Minnesota shuts rest areas in budget battle

Truckers cannot park at an estimated 67 Minnesota rest areas after state officials shut the facilities down along with most state services at midnight June 30 until a funding crisis is resolved.

John Hausladen, president of the Minnesota Trucking Association, said he was unaware of accommodations made for truckers coping with the situation.”Truck drivers are caught between a federal government eager to do its job with hours-of-service and a state unwilling to provide the resources to do the job,” Hausladen said.

The current shutdown is under a Democrat governor and a Republican majority in both legislative branches. In 2005 an eight-day partial shutdown of Minnesota state services was under a Republican governor and a Democrat majority in the state House and Senate, he noted.

The Minnesota State Patrol is fully operational for roadside enforcement, but weigh stations staffing is likely to be minimal, Hausladen said.

The Minnesota DOT posted that permits for oversize and overweight trucks will be available, but it had halted all highway construction and closed work zones.

A Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration spokesman had no comment when asked if truckers would be afforded any leniency from HOS enforcement in Minnesota during the shutdown.

The state DOT said it will not monitor telephones and email accounts, nor operate 511mn.org, traffic cameras and other traveler information. State web pages have not been updated since 5 p.m. June 30.

The Stillwater Lift Bridge will be operational. In addition, state crews are repairing highways damaged from heat and humidity, including I-94 in Minneapolis-St. Paul, the state DOT said.

Minnesota has a few rest areas through partnerships with public and private entities, which require truck parking accommodation. Reportedly, some of these rest areas are open. For a list of all rest areas operated under these partnerships click here.

Ironically, the U.S. DOT recently announced an award of nearly $2.1 million to Minnesota’s Comprehensive System for Assessing Truck Parking Availability, which will deliver real-time information on parking availability.