NATSO President and CEO Lisa Mullings highlighted the private sector’s role in providing the vast majority of truck parking nationwide and urged State Departments of Transportation to work with the private sector to address any truck parking concerns.
The comments were made during a truck parking workshop hosted by the Federal Highway Administration and the New Jersey Transportation Planning Authority Sept. 10 that brought together more than 100 private and public sector individuals, primarily from regional and local government agencies in Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.
Mullings discussed the negative correlation between commercial rest areas and truck parking as well as the need for fleets to incorporate truck parking into their contractual negotiations with truckstops and travel plazas.
Mullings was joined on the panel by Darrin Roth, Vice President of Highway Policy for the American Trucking Associations, Thomas Weakley from the Owner Operator Independent Drivers Association, Ellen Voie, President and Chief Executive Officer of Women in Trucking, and Stefano Pascucci, Executive Vice President of Business Development for the JFK International Airport.
Citing the NATSO Foundation’s 2018 “Rest Area Commercialization and Truck Parking Capacity” study, Mullings said that non-commercialized interstate corridors have 6.57 truck parking spaces per mile, or 69 percent more than the 3.88 spaces per mile on commercialized interstate segments.
“There are a lot of commercial rest areas in your part of the country and they provide less truck parking than private truckstops, so in your part of the country there are fewer truck parking spaces,” Mullings said during the panel. “That is something the northeast has to grapple with.”
Currently federal law prohibits states from selling food, fuel and other commercial services at Interstate rest areas. However, a handful of states, primarily located in the Northeast, have commercial rest areas that pre-date the federal prohibition.
Although the public sector is an important part of the truck parking discussion, Mullings said that 9 in 10 spaces are provided by the private sector. David Rosenberg with the New York State Department of Transportation said that New York state, for example, has 6,000 truck parking spaces and 75 percent of those are provided by the private sector.
The private sector can build and maintain truck parking more quickly and less expensively than the public sector, but Mullings said motor carriers need to prioritize truck parking in their contract negotiations similar to the way they negotiate for fuel.
“We respond to the market,” Mullings said. “We need to change the thinking on behalf of trucking companies [so] that this is an issue that they care about enough to make it part of their negotiations. They will move to another fuel location over a half a cent price difference in a gallon of fuel. … Surveys show truck parking is important to them, but we haven’t seen that in their negotiations.”
FHWA began hosting state-specific truck parking workshops several years ago. The Sept. 10 workshop represented the first multi-state workshop hosted by the agency.
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