Parking issue panel set for GATS later this month

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Updated Aug 8, 2018

I’ve been talking about this with former owner-op Scott Grenerth (now with the Truck Specialized Parking Service company) for a while now, and things have been coming together for a discussion at the Great American Trucking Show Saturday morning, August 25, around some of the more novel, nontraditional looks at truck-parking-capacity development as well as what drivers can do to be involved at local levels in increasing awareness of, and delivering intelligence around, the need. Grenerth is also formerly of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, during which time he first became involved with the National Coalition on Truck Parking efforts to identify and act upon areas of greatest need, where he continues to be a participant and take the lead on various initiatives, some of which I’ve detailed in previous reporting.

Scott GrenerthScott Grenerth

Grenerth’s involvement with the parking issue has also included hosting a National Coalition regional meeting and serving as the champion for the State, Regional and Local Government Coordination Group for the Coalition. As noted above, Grenerth works for Truck Specialized Parking Services, Inc. today, active with both the public and private sectors to provide accurate real-time truck parking solutions where the driver and cargo are secure. He’ll also be the lead moderator on the panel discussion at GATS among quite an assemblage of perspectives on parking from operational, advocacy, development and research standpoints. Among participants, in addition to Grenerth and others, are a couple of owner-operators regular readers are likely to be familiar with.

Owner-op Desiree Wood and her dog, Karma, in 2009Owner-op Desiree Wood and her dog, Karma, in 2009

I took this picture of independent owner-op Desiree Wood and her dog, Karma, back in the fall of 2009 at the Nashville TravelCenters of America location downtown.

Though you mightn’t be able to tell from the angle in the picture, she was wearing a Jason’s Law t-shirt even then, years before the legislation was codified. Earlier that year, following the murder of trucker Jason Rivenburg while he was parked off-duty at an abandoned facility’s parking lot, Wood and many others became active with Rivenburg’s widow, Hope, spurring on what would eventually become legislation putting truck parking safety and security (and availability, ultimately) on the map as a national-level priority. Today, Wood is also President of the Real Women in Trucking nonprofit advocacy organization that she founded, and like Grenerth has attended as an advocate National Coalition on Truck Parking meetings beginning in December 2015 up to present.

Owner-operator Gary BuchsOwner-operator Gary Buchs

Another familiar face no doubt will be that of Overdrive Extra contributing blogger, past Owner-Operator of the Year and longtime trucker Gary Buchs. Buchs hauls primarily in the Midwest, self-dispatching among Landstar’s independent-agent network mostly in the states around his midwestern home in Colfax, Ill.

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A key bridge between those like Buchs and Wood, who know what’s needed on the ground, and project-delivery specialists in the public and private sectors who help deliver needed parking capacity, are metro planning organizations — there’s one for every area in the United States. In and around Dallas that’s the North Central Texas Council of Governments, also a GATS exhibitor.

NCTCOG Transportation Planner Mike JohnsonNCTCOG Transportation Planner Mike Johnson

The NCTCOG’s Transportation Planner Mike Johnson joined the organization in 2014, adding to what’s ultimately a decade and a half of transportation-related experience. He’s responsible for project management and implementation of regional goods movement initiatives, to facilitate the safe and reliable movement of goods, people, and services within the region. He’s lead the development work around numerous studies, including a Freight Congestion and Delay Study and the Regional Truck Parking Study. A grad of California State Polytechnic in Pomona, he’s an active member of the Dallas-Fort Worth Council of Safety Professionals and the Dallas-Fort Worth Fleet Maintenance Council. He assists in coordinating and facilitating the quarterly Regional Freight Advisory Committee, which serves to enhance, maximize, and promote regional freight mobility.

Former Federal Railroad Administrator Allan RutterFormer Federal Railroad Administrator Allan Rutter

Finally, from the perspective of government, academia, and high-level planning, we’re happy to hear from, likewise, Allan Rutter, current division head for Freight and Investment Analysis at the Texas A&M Transportation Institute.

Rutter is the Freight Practice Leader for the Texas A&M Transportation Institute, leveraging multimodal expertise of dozens of researchers working for public and private sector sponsors. Rutter’s currently leading the I-10 Connected Corridor project for Arizona DOT and three other state DOTs, and has led Federal Highway Administration projects on commercial motor vehicle safety and highway-rail grade crossing safety. Rutter was Federal Railroad Administrator under President George W. Bush from 2001 to 2004. As a Senior Associate with Cambridge Systematics, he led or participated in State Rail Plans in eight states, including California and Texas. Rutter was chief executive of the North Texas Tollway Authority, the regional toll road agency in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. He also worked for four different Texas Governors, and was involved in the first incarnation of high-speed rail in Texas in 1990.

This ought to be a great discussion of an important issue, with multiple perspectives on where to go in the future to improve access to space for rest to better supplement — and expand, where needed — the bread-and-butter existing parking infrastructure.

It will take place on the America Strong Stage in Hall A at the Dallas Convention Center to start the day, Saturday,  Aug. 25, at 10 a.m. Join us, and if you’d like to hear a particular question asked of the panelists, feel free to weigh in here or get in touch with me over email.