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Publication Number: FHWA-RD-01-158
Date: March 2002
Study of Adequacy of Commercial Truck Parking Facilities
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This report documents the findings of a study undertaken to investigate the adequacy of commercial truck parking facilities serving the National Highway System (NHS) in response to Section 4027 of the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21). Section 4027 requires the following:
...a study to determine the location and quantity of parking facilities at commercial truck stops and travel plazas and public rest areas that could be used by motor carriers to comply with Federal hours of service rules. The study shall include an inventory of current facilities serving the National Highway System, analyze where shortages exist or are projected to exist, and propose a plan to reduce the shortages. The study may be carried out in cooperation with research entities representing motor carriers, the travel plaza industry, and commercial motor vehicle drivers.
To assist in the preparation of this report, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) encouraged the creation of partnerships of public- and private-sector stakeholders at the State level and provided a technical guidance document for their use in conducting an inventory of current facilities serving the NHS, analyzing current and projected shortages, and developing plans for action at the appropriate jurisdictional levels. FHWA provided technical assistance to the partnerships to guide them in completing these activities. FHWA division offices worked closely with the partners for approximately one year and provided guidance and advice on forming and structuring partnership membership, conducting partnership meetings to review inventory and analysis results, and preparing partnership status reports that describe actions to mitigate any parking shortfalls identified. This report summarizes the results of this effort.
This study of the NHS is a follow-up to a previous study of the Interstate Highway System completed in 1996.(1) Subsequent to this 1996 report, a number of States also conducted studies of truck rest parking needs and availability within their jurisdictions.
FHWA solicited input on the truck rest parking issue through the Rest Area Forum, which FHWA hosted in Atlanta, GA, on June 29-30, 1999. Forum participants included more than 70 State Department of Transportation (DOT) and enforcement officials, representatives of the motor carrier industry, commercial truck-stop operators, commercial drivers, safety advocates, and other interested parties.(2) In addition, on May 21, 1999, FHWA issued a Request for Information (RFI-ST-001) to obtain feedback on how best to design, focus, and conduct the Section 4027 study. Five individuals or organizations responded. The results from the 1996 report and individual States' subsequent studies, input from the Rest Area Forum participants, and responses to the Request for Information can be summarized as follows:
In consideration of this input, FHWA has undertaken a two-pronged approach to the Section 4027 study. First, FHWA contracted for research to clarify drivers' parking-related needs and decision-making processes. Second, FHWA encouraged the creation of partnerships of public- and private-sector stakeholders in 49 States (excluding Hawaii) and provided a guidance document for their use in inventorying current facilities serving the NHS, analyzing current and projected shortages, and developing plans for action at the appropriate jurisdictional levels. These partnerships provided a forum for interested parties, including State and local agencies as well as the private sector, to examine the problem and formulate strategies to mitigate any problems identified.
This report, which summarizes the work completed by these partnerships, involved the following process:
Estimate Parking Demand Using a Modeling Approach
A nationwide estimate of the peak-hour demand for commercial truck parking facilities resulting from the need to comply with Federal hours-of-service (HOS) rules was conducted. The approach relied on the development of an engineering model to estimate the demand for commercial vehicle parking at public and commercial facilities. The model predicts commercial truck parking demand for a highway segment based on total truck-hours of travel and the time and duration of the stops. The model considers the effect of Federal HOS regulations on parking demand by using these regulations as part of the basis for estimating the average number of hours spent parking per hour spent driving.
A national survey of truck drivers' parking-related needs, preferences, and decision-making processes was conducted as part of the modeling effort. Surveys were distributed to a national sample of more than 2,000 truck drivers through site visits and mailings to truck stops. Survey results of drivers' preferences were used to estimate the fraction of total parking demand for public and private parking spaces.
Following are highlights from these efforts:
Additional details surrounding the national demand for commercial vehicle parking and the national survey of driver needs and preferences can be found in section 2.0 of this report.
Inventory Public and Commercial Truck Spaces
An inventory of the number of public rest areas and commercial truck stops that could be used to comply with Federal HOS rules was conducted as part of this study. The inventory included a survey of State DOTs to quantify the location and number of public rest areas. A proprietary database developed by Interstate America served as the primary basis for determining the number of spaces available at commercial truck stops and travel plazas. The driver survey also addressed features that truck drivers value at parking facilities. Highlights from the commercial truck parking supply inventory and driver survey include the following:
Refer to section 3.0 of this report for additional information pertaining to the supply of commercial truck parking spaces, including drivers' assessments of parking facility quality and the interchangeability of public rest areas and commercial truck stops and travel plazas.
Identify Deficiencies by Comparing Supply and Demand
A four-step process was used to determine where shortages in truck parking exist or are expected to exist. First, estimates of parking demand over roadway segments were developed using a modeling approach (section 2.0). Second, estimates of parking supply were gathered for each segment using available data sources (section 3.0). Third, a summary of the supply and demand for each roadway segment was provided to partners for review, verification, and comment. In many cases, subsequent analyses were conducted to account for the local knowledge of partners to improve the estimates. Fourth, a final calibration of the model was completed, and the calibrated model was used to evaluate shortages (section 4.0 ). Highlights from these analyses follow.
Additional findings stemming from the analysis of commercial truck parking supply and demand, including a national summary and a State-by-State analysis of parking shortages, can be found in section 4.0 of this report.
Develop Recommendations for Improvements to Mitigate Any Existing or Future Problems Identified
The State partnerships provided a set of recommended actions to solve any parking shortages that have been identified either through this study or as a result of other similar studies conducted in recent years for their States. These actions fall into six broad categories, as listed below.
More detail on these and other suggested recommendations from the State partnerships for reducing truck parking shortages, including recommendations from the 1999 Rest Area Forum and from government and motor carrier industry stakeholders surveyed as part of this study, can be found in section of this report.