Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Governments band together for truck parking at Kentucky rest area

Over the past couple months, I have written about cities across the country that have taken truck parking seriously and have gone above and beyond to accommodate truckers. Today, I would like to give credit to state and federal agencies involved in getting the ball rolling for a busy rest area under construction.

In January, a facility at a rest area off of southbound Interstate 65 near Horse Cave, Ky., caught fire, damaging the building and shutting down the rest area. This is par for the course, as these sorts of things do happen. Except this rest area has approximately 110 parking spaces, making it a significant hub for truckers.

Scott Grenerth, director of regulatory affairs for the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, brought this to my attention. He wanted to find out why parking for the rest area was shut down considering work was only being done to the building. Couldn’t the state open up truck parking in the meantime?

Yes and no.

No, the state could not immediately open up the parking lot. On the surface, there seems to be no reason why they couldn’t, but there are several reasons. According to Chris Jessie, spokesperson for the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, keeping truck parking alive was their goal from Day 1. Unfortunately, two key components stood in the way: safety and money.

Regarding safety, security and lighting are limited when a rest area facility is under construction. Jessie explained in most similar scenarios, crime is an issue. Not necessarily because of the truckers, but because of thieves and other criminals taking advantage of the lack of lighting and security. With copper inside the building, the facility is a prime target.

Not deterred, KYTC still understood the importance of parking at the rest area. For the past several months, KYTC has been working with the Federal Highway Administration to obtain funding for a temporary solution. Kentucky is a self-insured state, so the money just was not there at the state level. Fortunately, the feds stepped in and allocated some money for temporary facilities at the rest area.

This brings us to present day. Parking will reopen soon. Jessie explained that truck parking should be available in a month or two. Rather than use those small, blue portable toilets no one likes, KYTC is looking to bring in large mobile trailers as a temporary facility. Best case scenario, construction will be completed in approximately one year.

It has been months since the fire took out the rest area, and parking has been unavailable since then. However, local, state and federal governments have been working to fix that. And they did. It may not be the fastest process, but there is some optimism knowing that truck parking was a top priority for KYTC and the feds stepped up to the plate to help.