Parking roundtable with focus on Texas lanes set for GATS

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Updated Aug 20, 2019

Last year at the Great American Trucking Show in Dallas, regular readers will recall, we convened a panel comprised of experienced haulers Gary Buchs and Desiree Wood as well as a rep from a local infrastructure group, a former federal regulator and host and former owner-op Scott Grenerth on the subject of parking best practices, and how to effectively engage planners with suggestions around parking infrastructure, given the bevy of states and private companies that are focused on parking needs. We’re re-upping that idea this year, but with a slight shift in focus given the Texas Department of Transportation’s ongoing work on prioritizing parking infrastructure improvements in the state.

On Saturday, Aug. 24, at noon, join us to give your input directly to TxDOT’s Freight Planning Branch Manager Sherry Pifer. Grenerth, to whom regular readers will need no introduction, will moderate a brief discussion with Pifer and Texas-based Clark Freight Lines company driver Jack Smith and Tennessee/North Carolina independent owner-op Ingrid Brown. That discussion will serve as a jumping-off point to open up the hour-long session to your recommendations for the state agency as they continue long work put into identifying problem areas around the state and adding capacity where it’s needed, and more, of course.

After several months of data collection, field reviews and several driver interviews already conducted, TxDOT is zeroing in on where, how much and what type of truck parking is needed in the state. In essence, they’ve already developed a range of strategies for addressing the parking shortage and need your help polishing and prioritizing them:

  • Sharing your own expertise on parking needs within the state
  • Reviewing recommended strategies and proposing new ones
  • and Prioritizing TxDOT investment options

It’s one of a myriad of presentations, panels, discussions and education sessions taking place around a variety of issues at GATS this year (FMCSA has a presence — you can bet there will be plenty hours debate, given the news today) — you can find the basic stages schedule via this link to the GATS site. This will be taking place on the show floor in the Hall D area.

Following, more formal intros to the panelists and moderator. Join us next Saturday, Aug. 24, at noon for more.

Ingrid Brown, independent owner-operator and well-known trucking personality with 40 years of trucking experience behind her, has home bases in North Carolina and East Tennessee. Her Texas experience over the road, however, has been extensive over the course of her more than 4 million safe miles. Brown was recently named CMV Driver and Voice of Safety for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s “Our Roads, Our Safety” campaign, aimed at raising awareness about sharing the road safely with large trucks.Ingrid Brown, independent owner-operator and well-known trucking personality with 40 years of trucking experience behind her, has home bases in North Carolina and East Tennessee. Her Texas experience over the road, however, has been extensive over the course of her more than 4 million safe miles. Brown was recently named CMV Driver and Voice of Safety for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s “Our Roads, Our Safety” campaign, aimed at raising awareness about sharing the road safely with large trucks. Jack Smith, professional driver with Pasadena, Texas-based Clark Freight Lines for nearly three years, with more than a decade of experience with a commercial driver’s license in total. His freight lanes with Clark take him outside Texas, but his parking needs include areas within in Eastern, Northern and Southern portions of the state, where he sees some opportunity for parking improvement.Jack Smith, professional driver with Pasadena, Texas-based Clark Freight Lines for nearly three years, with more than a decade of experience with a commercial driver’s license in total. His freight lanes with Clark take him outside Texas, but his parking needs include areas within in Eastern, Northern and Southern portions of the state, where he sees some opportunity for parking improvement. Sherry Pifer has worked in transportation in some form for 12 years. She began a career as a freight broker for Tandem Logistics, then after six years in operations and business development she joined SH 130 Concession Co. in 2012 as a senior manager. Sherry joined TxDOT in 2018. There, she oversees the development and implementation of the State Freight Mobility Plan.Sherry Pifer has worked in transportation in some form for 12 years. She began a career as a freight broker for Tandem Logistics, then after six years in operations and business development she joined SH 130 Concession Co. in 2012 as a senior manager. Sherry joined TxDOT in 2018. There, she oversees the development and implementation of the State Freight Mobility Plan. Scott Grenerth, pictured here at the Mid-American Trucking Show this past March, where the Truck Specialized Parking Services company the former owner-operator works with today introduced the RigRest platform for parking availability info and more. 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. Grenerth is also a former rep with the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, where he worked as a director after coming off the road.Scott Grenerth, pictured here at the Mid-American Trucking Show this past March, where the Truck Specialized Parking Services company the former owner-operator works with today introduced the RigRest platform for parking availability info and more. 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. Grenerth is also a former rep with the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, where he worked as a director after coming off the road.

Grenerth appeared on Dave Nemo’s Sirius XM show this week to talk a little about the upcoming panel. Callers to the show offered numerous recommendations specific to Texas, and the brief list below illustrates just the kind of commentary Pifer and TxDOT are looking for from those with experience along Texas lanes

  • Add capacity to existing rest areas, even if it’s only one more row in the back.
  • Utilize car parking areas in rest area, which are generally not used by car drivers during the night, for parking during those overnight hours — this happens informally in many places, but making it official might go a long way toward alleviating stress on the get-on-get-off ramps.
  • Many states allow parking in weigh stations. Texas has room in the back of newer weigh stations to do this as well.
  • Where exit/entry ramps have necessarily favorable geometry, build out parking areas away from the ramp.
  • Example of a simple dirt lot parking area outside Texarkana near Highway 30, and an old scale house which is no longer used. Such areas might easily be replicated elsewhere where the possibility exists.
  • Take more advantage — as already in the case in some areas in Texas and Wyoming, possibly elsewhere — of wide spots in the road that are paved and where trash collection/pickup can be added.

If you do or don’t have experience on Texas lanes, TxDOT can surely benefit from your perspective. Collect your thoughts, meanwhile, and join us in Dallas Aug. 24. Hope to see you there.

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