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50 Billion for Infrastructure and still No Mention of Safe Truck Parking

Sep
8,
2010
1

Yesterday September 6th was Labor Day, a day which President Obama chose to announce his 50 Billion dollar plan to hopefully increase the Labor force of this great country of ours. The program, which he hopes will pass through Congress before the predicted “clean house” elections in November, is targeted towards Transportation and Infrastructure.  The areas of special interest are 150,000 miles of road rebuilding, 4,000 miles of railway building and maintaining,  and 150 miles in runways and advance air traffic control systems ( so travelers can have less flight delay and improve their “on time” scheduling)

The obvious goal for this massive 50 billion dollar plan is to increase jobs and repair our infrastructure. If you’re wondering where the money is going to come from, it’s said to be coming from the gas and oil industries, by eliminating their subsidies and tax breaks.

With all that being said I would like to know, “Where does safe truck parking come in?”
Jason’s Law, which is presently in the Transportation and Infrastructure committee, is a bill which would create, maintain and address the SEVERE shortage of truck parking that the FMCSA  themselves stated exists, and has existed now for quite awhile.

Here are some examples from the FMCSA/DOT sites of the studies and claims they have made. This is not a complete list, just a few examples

1 CMV Rest Areas I: Making Space for Safety.

This TRI study determined what public rest area and privately owned rest stop services are needed by CMV drivers and how well the current system meets these needs/demands.The study documented a significant shortage of rest area parking for commercial vehicles and drivers…

2 The Minnesota  Interstate Truck Parking Study p.10 states Current projections of truck parking demand indicate severe shortages over the next 20 years.
The Minnesota Interstate Truck Parking Study is designed to provide background data to support planning and decisions on future approaches to truck parking supply and demand within the state….

3 Intelligent Transportation Systems and Truck Parking

5.3 Summary

Continued growth in the truckload industry will lead to increased demand for truck parking….

6 What are Potential Solutions?  Here is a segment of this study

In 1999, FHWA sponsored a two-day Rest Area Forum, where stakeholders were invited to present issues and recommendations. Recommendations included the following:

  • Improve safety and security at public rest areas and commercial truck stops
  • Provide financial support (e.g., low interest loans) to support development of commercial truck stops
  • Improve financial support for improving and expanding public rest areas, and make this a safety-related issue
  • Change time limit policies in public rest areas (eliminate time limits to make rest areas more useful for overnight stops, or enforce time limits to free up spaces for short rests as needed)
  • Use alternative sites such as weigh stations and park and ride lots
  • Increase driver education and information on the causes of fatigue and on the availability and location of available parking spaces.

I think it is safe to say, that there is a severe shortage of truck parking here in the United States.

Today on the US  Secretary of Transportation  official blog, Fast Lane, Sec Ray LaHood wrote a post titled President Proposes new Jobs renewed infrastructure”
The post explains all the great things that the proposed 50 Billion dollars will be addressing, however, I did not see Safe Truck Parking addressed, a topic which millions of dollars have been spent on in various research studies, concluding that more truck parking is needed.

I tried to post a comment to the blog, but I received a pop up message stating: “we’re sorry, we can not accept this data”

Here is the comment I had made which was not “accepted” on the official US Sec of Transportation Blog  ( I’m not sure why)

“Safe Truck Parking Should be a Priority as Part of  the 50 Billion dollar Infrastructure Program”

A growing problem in the US for the professional truck driver has been a lack of commercial truck parking.
If something is not done, the safety on our highways will be greatly compromised for all who share these roads.

Because of the lack of parking issue, drivers are forced to:

1 Park on the Exit and entrance ramps. This is not only dangerous for themselves, but poses as a safety hazard for other drivers. Drivers are often ticketed for such behavior.
2) Drivers are forced to park in isolated/abandoned areas to rest
3) Drivers are forced to drive when tired, creating a safety hazard to the public and all those on the highways

As we all know, drivers are mandated by law to take a 10 hr break after driving for 11 hours. Without the adequate parking, an extreme safety hazard is being imposed on our highways, as unknowingly, other drivers are sharing these roads with overly fatigued drivers who have not found a safe place to park…so they keep driving until they can.

