Last week, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg led an event in South Dakota to tout $80 million in grants that included funding to add about a dozen truck parking spots along Interstate 90.
While acknowledging the success, Rep. Mike Bost, R-Ill., told Buttigieg that more needs to be done to add physical truck parking spots across the nation.
“There’s been nothing substantial to expand new truck parking locations, so the problem still exists,” Bost said.
The congressman’s comments on Wednesday, Sept. 20 came as part of a House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee hearing titled, “Oversight of the Department of Transportation’s Policies and Programs.”
With Buttigieg serving as the hearing’s lone witness, Bost used the opportunity to encourage the DOT to focus more on the creation of parking and less on technology to tell truck drivers if there’s an open spot.
The truck parking crisis across the nation has been well documented. The 2019 Jason’s Law Report found that 98% of drivers regularly experience problems finding safe parking. According to the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association and the American Trucking Associations, there is only one truck parking space for every 11 truckers nationwide.
Bost was critical of funding being used for information technology systems at truck stops rather than for additional parking.
Buttigieg said that the DOT is trying to add truck parking while also increasing the efficiency of the existing parking spots.
“We are funding projects that are both increasing the physical availability of parking by adding truck parking spaces and helping to optimize the parking that’s already there,” Buttigieg said.
“So when you hear about an IT project, what we’re trying to do is correct the fact that in addition to there not being enough spaces out there, which is certainly a problem that won’t be solved by 10 spots here or 12 spots there, we’re also giving drivers better access to insights about where the spaces are going to be.”
Bost suggested that informing truck drivers about the lack of parking isn’t beneficial.
“I’ve been in the trucking business my whole life, and I can tell you that the problem really is that there are not enough spaces available,” he said.
Truck Parking Safety Improvement Act
Bost is the lead sponsor of the Truck Parking Safety Improvement Act, which would allocate $755 million over three years to the construction of parking spots. According to the bill text, any project funded by the bill cannot include paid parking. All parking under the bill must be publicly accessible and free of charge.
Rep. Wiley Nickel, D-N.C., lent support to the bipartisan bill last week, bringing the number of co-sponsors to 36. LL