The issue of truck parking — or a lack thereof — has been getting a lot of attention from the U.S. government lately.
According to data from the Truckload Carriers Association, there is just one truck parking space for every 11 drivers.
A U.S. Department of Transportation report found 98% of drivers regularly experience problems finding safe parking. Studies by the American Transportation Research Institute have found that drivers surrender an average of 56 minutes of valuable drive time per day to find parking, directly costing them about $5,500 in lost compensation — or a 12% cut in annual pay.
But help seems to be on the way from the federal government, which has pledged to tackle the issue head on.
Earlier this year, U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg announced that more than $2.2 billion from the RAISE discretionary grant program will go to 162 different infrastructure projects across the country. The funding includes $28 million for truck parking projects.
The RAISE grant program, expanded under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, supports communities of all sizes, with half of the funding going to rural areas and the other half to urban areas.
“Using the funds in President Biden’s infrastructure law, we are helping communities in every state across the country realize their visions for new infrastructure projects,” Buttigieg said. “This round of RAISE grants is helping create a new generation of good-paying jobs in rural and urban communities alike, with projects whose benefits will include improving safety, fighting climate change, advancing equity, strengthening our supply chain, and more.”
Truck parking projects funded under the RAISE program include:
- Caldwell Parish, Louisiana: $10.5 million has been allocated to purchase land and build a truck parking facility near the inland Port of Columbia, Ouachita River, and state Highway 165. This will include parking for about 50 commercial trucks and 100 cars, as well as 12 electric vehicle charging stations.
- Caldwell County, Texas: $9 million has been earmarked for the design and construction of a parking plaza at the intersection of State Highway 130 and the San Marcos Highway/State Highway 80. The plaza will offer about 20 short-term and 100 long-term truck parking spaces. The project also will have entry/exit gate control, lighting, fencing, 24-hour monitored security, and a rest stop with restrooms, showers, and other amenities.
- Wayne County, Michigan: $8.5 million will go toward the “Truck Stop of the Future” Initiative. The project will include electric vehicle charging infrastructure in Redford, Michigan, for Class 1-8 vehicles. The project will include multiple DC fast chargers, solar canopies, and battery energy storage systems.
These allocations followed actions by the U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee in May, when the group passed five bills that directly impact the trucking industry — including one designed to improve parking for commercial drivers.
HR2367, the “Truck Parking Improvement Act,” was introduced by Rep. Mike Bost (R-IL). The bill provides for the construction of commercial motor vehicle parking at both existing and new parking areas. Perhaps more importantly, it requires these parking spaces be accessible to all commercial motor vehicles at no cost.
“I grew up in a family trucking business,” Bost said. “I understand how difficult, and oftentimes dangerous, it can be when America’s truckers are forced to park in an unsafe location.”
The bill, which establishes a $755 million grant program for truck parking expansion, passed out of committee on a 60-4 vote.
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration Administrator Robin Hutcheson says she realizes the perilous situation many drivers are faced with when it comes to finding a place to shut down and get some rest.
“One of the leading causes of truck crashes is driver fatigue,” she said. “It is clear that adequate rest for drivers is foundational for safe operations. We have heard loud and clear from drivers. They need more places to rest, and they need to be safe and secure while doing so.”
Robinson said the agency and other federal offices “are proactively working at the local and regional level to point to the numerous resources across USDOT for truck parking construction, expansion, and technology solutions, and we will continue to work collaboratively with agencies within USDOT and with all of our partners in the industry.”
Other efforts around the nation to expand truck parking include a new 84-space lot along Interstate 40 in West Memphis, Arkansas. The Arkansas Department of Transportation estimates that more than 20,000 commercial trucks pass through the area daily.
In 2013, Arkansas’s trucking industry lobbied for a 15% increase in its own registration fees, in part to fund the Arkansas Commercial Truck Safety and Education Program. This program has afforded projects like the West Memphis parking expansion, according to an Arkansas Trucking Association news release.
In Arizona, the Sunset Point Rest Area along Interstate 17 is now open after the completion of a $7.5 million project developed by the Arizona Department of Transportation. The project added additional truck parking in addition to upgrades to the facility’s restrooms, water, and septic systems.
In Nevada, truck parking enhancements are part of a new plan by Nevada’s Transportation Board to improve safety on and near the state’s highways.
Also in Nevada, a startup company focused on truck parking is on an ambitious journey to create nearly a million parking spots around the country over the next seven years. Nashville, Tennessee-based We Realize Inc. (Realize) has opened its first location at the Last Vegas Motor Speedway (LVMS).
Realize operates 74 truck parking spots at LVMS, located at the intersection of Speedway Boulevard and Interstate 15, offering truck drivers a safe place to park or store their cargo overnight. The facilities also feature real-time inventory, rate visibility, and online booking so drivers can reserve daily or monthly parking in advance, according to a news release.
“With more than 3.5 million drivers competing for less than 300,000 parking spots daily, Realize is focused on providing convenient, safe and amenity-forward solutions to the truck parking crisis in an effort to improve supply chain efficiency and most importantly, driver well-being,” said Cody Horchak, founder and CEO of Realize.
Meanwhile, trucking industry stalwart Love’s Travel Stops is planning major expansion work during the remainder of 2023, adding 25 new stores and more truck parking spaces. Already in 2023, Love’s has opened several new stores with hundreds of new spaces for drivers across the nation.
Other major truck stop chains, such as Pilot and Travel Centers of America, are also adding new stores with more parking spots for big rigs.
Born in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, and raised in East Texas, John Worthen returned to his home state to attend college in 1998 and decided to make his life in The Natural State. Worthen is a 20-year veteran of the journalism industry and has covered just about every topic there is. He has a passion for writing and telling stories. He has worked as a beat reporter and bureau chief for a statewide newspaper and as managing editor of a regional newspaper in Arkansas. Additionally, Worthen has been a prolific freelance journalist for two decades, and has been published in several travel magazines and on travel websites.