The Iowa Department of Transportation is part of an eight-state plan to make it easier for truck drivers to find a place to park along Interstate 80.
DOT planner Phil Mescher says the states will share funding that came about after a South Carolina truck driver who parked at an abandoned gas station was robbed and killed.
“This really brought a lot of awareness to the trucking companies and to the government about this issue,” Mescher says. “And so the publicity got the interest of Congress a little bit, so when they passed the transportation bill…they included some provisions in there to help states create either better parking, more parking or some technologies to help truck drivers.”
The states are sharing $25 million to create plans. Mescher says each state is working on a plan that fits their state that will also work with the other states. “In this proposal, what we wanted to do is to use some ITS, Intelligent Transportation Sytems technologies to provide truck drivers with information about the availability of truck parking at upcoming rest areas and truck stops,” Mescher explains.
He says you can see trucks parked at rest stops and off ramps along I-80 in Iowa and understand the need for the system. Mescher says one of the issues is truckers have limits on how many hours they can be on the road.
“If they are getting down to where they only have an hour or two left, it becomes imperative that they try to find a parking space so that they don’t spend an inordinate amount of time driving around pushing up against that threshold trying to find a parking spot,” Mescher says. He says it is important to have thing set up so the information from each state is easily accessible.
“I-80 is a huge transcontinental corridor — yet get a lot of trucks that are crossing the nation — and having that similarity is something I think that people like to see,” Mescher says. “All of the states do a great job with their 511 transportation systems, but they are all different, and you have to go to a different website for each one of them.” Mescher says Iowa will put information on the available truck parking spots on their 511 system.
He says they will also make it available to app developers for smartphones, and to companies who provide in-cab information systems and truck dispatchers. The plan involves technology to help monitor private and public truck stops.
We will either have in-pavement sensors in the parking stalls themselves for some sites and other sites…we will count the trucks going in and out, so we will know what the availability is on a regular basis,” Mescher says. The plan will be worked out and tested in the next year and is expected to be up and running by January of 2019.
Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin are all implementing their own truck parking information management system that will eventually interconnect into a regional system.