No parking?

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The Federal Highway Administration concluded last month that while most states have a shortage of truck parking in public rest areas, only 12 states don’t have enough parking spaces considering both public and private facilities, such as truck stops. The study finds that about 90 percent of the nation’s 315,850 truck parking spaces are in commercial truck stops and travel plazas.

FHWA concluded that parking areas for trucks and buses along major roads and highways are “more than adequate across the nation when both public and commercial parking facilities are factored in.” Even so, FHWA conceded, “It is not clear that an adequate number of parking spaces exists in all states or along certain high truck volume corridors.”

The agency identified 12 states – California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Ohio, Texas and Washington – as having an overall shortage of public and private spaces. Just considering public rest areas, 35 states had shortages of truck parking spaces. Only eight states had a shortage of private parking spaces. The report declares that public rest areas along highways were not intended to accommodate truck-parking demand and suggests that states explore commercializing rest areas.

Something for everyone
By finding pockets of problems but an adequate parking supply throughout the country, the FHWA report was welcomed by representatives on both sides of the debate.

“The study confirms what America’s professional truck drivers tell us every night after having spent hours searching for a safe, secure parking space in which to get their required rest: that along major trucking corridors in the United States, the demand for truck parking spaces far outstrips the supply,” said William Canary, president of the American Trucking Associations.

ATA supports the study’s recommendations for states to:

  • Expand or improve public rest areas;
  • Expand or improve commercial truck stops and travel plazas;
  • Encourage the formation of public-private partnerships;
  • Educate or inform drivers about available spaces;
  • Change parking enforcement rules; and
  • Conduct additional studies.

NATSO, the trade association representing truck stop and travel plaza operators, also found support for its position. “We are gratified that this federal study has discredited the myth that this country suffers from a nationwide parking shortage,” said Scot Imus, NATSO vice president of government affairs for NATSO, “This comprehensive report validates our position that shortages exist only in isolated parts of the country where the private sector has been prevented from meeting the needs of its customers.”

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The association disagreed, however, with the recommendation that commercialization of state rest areas be explored. “Allowing state-supported commercial establishments on the right-of-way would destroy the competitive interchange environment where over 90 percent of truck parking is found,” Imus said.

The FHWA parking study is available at