On December 12th 2016 was the final meeting for the National Truck Parking Coalition held at the United States Department of Transportation in Washington D.C.
These meetings began November 2015 and followed with 5 more during the year.
The National Truck Parking Coalition brings together stakeholders from transportation organizations, the freight industry, and other relevant groups to advance safe truck parking. The goal of the meetings are to address and find solutions identifying real life strategies for the real life truck parking shortage.
I was honored to be able to listen to and speak with many of those within the DOT, including FHWA Administrator Gregory G Nadeau.
- Mr Nadeau spoke with concern and urgency. Many time drivers feel that the government isn’t aware, doesn’t care, doesn’t understand the challenges and obstacles, and overall has no idea what’s going on in the life of the professional driver.
I will tell you, listening to Mr. Nadeau speak, “he gets it”, and so do many of the others in government positions who were there.
- The Administrator and the FHWA has issued a Notice for Requested Comments regarding Commercial Activities on Interstate Rest Areas
This notice of comments for Commercial Activities on Interstate Rest Areas was brought up at the National Truck Parking Coalition which some were not aware. For those who weren’t aware, We now only have a few days to reply.
The importance for your reply of these comments? The ideas CAN aid in maintaining rest areas, opening closed ones and allowing for additional Rest Rea Truck Parking.
Rest Area Truck Parking should be a major concern fro EVERY DRIVER who believe that Truck Parking is in crisis and that state Rest Areas need to be able to sustain and maintain themselves to remain open. Many rest areas have had to close down because of lack of funding, adding to the truck parking shortage.
The FHWA provides financial aid (Federal-aid) to States for the construction, maintenance and operation of highway transportation facilities that are primarily on the National Highway System (NHS). The NHS consists of highways important to the Nation’s economy, defense, and mobility, including the Interstate System.
Many times Federal Aid is not enough to sustain and commercialization for these rest areas would help keep may of them open. Antiquated laws are prohibit over the counter sales of merchandise in rest areas located on the Interstate. The FHWA is seeking YOUR input to modify existing laws..
The Interstate System is a critical element of the surface transportation system, providing a network of limited access freeways which facilitate the distribution of virtually all goods and services across the United States. The Interstate System also influences the mobility and safety of people and goods by providing access to local highway and networks of public streets
Because of laws, dating back to over 50 years ago. commercialization of rest areas has been prohibited.
States that receive Federal-aid for their NHS highway facilities or who wish to maintain eligibility to receive it must adhere to applicable Federal statutes and regulations. Section 111, of Title 23, United States Code, and 23 CFR 752.5 prohibit over the counter sales of merchandise in rest areas located on the Interstate.
Allowable commercial activity in rest areas on the Interstate System includes:
- Installation of commercial advertising and media displays, if such advertising and displays are exhibited solely within any facility constructed in the rest area and are not legible from the main traveled way;
- sale of items designed to promote tourism in the State, limited to books, DVDs, and other media;
- sale of tickets for events or attractions in the State of a historical or tourism-related nature;
- distribution of travel-related information, including maps, travel booklets, and hotel coupon booklets;
- installation and operation of lottery machines; and
- installation and operation of vending machines which may only dispense such food, drink, and other articles as the State transportation department determines are appropriate and desirable and which are operated in accordance with the Randolph-Sheppard Act of 1936 found at 20 U.S.C. 107.
Recently, several State departments of transportation have raised questions about what constitutes a vending machine and consequently what can or should be allowed in Interstate rest areas.
There is currently no definition of vending machine either in the statute at 23 U.S.C. 111 or the regulation at 23 CFR 752.5. The current regulation and law have remained substantially the same and have not defined the term “vending machine” for more than 30 years. At the time of publication of both the statute and final rule, vending machines were generally similar in that they accepted coins or paper currency, were operated by either a push button or a pull lever, and dispensed similar limited products. In the last several years, however, technology has evolved well beyond the types of machines that were available when the law was enacted and the final regulation was published. Vending machines can now accept electronic means of payment and can vend a continually evolving and broad range of products.
Additionally, there is now technology that is similar to vending machines, but not in existence at the time the statute was enacted. For example, self-serve kiosks at which the customer scans the goods for sale and then pays by cash or electronic method and which requires no assistance from either the kiosk owner or employee have become readily available.
