If you think you’re seeing more tractor-trailer trucks on area highways it’s not your imagination.
Freight traffic is booming in the Greater Lehigh Valley and across Pennsylvania.
The reason for the increase is simple. As more people order things online, the demand for fast delivery is increasing, with people expecting their stuff in two to three days and sometimes even overnight.
That means a need for more regional warehouses and for more trucks to deliver goods to and from them.
And while the added trucks may be getting your packages delivered to your door faster, it’s creating other problems, among them – where to park all of those trucks when they’re not being driven.
That’s a problem the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation is looking to tackle – with private-sector help.
That’s where Michael Bonini, director of the PennDOT office of Public Private Partnerships comes in.
His office has put out a request for information, or RFI, seeking help from the private sector and even private individuals on how to tackle the growing problem of finding parking for all the extra trucks that will be on the road.
“We’re interested in hearing from anyone who has an interest in freight transportation and parking,” Bonini said.
MORE FREIGHT MOVING
A study by PennDOT predicted that truck deliveries by freight volume in the state would increase 140 percent between 2011, when the study was conducted, and 2040.
“Freight movement is becoming a more important issue at PennDOT all the time,” said Brian Hare, chief of the PennDOT planning division.
The increased freight volume means more trucks on the road.
At least for now, those are still being driven by people, Hare said. And those people need rest, which means an increase in demand for parking for tractor trailer trucks.
He said you can already see a significant number of trucks lined up overnight at rest stations and sometimes even on the shoulders of highways. And the demand is only going to grow.
“It’s a safety issue to find such places for where they can park,” he said.
PennDOT and other partners in the transportation and freight industry want to find a plan to determine how to deal with that growing truck traffic and parking in the safest, easiest and most economical manner possible.
“We don’t believe it can be solved by PennDOT alone,” Hare said.
The request for information, which can be found on the website www.P3.pa.gov, asks a number of questions about how the private sector can partner with PennDOT to improve access to parking for big rigs.
< What is the private sector’s role in solving the truck parking problem, including issues related to public awareness?
< What are the primary elements needed in a successful truck parking area and how can truck drivers be attracted to privately owned/operated parking facilities?
The deadline to take the survey and offer suggestions is Dec. 12.
“We’re going to take that information and look at the ideas to help steer us to respond to the challenge,” Bonini said.
Hare said there are a number of issues to look at when adapting to the need for more truck parking.
Some are institutional, such as looking at zoning issues to assure the state is providing adequate and accessible parking.
The need for parking will also need to be addressed. Property owners and existing truck-stop operators can likely assist in those talks.
But another important issue on the table is technology, Hare said. Technology can be used by truck operators to find where and when parking can be found along a route so trips with safe stopovers can be planned in advance.
He says apps already are available that provide such assistance, but there are even more ways to explore how technology can help ease the truck-parking burden.