Turning the worm on parking

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When I talked with Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association board member and owner-operator Tilden Curl during reporting the story about trends in enforcement in Washington State, where Curl lives, he’d fairly recently attended one of the regional meetings of the National Coalition on Truck Parking, which have been ongoing throughout the year. Curl noted a resource that the folks over at Ask the Trucker had tapped, a directory of state by state local/regional Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs), federally mandated organizations made up of area representatives and with a transportation emphasis. Last year’s FAST Act highway bill required such organizations to establish “an approved freight plan … in place by December 2017,” Allen Smith noted under part of the Washington report having to do with parking specifically. Driver and advocate Smith and the team over at Ask the Trucker pulled in listings for contacts within regional/local MPOs through which drivers could communicate directly with them to stress the need to adequate parking, particularly in areas where the need is greatest.

The map tool at AsktheTrucker.com’s MPO directory allows drivers to quickly navigate to particular state and more local MPOs.The map tool at AsktheTrucker.com’s MPO directory allows drivers to quickly navigate to particular state and more local MPOs.

Smith and company offered this form letter as an example of just how drivers could express the need in general way.

More specific recommendations could go directly to areas along your routes where you well know the parking need is greatest. As parking advocate Hope Rivenburg has stressed to me in the past on ways drivers can be involved in discussions with lawmakers and state DOTs, when you see a parking need in an area “take a few minutes and jot down where and what time” and share that information, she’s said. “‘You have x amount of spots and distribution centers here, and we can’t find a place to park. What can you do to help us?’”

With the MPO directory and contact forms Ask the Trucker has put together, doing so is a little easier today. Federal funds are available specifically for truck parking through Jason’s Law provisions, which you can also make known. Take a run through the tool via this link.

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And for more background on the intersection between driver advocacy and infrastructure planning, take a listen to Smith’s Ask the Trucker Live online radio show’s installment featuring Nicole Katsikides, from Maryland’s regional planning office:

Curl told me he believed the MPO directory tool needed to “be brought out to the forefront” for truckers across America as a way not only to stress parking needs but to engage with local planning orgs on just “what their people are doing in their local area to facilitate parking.”

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