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State DOTs Share Ideas for Solving Truck Parking Shortage

As the Federal Highway Administration gears up to conduct a survey this summer to determine the state of commercial truck parking availability across the nation, state DOTs and other groups are busy conducting their own fact-finding missions – sharing research about the parking issue and ways to fix it among themselves.

The I-95 Corridor Coalition, for one, held a truck parking workshop on May 8 that involved 13 East Coast states as a way to share "best practices" designed to address the parking issues, explained Marygrace Parker, director of freight and innovation in transportation for the group.

"We're trying to find ways to 'optimize' the situation," she explained to the AASHTO Journal. "On the one hand, there is this whole question of how do we build capacity to address the parking issue? It is what we're all struggling with. Then on the other, it's a technology issue, meaning how can we use data to better manage the [parking] capacity we already have?"

Parker said one of the many issues for state DOTs in this is that truck parking gets added to the "compendium" of capital infrastructure investment issues "already on their plates" and also how parking for commercial vehicles can be woven into overall highway infrastructure plans.

"It's an investment issue that comes back to the local level, right alongside traffic flow and signal timing," she added. "It's also an issue where you need to look at the larger freight picture. Everyone wants their stuff yesterday, but they don't think about how it gets to them."

Andrew Andrusko, principal planner at the office of freight and commercial vehicle operations within the Minnesota DOT, presented some of his agency's work on truck parking at the May 8 meeting and told the AASHTO Journal that determining what level of investment will be "adequate" to solve the problem is the toughest question to answer.

"Across the nation it is estimated that truck parking capacity across the national consists of 31,000 public and between 167,000 and 284,000 private truck parking spaces for nearly 3.6 million trucks," he said. "In Minnesota, we found that we have a significant gap in the amount of available parking at any one time."

Minnesota joined a larger effort between eight Midwestern states as part of the Mid-America Freight Coalition (MAFC) to create a "truck parking information management system" funded through a TIGER grant from USDOT with contributions from each of the states for match. Led by the University of Minnesota and University of Wisconsin, with the "lead agency" the Kansas DOT, the TPIMS – which cost $28.6 million in total – is expected to be operational in 2019.

"The interesting thing about the [I-95 Coalition] workshop is it allowed for a 'peer exchange' of information for us with states outside the Midwest," he said. "It gave us a way to look at different technologies being used in similar truck parking projects."

But Andrusko noted that building more physical truck parking capacity remains key to solving this problem. Since 2009, MAFC member states have increased public truck parking capacity by 3 percent and by 2024, programmed projects should increase capacity a further 4 percent to 8 percent, he said.

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