- The Wyoming Department of Transportation will add 200 new truck parking spaces along Interstate 80, with work underway this week, according to a Wyoming DOT news release. The Winter Freight project will add the spaces to the Fort Steele Rest Area about seven miles east of Sinclair and at the Quealy Dome truck parking area 20 miles west of Laramie.
- Wyoming DOT officials said the project is designed to alleviate parking-demand surges that occur when weather is poor or when I-80 is closed. "The new truck parking will provide additional options for truck drivers to park safely while they wait for conditions to improve," Tim Morton, a Wyoming DOT construction engineer, said in the release.
- The federal government is funding the project through a Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development grant. The project is expected to be complete in October 2022, according to Wyoming DOT.
Truck parking is a consistent issue for over-the-road drivers. But when routes are interrupted by closures, or when snow and ice come down hard, it can become even more difficult to find parking.
Interstate 80 is a key route for drivers and fleet managers. It runs from New Jersey through Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and Iowa. It enters Wyoming from the southern part of the state on the way to Utah, northern Nevada and, finally, San Francisco.
The highway through Wyoming is closed when snow is severe, as it was Monday. "Around 9:30 a.m. both directions of I-80 between Cheyenne and Laramie were closed due to weather conditions," local station KNEB-TV reported.
Federal officials and industry stakeholders have been pushing for additions to the nation's inventory of private and public parking spots for trucks. In March, a bipartisan group in the U.S. House of Representatives introduced the Truck Parking Safety Improvement Act, which would make $755 million available to states to finance projects aimed at increasing the number of parking spaces for commercial truck drivers.
Illegal parking — such as shoulder parking, which might occur if a driver is in sudden need of parking — can be hazardous. It is one of the reasons a co-sponsor of the March bill decided to push for more federal involvement.
"One concern for truck drivers is the lack of enough safe parking spots where they can get the rest they need without risking collisions on the shoulder of the highway or being forced to push their limits to find the next rest stop," said Rep. Mike Bost, R-Illinois, in the March news release. "This puts the truckers and other motorists at significant risk."
The American Transportation Research Institute ranked truck parking the No. 5 biggest area of concern for the industry in its October 2019 report on critical issues. "The lack of available truck parking creates a dangerous and costly dilemma for truck drivers who are often forced to drive beyond allowable HOS rules or park in undesignated and, in many cases, unsafe locations," the report reads.
But the problem has lingered for years. On March 5, 2009, truck driver Jason Rivenburg had difficulty finding parking one night. He parked at an abandoned gas station. He was robbed and killed. Federal officials passed a law to study the truck-parking issue, which became effective on Oct. 1, 2012.