You might have noticed a lot more semi-trucks parked alongside the road these days. That's especially true at night when drivers have logged their hour limit and need to get some shuteye. COVID closed down rest stops nationwide, and with only one parking spot for every 11 tractor-trailers, it's turned into a serious problem. That's why the United States Department of Transportation is issuing $292 million in grants to add and improve accessible truck parking along the country's busiest freight routes.
It's the result of a congressional push that's been called for by trucking initiatives like the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association. They've been working to shine a light on the dire need for better related infrastructure, and the USDOT wrapped it into $4.9 billion of spending announced on Jan. 25. The National Infrastructure Project Assistance (a.k.a. Mega) grant program and the Infrastructure for Rebuilding America (INFRA) grant program are funding 37 projects. It's all part of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law signed by President Biden during his first year in office.
The bulk of that money goes to Florida, with $180 million allotted to adding more than 900 truck parking spaces on and near Interstate 4. After that, Missouri gets a $92 million slice of the pie to support truckers taking Interstate 70, the main east-west route that connects Kansas City to St. Louis. The Washington DOT is receiving $12 million to build up a regional truck parking information management system across 54 facilities on I-5, and finally, $8 million goes to the Wisconsin DOT to renovate a rest area on I-90 while expanding the number of parking spaces from 16 to 70.
“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,” said Chris Spear, president of the American Trucking Associations in a statement. “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.”
Indeed, this is significant not only for truckers but also for those who depend on them—which is to say, nearly everyone reading this. It affects the availability of goods and the safety of drivers, whether behind the wheel of a big rig or a minivan. These grants don't fix the problem altogether, but it is a necessary step for the better.
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