NATSO on Dec. 12 recommended that the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDot) explore ways to lower the private sector’s costs in creating or expanding truck parking capacity while refraining from undercutting such efforts by subjecting private truck parking providers to additional competitive or regulatory obstacles.
The comments were filed in response to PennDOT’s Request For Information (RFI) regarding commercial truck parking.
In its RFI, PennDOT said it was seeking private-sector feedback on the development, design, construction, implementation, maintenance, operation and commercialization of truck parking facilities. The agency also said that it aimed to collect input on how the commonwealth can assist local governments with considering truck parking in their plans and zoning regulations and how the private sector can be encouraged to participate in any potential truck parking public-private partnership projects.
"PennDOT should harness the collective widsom and expertise that private travel centers can provide to increase truck parking capacity in the state," NATSO Vice President of Public Affairs Tiffany Wlazlowski Neuman said in the comments. "Any initiative should center around improving the incentives for private companies to invest more money in truck parking capacity."
In her comments, Wlazlowski Neuman said that as providers of 90 percent of the truck parking capacity in the United States, truckstops and travel plazas play a key role in addressing any concerns over truck parking capacity. In the association’s decades of experience working with policymakers on these issues, however, there oftentimes is a fundamental misunderstanding of the private sector’s motivations for investing in truck parking capacity , which can result in policies that can counterproductively discourage companies that otherwise would be inclined to make such investments. NATSO's comments were designed to help PennDOT avoid such a result.
Specifically, NATSO cited the negative correlation between commercialized rest areas and truck parking capacity. A report conducted by Dr. Ronald Knipling of Safety for the Long Haul Inc. found 69 percent more truck parking spaces per mile along interstate highways where the private sector caters to the needs of the traveling public free from government competition at commercial rest areas.
The association also highlighted the difficulties of navigating conflicting public policies regarding truck parking between the federal, state and local governments. The U.S. Department of Transportation, for example, has made truck parking capacity a top agenda item, launching a National Coalition on Truck Parking, of which NATSO is an active stakeholder. Yet many local governments act to keep trucks outside of their borders by way of truck route restrictions or other zoning requirements. Truckstops also face significant opposition from local residents.
Such obstacles frequently preclude the private sector from advancing a project that would otherwise have added truck parking capacity to an area.
Wlazlowski Neuman also urged the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation to participate in the Park My Truck app, launched by NATSO in conjunction with American Trucking Associations (ATA) and the American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) to help truck drivers find available truck parking capacity.
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