Truck ‘N Park demonstration hits the ground running

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Updated Feb 21, 2016

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The  image above shows the interactive map tool available since late last year at the website of the I-95 Corridor Coalition-led parking availability information demonstration project, Truck ‘N Park. Two rest-area sites are part of the effort, and via the website, I95truckparking.com, drivers can access real-time availability of spaces and also set up the system to automatically call them back at a certain time with availability information.

The call-back feature, project coordinator Marygrace Parker hopes, will make such systems good trip-planning tools for haulers along the I-95 corridor.

“The way the system works,” Parker says, “you sign on at the website, and in the system, you can give it an idea of when you’ll be in the area. The phone system will auto-call them whenever they suggest with time-stamped availability information.”

The project is in the middle of what she calls a three-to-six-month “proof of concept, to make sure all the components of the system work.” As of late last week, she said everything seemed “to be working pretty well” in terms of accuracy of the parking space-availability data, monitored by in-pavement sensors and cameras. “We need to have a 98 percent accuracy rate and 100 percent consistency,” certainty that the information is being updated in a timely fashion.

It performed well even through the couple big snow events the greater Washington, D.C., region has seen this winter, Parker says.

“Truckers really need that reliability,” she adds. “They can’t shift gears so quickly like someone in a passenger car can.”

As far as the call-backs, says Susan Michlik, senior traffic information coordinator with Schneider Electric Mobility, truckers northbound on I-95 are getting their automated calls with information on the road ahead for parking. The project’s website numbers, too, show that it’s being utilized — “we’re getting hits.”

But two sites with a total of around 60 spaces in congested areas around D.C. in Virginia and Maryland, respectively, and both on I-95’s northbound side, is but a drop in the public-parking-information bucket on a corridor that runs through many of the top states for parking issues. According to Overdrive‘s own late 2015 analysis, 12 of 16 I-95 Corridor Coalition member states ranked among the top 20 worst states for truck parking, a ranking based on reader surveys and parking-density ratings from the federal Jason’s Law Truck Parking Survey and study.

What’s more, coalition member states accounted for 7 of the top 10 worst states.

The top 20 worst states for truck parking

Parker realizes the real capacity problems at hand, she says. “We all know that capacity is the biggest issue. But in the meantime, if we can at least bring attention to what’s there, and when it’s available,” perhaps better utilization of available space will mitigate capacity issues in the short term. “We’re really committed to try to get something done here and move it along.”

Virginia, Parker says, may be where the system could get its next expansion, given the state’s shown interest in moving it into four or five other publicly-controlled sites. “As a coalition,” she says, “we demonstrate what can be done.” State DOTs then operate the projects.

For now, Parker says, she “wants to make truckers aware” the system is there for their use.

“We’ve been reaching out to other entities, too,” she said, such as companies with mobile apps who might easily integrate the real-time availability data into their software via XML feed. “If they can commit to keep it updated in real time,” she adds, “we don’t have a problem with making the system publicly owned. We’d like to get them that feed. We’ll give it to them.”

If you run through the region, you can give the system a whirl yourself via I95TruckParking.com. 

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