The American Trucking Associations will no longer push for commercialization of interstate highway rest areas as a way to gain additional truck parking, ATA’s new president told truck stop owners last month. Bill Graves, who joined ATA in January after two terms as governor of Kansas, told attendees at NATSO’s annual conference that ATA will work toward parking solutions that would mutually benefit members of both organizations. NATSO represents owners and operators of truck stops and travel plaza.
“We’re exploring ideas ranging from better signage to let folks know not only where stops are located, but where space is available; financial incentives for states that donate land to truck stops that agree to expand parking, and even federal grants or loans to help you pay for better access, better security and additional ‘room at the inn,'” Graves said.
Graves acknowledged that at the same meeting last year, then-ATA Chairman David McCorkle told NATSO that ATA “wanted more spaces any way we could get them.” NATSO members “understandably, preferred those spaces be located at your businesses,” Graves said. “This year, we are presenting a united front. ATA has agreed to stand down on the issue of commercialization.”
As recently as last summer ATA supported commercialization. Graves’ predecessor, Bill Canary, praised a federal study in June that showed 12 states had an overall shortage of public and private spaces while 35 states had shortages in public rest areas.
“ATA’s motor carrier members support the DOT’s recommendations to solve this problem, including direct and indirect federal funding for truck parking facilities and the possible commercialization or privatization of public rest areas,” Canary said.
NATSO last year disagreed with the idea of commercialization. “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,” a NATSO spokesman said.