The National Coalition on Truck Parking, of which NATSO is a core partner, recently held its annual meeting, during which each of the coalition’s four working groups discussed various ideas and initiatives aimed at expanding truck parking capacity.
For the past year, NATSO’s Vice President of Public Affairs Tiffany Wlazlowski Neuman has served on the coalition’s funding and finance working group, which was tasked with identifying innovative ways to leverage existing truck parking capacity. Additional working groups focused on capacity expansion, technology and data as well as government coordination and planning.
FHWA established the working groups after releasing its National Coalition on Truck Parking 2015-2016 activity report that detailed ideas put forth for expanding truck parking nationwide during a series of regional truck parking stakeholder meetings. NATSO and some of its members participated in those meetings, which took place across the United States.
The December 2018 annual meeting included an overview of products developed by each of the working groups during the year, updates from states, Metropolitan Planning Organizations and the coalition’s core partners, including NATSO. Ideas for future coalition activities also were discussed. Coalition partners include NATSO, the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance, American Trucking Associations and the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association.
In 2018, the funding and finance working group sought to flesh out existing examples of non-traditional agreements that ultimately resulted in additional truck parking capacity. Chief among those were examples of state-constructed public truck parking lots adjacent to or in close proximity to existing truckstops. Such arrangements, which in some cases were formal and others very informal, in certain instances allowed states to convert existing property to truck parking while still allowing drivers to take advantage of the amenities offered at truckstops, such as restrooms, showers and food.
The group also explored the Department of Transportation’s Interstate Oasis Program, which allows states to partner with private operators who meet the minimum criteria to provide basic services to drivers in exchange for online highway signing and official designation as an Interstate Oasis.
At the annual meeting, NATSO’s Wlazlowski Neuman also urged state Departments of Transportation to participate in Park My Truck, a mobile app launched in conjunction with the American Trucking Associations (ATA) and the American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) to help truck drivers find available truck parking capacity.
Wlazlowski Neuman said that the success of the app hinged on all truck parking providers listing and updating their available truck parking capacity.
NATSO continues to urge the Federal and state Departments of Transportation to explore ways to lower the private sector's costs in creating and/or expanding truck parking capacity such as through tax incentives or land acquisition assistance while refraining from undercutting any such efforts by subjecting private truck parking providers to additional competitive or regulatory obstacles, including government-sponsored competition at Interstate rest areas.
NATSO has also urged the U.S. Department of Transportation to consider the effects that any policy changes (such as changes to truck driver Hours-of-Service regulations) will have on truck parking.
Since the coalition was formed, NATSO has promoted the development of additional truck parking capacity through contractual relationships between private truckstop operators and trucking firms, similar to existing fuel contracts and urged the exploration of the use of tax incentives for the private sector to build new parking capacity. NATSO continues to remind DOT and stakeholders that commercial rest areas have a negative effect on truck parking.
DOT kicked off a national dialogue between the government and industry stakeholders on truck parking in late 2015 after releasing a federally mandated survey of truck parking volume and capacity in the United States titled “Jason’s Law Truck Parking Survey Results and Comparative Analysis.” DOT is currently in the process of updating that survey as required by law.
The highway authorization law signed in 2012, MAP-21, allocated more funding for truck parking under a section titled “Jason’s Law.” The law also required DOT to assess the volume of truck parking in each state and develop a system of metrics to measure the adequacy of truck parking on a periodic basis.
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