The FHWA is interested in gathering public comments on how certain provisions of the current law should be interpreted and applied in consideration of advancements in technology and the interests of the States. Specifically, FHWA is interested in comments concerning the definition of vending machines. The FHWA is also interested in public input concerning the provision of law that allows the sale of items designed to promote tourism in the State, currently limited to books, DVDs, and other media.
Specific questions to guide the input are as follows:
- Considering advances in technology, what defines a vending machine in today’s world?
- What types of “media” should be considered as promoting tourism in the State?
- Should local agricultural products be considered media that promotes tourism?
- Are there other commercial activities that should be allowed consistent with Federal law?
- Is there a need for additional Federal guidance on commercial activities in Interstate rest areas, and if so, what should the guidance address?
The time is NOW to reply to the Regulations.gov in response to
Commercial Activities on Interstate Rest Areas
1 Driver comments allow for real life input on how the need and importance of Rest Areas affect their lives and their ability to find safe haven for their federally mandated breaks. This would include their Hours of Service and ELD’s which will enforce HOS.
2) How defining and expanding allowance of existing laws in 23 U.S.C. 111 or regulation at 23 CFR 752.5 would help states maintain their rest areas without depending on Federal Aid.
3) Rest areas which exist now would benefit by expanding the definition of Vending Machine and how they can offer more services and remain in compliance of the law, increasing state revenues.
4)How expanding the existing provision of law that allows sales of items designed to promote tourism in the State, currently limited to books, DVDs, and other media could ALSO include agricultural products which would not only promote tourism of the states, but add to the revenue, and would offer truckers nutritional food, many time not offered at truck stops.
5) There also needs to be a serious look at allowing further sales of commercial items to truckers and the motoring public, which would not negatively impact the flow of highway traffic or hurt businesses now existing on exits off the highways. With thought and discussions this can be achieved.
History and Background of National Highway Laws
Service stations and other commercial establishments have been prohibited since 1956 from the interstate right-of-way, in contrast to the franchise system used on toll roads.
- AGREEMENTS RELATING TO USE OF AND ACCESS TO RIGHTS-OF-WAY.
All agreements between the Secretary of Commerce and the State highway department for the construction of projects on the Interstate System shall contain a clause providing that the State will not add any points of Access to, or exit from, the project in addition to those approved by the Secretary in the plans for such project, without the prior approval of the Secretary. Such agreements shall also contain a clause providing that the State will not permit automotive service stations or other commercial establishments for serving motor vehicle users to be constructed or located on the rights-of-way of the Interstate System. Such agreements may, however, authorize a State or political subdivision thereof to use the air space above and below the established grade line of the highway pavement for the parking of motor vehicles provided such use does not interfere in any way with the free flow of traffic on the Interstate System.
Title 23, United States Code (current as of October 19, 2012, including public laws through P.L. 112-196)
Sec. 111. Agreements relating to use of and access to rights-of-way -Interstate System https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/map21/docs/title23usc.pdf pages 35 & 36 of 303
In General. -All agreements between the Secretary and the State transportation department for the construction of projects on the Interstate System shall contain a clause providing that the State will not add any points of access to, or exit from, the project in addition to those approved by the Secretary in the plans for such project, without the prior approval of the Secretary.
Such agreements shall also contain a clause providing that the State will not permit automotive service stations or other commercial establishments for serving motor vehicle users to be constructed or located on the rights-of-way of the Interstate System and will not change the boundary of any right-of-way on the Interstate System to accommodate construction of, or afford access to, an automotive service station or other commercial establishment. Such agreements may, however, authorize a State or political subdivision thereof to use or permit the use of the airspace above and below the established grade line of the highway pavement for such purposes as will not impair the full use and safety of the highway, as will not require or permit vehicular access to such space directly from such established grade line of the highway, or otherwise interfere in any way with the free flow of traffic on the Interstate System.
Nothing in this section, or inany agreement entered into under this section, shall require the discontinuance, obstruction, or removal of any establishment for serving motor vehicle users on any highway which has been, or is hereafter, designated as a highway or route on the Interstate System
(1) if such establishment
(A) was in existence before January 1, 1960, (B) is owned by a State, and (C) is operated through concessionaries or otherwise, and
(2) if all access to, and exits from, such establishment conform to the standards established for such a highway under this title.
In general.- Notwithstanding subsection (a), the Secretary shall permit a State to acquire, construct, operate, and maintain a rest area along a highway on the Interstate System in such State.
