call, WTA president and CEO, told Land Line Media the ball got rolling on the truck parking issue out of the 2016 workshop. She said feedback received drew much-needed attention to the issue.

The truck groups say they welcome new approaches to address the issue.

“While truck stops provide roughly 90% of all truck parking capacity, it is unrealistic to expect they will solve this problem on their own,” a joint statement reads. “In some cases, local ordinances prevent the construction or expansion of truck stops where they are needed most and sometimes it simply does not make sense to add new capacity.”

Additionally, the groups are asking Griffey to make a minor change to the bill’s language that truck parking spaces be a minimum of 54 feet long and 11 feet wide.

“Unfortunately, the majority of long-haul tractor-trailers exceed those dimensions. If the goal is to provide new capacity for this segment of trucking, we would suggest more practical minimum dimensions of 70 feet long and 12 feet wide.”

HB1657 awaits consideration in the House Finance Committee.

Access to restrooms

Another bill to receive the endorsement of motor carriers and truck drivers would give truck operators more access to restrooms at retail establishments and port facilities throughout the state.

Sponsored by Rep. Mike Sells, D-Everett, HB1706 require a retail establishment to allow a common carrier delivering goods to an establishment access to a restroom during normal business hours. The bill has 21 co-sponsors.

Affected retail establishments are defined as “a place of business open to the general public for the sale of goods or services.”

TBS

Keith Goble has been covering trucking-related laws since 2000. His daily web reports, radio news and “OOIDA’s State Watch” in Land Line Magazine are the industry’s premier sources for information regarding state legislative affairs.