A recently introduced highway bill proposal has left industry experts disappointed in its failure to address the need for more truck parking.
The Senate Environment & Public Works Committee (EPW) unveiled what they are calling the bipartisan surface transportation reauthorization bill on May 22nd and, despite a growing number of lawmakers standing up for necessary truck parking, the nearly 550 page bill fails to allocate any amount of funds towards truck parking. This comes after Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure chairman Peter DeFazio promised he would “meaningfully address” truck parking in the bill as it was pending back in February.
Although there is some support for a separate, bipartisan bill looking to increase overall funding for highways, industry experts say the federal government’s failure to fund something as critical as truck parking is disheartening and frustrating at the very least, and dangerous at the very most.
“Washington has again missed an easy and obvious opportunity to address the truck parking crisis,” said Todd Spencer, President & CEO of OOIDA. “While we appreciate the bipartisan commitment to increase overall funding for highways, the lack of dedicated federal funding for truck parking is a glaring omission in this proposal.”
The proposed EPW bill allocates billions of dollars for new initiatives. Some of these allocations include: $2 billion for alternative fueling and charging infrastructure, $250 million for emissions-eliminating projects for trucks at port facilities, and even $250 million towards eliminating invasive plants from highways.
“Apparently, the EPW Committee considers weeds a bigger priority than truckers in the next highway bill,” Spencer continued.
“It’s incredibly frustrating to see the Committee has authorized billions of dollars for new programs. But they couldn’t set aside a single penny to fix a well-documented and worsening safety concern that affects millions of truckers on a daily basis, WTF?” Spencer added.
“Truckers pay more than their fair share into the Highway Trust Fund, yet their top legislative priority continues to be ignored in favor of other highway users, including those who don’t even pay into the system. They [truckers] can’t even compete with plants for federal transportation funding.”
The Surface Transportation Reauthorization Act of 2021 is scheduled for a markup hearing on Wednesday, May 26th. An even broader infrastructure bill is also in the works, though it is still in the negotiation phase between Democrats and Republicans. Additionally, the standalone Truck Parking Safety Improvement Act, or HR2187, continues to gain cosponsors.