LARAMIE, Wyo. — On Sept. 20, Federal Highway Administrator Shailen Bhatt joined federal, state and local officials to unveil 200 new truck parking spaces along Interstate 80 near Laramie, Wyoming.
According to a statement from the U.S. Department of Transportation, these new truck parking spaces will improve safety during winter snow and ice storm operations and facilitate safe and efficient freight movement along one of the busiest Interstates in the U.S.
“Interstate 80 through Wyoming is such a critical highway for freight movement nationwide,” said Wyoming Department of Transportation (WYDOT) Director Darin Westby. “Thanks to the Federal BUILD grant, these interstate upgrades will help improve safety for truck drivers as they drive to and through the state to deliver the goods and supplies that communities depend on.”
The U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) provided $27.7 million toward the parking project, including a $20 million grant from the Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development (BUILD) grant program, which is now known as the Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity (RAISE) grant program.
In Wyoming, the I-80 Winter Freight Improvement Project includes construction of approximately 5.5 miles of passing lanes and two truck parking areas, each with 100 spaces, along I-80 between Laramie and Rawlins in southeastern Wyoming. The parking areas include Intelligent Transportation Systems improvements. According to officials, the parking areas will help improve safety and freight movement, particularly during winter snow and ice storm operations, which historically have caused long backups and serious collisions. The improvements will provide a safe area for trucks to park while allowing space for snow removal to occur along the interstate to allow operations to resume following winter snow and ice events.
During the ribbon-cutting event, Bhatt announced a new data visualization tool designed to simplify access to localized freight data, something he says will help states and local governments plan for the rise in freight transportation and movement of goods nationwide.
“Supply chain issues are critical for our economy. Truck parking shortages make our roads less safe and the movement of goods to market less efficient,” Bhatt said. “Today we’re addressing the problem on two fronts — by adding new parking capacity so truckers on I-80 have a safe place to rest and by expanding the data available on freight movement so state and local agencies can be better equipped to understand and plan for truck parking needs.”
With the transport of goods by truck on the increase, the single most-used mode of freight transport in the nation, the newly launched Freight Analysis Framework (FAF) Data Visualization Tool makes it easier to view and work with a variety of private sector freight data at national, state and local levels to understand these growth trends, the USDOT says.
The FAF tool combines data in a variety of ways, including by dollar value, tonnage, mileage, commodity and mode of transport, reflecting goods movement by truck, rail, air, water or pipeline. The tool contains historical data on freight flows back to 1997 and projections through 2050 using high- or low-freight demand scenarios. The information can be displayed as interstate or intrastate trade flows and from the state level to metro areas. Illuminating these complex freight flow patterns will enable productive dialogue among freight data users and decision makers.
Administrator Bhatt said the new tool will help aspiring grant applicants strengthen their proposals for Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) funding by filling the gap for small cities and towns and rural communities and Tribal governments that may not have experienced data experts on staff. By applying results from this tool to better understand goods movement, these non-traditional applicants can improve their planning, project prioritization, and federal funding applications to make the case for project funding.
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