Last year, March 5th 2009, fellow trucker Jason Rivenburg was shot and killed as he tried to rest in an abandoned gas station before his early morning delivery. The motive was robbery, all $7.00 of it. Rivenburg left behind a young widow, a 2 year old son, and twins who were born a month after his death. His brave and courageous widow, Hope Rivenburg, continues to fight for Jason’s Law,including making trips to Washington, in attempts to end trucker deaths due to the lack of safe and adequate truck parking.
Her next trip to Washington is Scheduled for September 15th, 2010, which is also the next National Call In Day to Washington to request support for Jason’s Law.
The following month Congressman Paul Tonko presented bill HR 2156 to the House.  The bill would create a Pilot Program, 120 million dollars over 6 years, to aid in the maintaining and creation of new rest areas, specifically in areas of the country that are in desperate need of them.

This past June we had a National call in day to ask everyone to call their Senators and Reps, asking them to please co-sponor Jason’s Law, HR 2156 and S971( a similar bill presented to the Senate by NY Senator Charles Schumer.)

In June of 2010 we spoke to Todd Kohr of the Highways and Transit sub-committee. We were told that Transportation and Infrastructure funding was low and that most likely the bill would not make it out of committee. Instead we were told it would go into a “General” fund to address the problem- Surface Transportation Authorization Act

There has been extensive and confirmed research done by the FMCSA on the lack of truck parking in this country, and yet there has been no real significant attempts made to resolve the problem, even though the issue has been placed in general transportation funds. I fear that with the continuation of rest area closings due to state budget deficits, the problem of adequate safe truck parking will only worsen, thus creating an even more safety hazard for both the driver and the general public.
Jason’s Law would aid in these rest area closings by allocating funds, SPECIFICALLY targeted to the problem of lack of truck parking, and not allowing the funds to “take a back seat” in a general fund.

On behalf of the 4 million CDL drivers of this country, I ask that part of the 50 billion from this program be awarded to more safe and adequate truck parking. Jason’s Law would be Pilot Program, 20 million dollars a year for 6 years.
We can no longer dismiss this issue of inadequate truck parking. The need is too great and the consequences which we are facing, and will continue to face, are even greater, both for the professional truck driver and all who share our highways.   end of blog comment

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I will end with this:

This past June we called the Transportation and Infrastructure committee which Jason’s Law sits quietly in. We were told that it did not look hopeful and that Jason’s Law would most likely not  leave the committee for vote as the bill would probably be placed in a general fund for transportation ( translation = slush fund). Read more

If you believe that Jason’s Law and  the lack of truck parking should be  addressed/resolved, even without a 50 billion dollar infrastructure plan, then please let Sec Ray LaHood know. Hopefully your post will be moderated and allowed to be shared ( unlike mine)  Ray LaHood

2nd National Call In Day Scheduled for September 15th!!!! Call Your Reps

Hope Rivenburg goes to Washington for 3rd time….  Support her and Make the phone Calls!!

© 2010 – 2013, Allen Smith. All rights reserved.

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By: Allen Smith

Allen Smith is a 37 year veteran who started at an early age in a household goods family moving business. He began driving straight trucks in 1977 and moved to the big rigs in 1982. His experience within the industry includes; owner operator, company driver, operations manager, and owner of a long distance HHG moving business, taking many of the long haul moves himself when needed. Allen Smith, a truck driver advocate who is driven by the desire to help others succeed within an industry where injustice, unrewarded sacrifice, and lack of respect and recognition exists. Allen and his wife Donna are hosts of Truth About Trucking ”Live” on Blog Talk Radio. Other websites include AskTheTrucker, TruckingSocialMedia, NorthAmericanTruckingALerts, TruthAboutTrucking, and many Social Media websites. In 2011 Allen and Donna hosted the first Truck Driver Social Media Convention, designed to create unity and solutions for the trucking industry. This is now being extended through the North American Trucking Alerts network as those within the industry join forces for the betterment of the industry. Allen strongly supports other industry advocates who are also stepping up to the plate to help those who share honesty, guidance and direction. He believes that all those involved in trucking need to be accountable for their part within the industry, including drivers, carriers, brokers, shippers, receivers, etc… The list of supporters and likeminded people grow daily, networking together and sharing thoughts and ideas for the betterment of trucking. He has coined the popular phrase "Raising the standards of the trucking industry"

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