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Secretary Pete Buttigieg Promotes Truck Parking

DOT’s Agenda Includes Federal Funds for Expanding Access

WASHINGTON — Following a recent hearing with House lawmakers, Secretary Pete Buttigieg, the nation’s top transportation officer, said enhancing parking availability for commercial vehicles remains central to his department’s safety and supply chain agenda.

Speaking with reporters after a hearing of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, Buttigieg explained the Biden administration is committed to further assisting the freight sector with lingering parking concerns. He pointed to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s announcements of grants specifically for expanding such facilities.

“We’ve been pleased to support a number of truck parking projects with our discretionary grants, including INFRA. We want to make sure that we continue to get good applications and fund good projects. We’re also urging states to remember that this is an eligible use, often, of their formula dollars. We want to partner with them on that,” the secretary said June 27.

Multimodal projects based along key freight corridors are benefiting from new tranches of federal aid. Grants distributed via DOT’s Infrastructure for Rebuilding America (INFRA) program have been prioritized for advancing truck parking projects in the Pacific Northwest as well as Florida.

“The other thing I’d mention,” the secretary continued, “is there’s more and more technology to help optimize the parking spaces that exist. That doesn’t absolve us from needing to build more. But it does create opportunity. For example, Florida is piloting technology that helps drivers know what to expect rather than guesswork about whether spots will be available. So we’re going to continue pushing on all of this. And it sounds like there’s a lot of enthusiasm about that here in Congress too to maybe do even more.”

The department in the fiscal 2023-24 cycle awarded $180 million to the Florida Department of Transportation to add more than 900 truck parking spaces along Interstate 4 in the central region of the state. Following DOT’s INFRA grants announcement, American Trucking Associations joined stakeholders in touting the funding. For years, ATA has sounded the alarm about insufficient parking for commercial drivers.

“The severe shortage of truck parking continues to rank among drivers’ highest concerns, which is why we appreciate that Secretary Buttigieg and a growing number of states are making these projects a top priority,” affirmed ATA President Chris Spear. “America’s highways are our shop floor. When drivers finish their shift, they deserve to know that they will be able to find a safe place to sleep that night. These significant investments in expanding parking capacity along some of America’s busiest freight corridors will help reduce supply chain bottlenecks, alleviate stress on truck drivers and make the roadways safer for all motorists.”

On Capitol Hill, a fiscal 2025 House transportation funding bill proposes $200 million for expanding parking access for truckers. Relatedly, bicameral legislation central to enhancing access for parking also awaits consideration. Its sponsors continue to call on colleagues for their support on the transportation issue.

Rep. Mike Bost (R-Ill.), sponsor of the Truck Parking Safety Improvement Act, told Buttigieg during last month’s hearing that his legislation “addresses the shortfall on the truck parking to allow safe places for our drivers to take a break from the long road without fearing of accidents, assaults or robberies.”

Sen. Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.), a member of the committee on highways, is sponsoring the companion legislation. During last year’s introduction of the bill, the senator said: “The shortage of available and reliable parking for truck drivers puts a strain on truckers, Arizona businesses and our nation’s supply chain. Our bipartisan legislation will ensure that truck drivers can safely and efficiently move the goods that support our economy.”

Concerns associated with a lack of truck parking availability ranked second on the American Transportation Research Institute’s top industry issues report in 2023.

Read full article here on Transport Topics


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