On December 1, two senators introduced a companion bill to one already in the House that would allocate $755 million over four years for the expansion of truck parting across the U.S.
The bill was submitted by Senators Mark Kelly (D-Arizona) and Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyoming) and is similar to the Truck Parking Safety Improvement Act introduced in the House in July. That bill, submitted by Rep. Mike Bost (R-Illinois) and Rep. Angie Craig (D-Minnesota), was passed by the House Transportation Infrastructure Committee and currently awaits a vote by the full House.
While the two bills share several similarities and common goals, there are also a number of differences which will have to be ironed out by the two chambers.
The Senate bill establishes new funding eligibility criteria, including considerations for drivers’ personal safety. The bill also would make routine maintenance expenses eligible for funding though not to exceed 15% of awarded funds. This portion was added based on feedback by state transportation officials who often cite maintenance costs as a deterrent to expanding parking capacity.
Funding would be awarded on a competitive basis and applicants would be required to submit detailed proposals to the U.S. Department of Transportation. The primary focus would be to construct new truck parking facilities and convert existing weigh stations and rest areas into functional parking spaces for truck drivers.
In the House bill, projects would have to be located on a Federal-aid highway; or on a facility with reasonable access to a Federal-aid highway or a freight facility. Charging for parking would not be allowed.
Truckstop-and-travel-plaza association Natso worked with lawmakers to ensure that eligible grant recipients, which include state transportation departments, metropolitan planning organizations and local governments, can partner with the private sector (such as truck stops) to carry out their projects.
According to this year’s survey of critical issues in the trucking industry, conducted by the American Transportation Research Institute, driver’s ranked lack of parking as the top issue while carriers responding to the survey ranked the parking problem as 10th.
The issue is widespread and longstanding and finding solutions to truck parking would create increased safety and efficiency in the industry.
The American Trucking Association praised Senators Kelly and Lummis for their legislation in a recent statement.
“A chronic, nationwide shortage of commercial truck parking continues to strain our supply chain and jeopardize highway safety for all motorists. This carefully crafted legislation provides needed investments to remedy the problem while incentivizing public-private partnerships to further expand truck parking capacity,” said ATA President and CEO Chris Spear. “We thank Senators Lummis and Kelly for their strong leadership. Congress must ensure our nation’s truck drivers have safe and accessible places to park and rest so they can keep delivering for the American people.”