Trucks barred from section of I-20, and citations are flying

Trucking news and briefs for Monday, Jan. 29, 2024:

Trucks barred from I-20 construction zone in Louisiana

Truck crash I-20 LouisianaA Louisiana DOTD traffic camera shows the most recent crash involving an 18-wheeler on Jan. 24 in the I-20 construction zone in Bossier City.Louisiana DOTD

The Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development and Louisiana State Police last week issued a reminder that large commercial motor vehicles are currently prohibited from traveling through the construction zone on I-20 in Bossier City.

Numerous recent crashes involving 18-wheelers have forced the closure of a portion of I-20, which is already reduced to one lane in the rehabilitation zone from Hamilton Road to Industrial Drive.

These closures often last for several hours as the operations required to remove these vehicles are extensive, significantly impacting traffic flow in the region, DOTD said. Additionally, these incidents can impede construction progress.

Since the major reconstruction project started in September 2023, DOTD and LSP have urged both motorists and truck drivers to utilize the primary detour of I-220.

In December 2023, the decision was made to prohibit large commercial motor vehicles from traveling through the work zone, as phase 2 of construction included concrete barriers and more narrow bridge crossings.

The ban was enacted with the safety of all motorists in mind, as well as with the goal of ensuring progress can continue to be made on the project itself, the agencies added. Since then, LSP has issued more than 200 warnings and citations to drivers who have disregarded the numerous signs informing motorists that trucks are prohibited on I-20 and to use the I-220 detour.

[Related: Highway safety PSAs fit for our four-wheeled friends]

Truck parking funding legislation picks up more support

A bill introduced in both chambers of Congress has continued to gain bipartisan support. The Truck Parking Safety Improvement Act is now up to 14 co-sponsors in the Senate and 41 co-sponsors in the House of Representatives.

Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pennsylvania) is the latest Senator to sign on in support of the legislation, while Reps. Donald Davis (D-North Carolina) and Deborah Ross (D-North Carolina) each joined as co-sponsors to the House version this month.

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The bill was introduced in both the Senate and House in March 2023 and would provide $755 million in competitive grant funding to expand commercial truck parking capacity across the country. 

The Senate version has seen no action since its introduction. The House version was passed by the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure in May, but has yet to see action on the full House floor.

[Related: How to fight for your right to park the truck]

New Mexico launches Truck Parking Availability System

New Mexico parking signThe New Mexico DOT has completed a project to install electronic road signs to help truckers locate available parking at all six rest areas along I-10 in New Mexico.New Mexico DOT

The New Mexico Department of Transportation (NMDOT) has completed a $2.7 million truck parking initiative, unveiling the state’s first Truck Parking Availability System (TPAS), which the department called “a critical tool to enhance safety for truck drivers traveling the 164 miles of Interstate 10 in New Mexico.”

Truck drivers can now use electronic road signs and the state’s 511 system to locate available parking at all six rest areas along I-10 in New Mexico, including the east and westbound Lordsburg Welcome Centers, westbound Anthony and Gage rest areas, and the eastbound Yucca and Las Cruces rest areas. The state will also work with mobile app developers to integrate truck parking information into various trucking apps. 

According to a poll conducted in 2020 by the I-10 Corridor Coalition, 78% of truckers spend more than 30 minutes searching for safe parking. The lack of safe parking often leads to many drivers parking on shoulders, ramps, or other dangerous places, NMDOT noted. 

[Related: Ice Pick Bandit strikes multiple times in two nights in Georgia, Florida]

“NMDOT is excited to implement this first of its kind system in New Mexico and is committed to finding and implementing technology to support safety on our highways,” NMDOT Cabinet Secretary Ricky Serna.

The project is part of the I-10 Truck Parking Availability System (TPAS) initiative, partially funded by a $6.85 million U.S. DOT grant and matched 1:1 by the I-10 Coalition states to provide truck drivers and dispatchers with real-time truck parking information on I-10 in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California. When fully implemented in 2025, TPAS will provide truck drivers with information on more than 550 parking spots at 37 public rest areas along I-10 in all four states.

International recalling medium-, severe-duty trucks

Navistar is recalling nearly 300 severe- and medium-duty trucks for an issue related to the seat belts, according to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration documents.

The recall affects approximately 297 model year 2024 International HV and MV trucks. In the affected units, the driver's seat belt tether bolt may not be properly seated in the anchor, causing a bind at the anchor point, which could result in the seat belts not restraining drivers as intended.

Dealers will inspect and replace the seat belts as necessary, free of charge. Owner notification letters are expected to be mailed March 18. Owners can contact Navistar customer service at 800-448-7825 with recall number 24501. NHTSA’s recall number is 24V-026.