According to the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA), there’s only one parking spot for every 11 trucks on the road today. That’s a nationwide shortage the OOIDA says of more than 40,000 parking spaces available to those driving cargo along the country’s highways and byways.
On Tuesday, Caldwell County Commissioners Court took a step to mitigate the issue in their region when they shared that the County is approved for a US Department of Transportation (USDOT) RAISE Grant in the amount of $22.9 million to design and construct a commercial truck parking plaza near SH 130 and the San Marcos Highway SH 80 intersection. The county judge will now negotiate the required grant documents with the USDOT and SH 130 Concession Company, who is supporting the grant.
“SH 130 Concession Company is thrilled to be partnering with Caldwell County on this important project for our region. Freight and commercial vehicle traffic has increased significantly along SH 130 over the past few years. The lack of available truck parking is a major issue facing the trucking industry not just in Texas, but across the United States,” said James Lovett, Director of Government Relations and Public Affairs for the SH 130 Concession Company. “This project will provide short and long-term truck parking spaces, as well as amenities and safety features that drivers value.”
The plaza will include approximately 20 short-term and 100 long-term truck spaces, entry/exit gate control, lighting, fencing, a rest stop with restrooms and showers, and amenities, all with 24 hour monitored security.
“The development of this advanced travel plaza will improve freight connectivity, enhance public safety and support economic growth in our region,” Lovett said. “We look forward to working with our partners at Caldwell County, USDOT and TxDOT to make this project a success for our community.”
Caldwell County Judge Hoppy Haden agrees that it will not only improve public safety, but relieve congestion, too.
“We are excited to be a part of making this facility a reality for truck drivers,” Haden said. “Currently, there is a significant shortage of short-and long-term parking for truck drivers.”
Haden said this creates a safety hazard not only for the truck drivers, but also for the public.
“This facility will also encourage truck drivers to use SH 130 rather than IH 35. It is our hope that diverting truck traffic from IH 35 to SH 130 will relieve congestion on IH 35 in our region and improve safety on IH 35,” he added.
Dennis Engelke, Grants Administrator for Caldwell County says it fulfills many needs in the region.
“The Advanced Travel Plaza is an example of a project that fulfills the region’s Innovation Corridor posturing,” Engelke said. “The project provides significant job creation, a secured parking facility for truckers and the inclusion of a communications tower that will enhance broadband connectivity in the area.”
Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg announced in late June, more than $2.2 billion in Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity grants were awarded to 162 projects around the country.
The RAISE grant program was expanded under the 2021 infrastructure law and supports communities of all sizes, with half of the fiscal year 2023 funding going to rural areas and the other half to urban areas.
"Safety will be addressed by constructing truck parking that will help reduce crashes and fatalities involving trucks parked in unauthorized locations," according to DOT. "The project also aims to encourage truck drivers to use SH 130 rather than I-35 to diversify the traffic load and reduce crashes on the interstate. Innovation was addressed throughout the development of a mobile application to help truck drivers find and reserve available parking at a safe facility.”