New Jersey officials call for more truck parking

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The board of trustees for the North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority Monday, Jan. 14, approved a resolution forwarding a study containing recommendations on new and expanded truck parking locations in the region to the New Jersey Turnpike Authority for further consideration and action.

There are nearly 1,400 spaces in the region, but there is a projected demand for another 1,300, the study found. The study, developed in collaboration with the New Jersey Department of Transportation, found that trucks fill public and private rest areas in the region beyond capacity overnight.

“Truck parking presents an enormous challenge for this region, but we must address it,” says Peter S. Palmer, a Somerset County freeholder who serves as chairman of the NJTPA’s Freight Initiatives Committee. “The volume of truck traffic in this region is only going to continue to grow with our population and our economy. We need to take action now if we are going to be ready for the future.”

The study found that on some nights, nearly 300 trucks park on road shoulders in the region, presenting a serious safety hazard and a dilemma for law enforcement. The study looked at truck traffic data and use of existing facilities in an effort to identify the areas where truck parking would best serve the region’s needs. In addition, the study included extensive surveys of the trucking industry and drivers regarding the need for rest stops.

The study examined potential locations for new or expanded truck parking. Site criteria included parcel size; ownership (public or private); proximity to the interstate system; access; compatible land use (e.g., warehousing, industry, etc.); proximity and use of alternate parking sites; and how well a site could be expected to meet demand. A total of 52 criteria were considered for each site.

The study identified two potential sites: NJ Turnpike Vince Lombardi Service Area, Ridgefield, Bergen County; and NJ Turnpike Molly Pitcher Service Area, Cranbury, Middlesex County. In addition, the study calls for further analysis in the area of the interchange between I-78 and I-95 near the Port of Newark/Elizabeth. These recommendations would meet only some of the truck parking demand, and the study calls for ongoing work to identify more locations.

“For the safety of motorists and truckers alike – as well as for the region’s economic health – we need to develop appropriate parking for trucks where it is most needed,” said NJTPA Chairman Susan Zellman, a Sussex County freeholder.

The NJTPA effort was coordinated with similar examinations of truck parking needs that recently have been or are being conducted in Connecticut, New York and Pennsylvania. The complete NJTPA study, which contains additional policy recommendations and discussion of truck stop design and related environmental issues, is available at www.njtpa.org.