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Boozman backs $755 million truck parking bill

U.S. Senator John Boozman in the Republican Party of Arkansas headquarters in 2016 during a campaign interview.
Jacob Kauffman
U.S Senator John Boozman is supporting a bi-partisan bill that aims to increase parking for trucks. The truck industry is also in support of the bill and have said the lack of parking for truckers is a safety issue.

U.S. Sen. John Boozman, R-Ark., recently announced his support for a bipartisan bill to increase truck parking capacity and improve existing truck parking infrastructure. The bill would provide $755 million for truck parking projects through 2026.

Boozman joined Sens. Cynthia Lummis, R-Wyo.; Mark Kelly, D-Ariz.; and Jon Tester, D-Mont., to introduce the Truck Parking Safety Improvement Act. Legislators introduced similar bills last year supported by American Trucking Associations and Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association.

“Truckers play a crucial role in our supply chain,” Boozman said. “Arkansas truckers have shared with me the difficulties they frequently experience in finding a safe location to park as they transport goods and products across the country. The Truck Parking Safety Improvement Act is an investment that will make it easier for these drivers to find reliable parking and improve efficiency while protecting all motorists on the roads.”

According to the bill, truck drivers cannot be charged a fee to park in the spaces that are added using money from the act.

“There is a significant and pervasive shortage of truck parking in the U.S. – only about one space for every 11 truck drivers,” said Shannon Newton, president of the Arkansas Trucking Association. “We thank Sen. Boozman for recognizing the need to provide truck parking when and where it’s needed, so professional drivers can get back on the road to safely deliver America’s freight.”

In a recent Senate Appropriations subcommittee hearing, Boozman highlighted the issues regarding the parking shortage and stressed the importance of expanding the parking.

“Nearly 87% of Arkansas communities depend exclusively on trucks to move their goods,” said Boozman, noting his interest in the U.S. Department of Transportation’s long-term plan to expand truck parking capacity. “We’ve heard repeatedly from representatives of the trucking industry that the nationwide shortage of truck parking capacity is a key driver of supply chain inefficiency.”

In the hearing, Boozman asked DOT Secretary Pete Buttigieg whether a competitive grant program for truck parking projects would help the DOT and states address the issue that’s likely to worsen.

Buttigieg agreed with the issue’s importance and noted that existing federal money is being used to add the parking, including in Florida and Tennessee. The DOT has taken steps to encourage states to use their federal aid to complete parking projects, and he said a dedicated program to address the issue “would meet a need.”

Dave Parker, public information officer for the Arkansas Department of Transportation (ArDOT), cited a recent truck parking survey along Arkansas interstates. Using the data, ArDOT estimated a statewide truck parking shortage of 2,599 spaces among 6,683 existing spaces.

Parker said ArDOT would soon open a $6.12 million truck parking facility to add about 85 truck parking spaces along Interstate 40 in West Memphis. Funding comes from the Arkansas Commercial Truck Safety and Education Program.

ArDOT also plans to open a nearly 100-space truck parking facility and rest area along a new Interstate 49 segment between Alma and Barling that “is years from completion,” Parker said. In October, state and Fort Smith area officials hosted a groundbreaking for the 13.7-mile, multi-phase project to extend I-49 from Alma to Barling. The new $710 million segment, including a new Arkansas River bridge, is expected to be open to traffic by 2030.