Limited activities. -The Secretary shall permit limited commercial activities within a rest area under paragraph
(1), if the activities are available only to customers using the rest area and are limited to –
(A) commercial advertising and media displays if such advertising and displays are -(i) exhibited solely within any facility constructed in the rest area; and
(ii) not legible from the main traveled way;
(B) items designed to promote tourism in the State, limited to books, DVDs, and other media;
(C) tickets for events or attractions in the State of a historical or tourism-related nature;
(D) travel-related information, including maps, travel booklets, and hotel coupon booklets; and
(E) lottery machines, provided that the priority afforded to blind vendors under subsection (c) applies to this subparagraph.
(3) Private operators.
– A State may permit a private party to operate such commercial activities.
(4) Limitation on use of revenues.
– A State shall use any revenues received from the commercial activities in a rest area under this section to cover the costs of acquiring, constructing, operating, and maintaining rest areas in the State.
Vending Machines. –
Notwithstanding subsection (a), any State may permit the placement of vending machines in rest and recreation areas, and in safety rest areas, constructed or located on rights-of-way of the Interstate System in such State. Such vending machines may only dispense such food,drink, and other articles as the State transportation department determines are appropriate and desirable.
Such vending machines may only be operated by the State. In permitting the placement of vendingmachines, the State shall give priority to vending machines which are operated through the State licensing agency designated pursuant to section 2(a)(5) of the Act of June 20, 1936, commonly known as the
“Randolph- Sheppard Act” (20 U.S.C. 107a(a)(5)). The costs of installation, operation, and maintenance of vending machines shall not be eligible for Federal assistance under this title.
(d) Motorist Call Boxes. –
(1) In general.- Notwithstanding subsection (a), a State may permit the placement of motorist call boxes on rights-of-way of the National Highway System. Such motorist call boxes may include the identification and sponsorship logos of such call boxes.
(2) Sponsorship logos. –
(A) Approval by state and local agencies. -All call box installations displaying sponsorship logos under this subsection shall be approved by the highway agencies having jurisdiction of the highway on which they are located.
(B) Size on box. –
A sponsorship logo may be placed on the call box in a dimension not to exceed the size of the call box or a total dimension in excess of 12inches by 18 inches
Federal Aid Policy Guide – Non-regulatory SupplementTransmittal 6: Vending Machines in Interstate Rest Areas and Abandonment of Interstate Rest Areas
The Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) annual edition is the codification of the general and permanent rules published in the Federal Register by the departments and agencies of the Federal Government produced by the Office of the Federal Register (OFR) and the Government Publishing Office.
(a) Safety rest areas should provide facilities reasonably necessary for the comfort, convenience, relaxation, and information needs of the motorist. Caretakers’ quarters may be provided in conjunction with a safety rest area at such locations where accommodations are deemed necessary. All facilities within the rest area are to provide full consideration and accommodation for the handicapped.
(b) The State may permit the placement of vending machines in existing or new safety rest areas located on the rights-of-way of the Interstate system for the purpose of dispensing such food, drink, or other articles as the State determines are appropriate and desirable, except that the dispensing by any means, of petroleum products or motor vehicle replacement parts shall not be allowed. Such vending machines shall be operated by the State.
(c) The State may operate the vending machines directly or may contract with a vendor for the installation, operation, and maintenance of the vending machines. In permitting the placement of vending machines the State shall give priority to vending machines which are operated through the State licensing agency designated pursuant to section 2(a)(5) of the Randolph-Sheppard Act, U.S.C. 107(a)(5).
(d) Access from the safety rest areas to adjacent publicly owned conservation and recreation areas may be permitted if access to these areas is only available through the rest area and if these areas or their usage does not adversely affect the facilities of the safety rest area.
(e) The scenic quality of the site, its accessibility and adaptability, and the availability of utilities are the prime considerations in the selection of rest area sites. A statewide safety rest area system plan should be maintained. This plan should include development priorities to ensure safety rest areas will be constructed first at locations most needed by the motorist. Proposals for safety rest areas or similar facilities on Federal-aid highways in suburban or urban areas shall be special case and must be fully justified before being authorized by the FHWA Regional Administrator.
(f) Facilities within newly constructed safety rest areas should meet the forecast needs of the design year. Expansion and modernization of older existing rest areas that do not provide adequate service should be considered.
(g) No charge to the public may be made for goods and services at safety rest areas except for telephone and articles dispensed by vending machines.
[43 FR 19390, May 5, 1978, as amended at 48 FR 38611, Aug. 25, 1983]
Additional Read- Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956: Creating The Interstate System
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