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Feds hear from both sides about Philadelphia’s truck parking woes

City official tells Federal Highway Administration ‘major issue’ in residential neighborhoods is growing concern

Truck crossing the Benjamin Franklin Bridge in Philadelphia. (Photo: Jim Allen/FreightWaves)

Philadelphia residents are getting a firsthand look at a problem the trucking industry has been complaining about for years: the lack of space to park a truck.

“The problem that we face in the city of Philadelphia is land, the fact that Philadelphia is a very old city, and we now have truckers and tractor-trailers parking in residential neighborhoods,” Tascha Chalmers, director of community affairs for Philadelphia City Councilwoman Cherelle Parker, said Thursday during a virtual workshop of the National Coalition on Truck Parking hosted by the Federal Highway Administration. “As a result they’re making turns, and [electrical] wires are coming down.”

Chalmers said truckers she has spoken with say that truck stops are too far away. Many drivers have also told her that the $100 fine they get for parking in a residential area is worth the cost.

“That’s what we’re going through. We’re having a major issue here in the city, and we’re going to have to take this seriously.”

The city of Minneapolis has gotten serious about the problem too. In July, the City Council voted to modify an existing ban on truck parking in certain residential zoning districts to a citywide ban. It included some provisions to try to offset the pain it might inflict on truck drivers.

Responding to Chalmers, Desiree Wood, president of advocacy group REAL Women in Trucking, acknowledged that parking trucks in residential neighborhoods raises concerns but pointed out that the truck owners are also residents of the community.

“I understand the wires, the clearances, the old streets. But when you have drivers that live there who are also voters and constituents but are not being served — and who are serving the country, they are the supply chain — there’s a lot we can do to work together on that,” Wood said.

Watch: Desiree Wood talks truck parking, other issues affecting women drivers (12/6/21)

She added that tractor trailers cost as much as a house, “and they don’t want their truck and trailer stolen” by having to park far away. “There are concerns over where you park when you want to go home. There’s a lot of education that needs to be at the community level.”

During the workshop, consultants working with FHWA said that education on the truck parking problem raised by Chalmers can be aided through a new Truck Parking Development Handbook.

According to Cambridge Systematics, which is developing the guide in coordination with FHWA, the purpose is to present tools and strategies for local planners and officials to integrate truck parking with state freight plans. While major funding for truck parking capacity was left out of the bipartisan infrastructure bill signed into law in November, it did require every state receiving money from the law to provide an updated assessment on truck parking capacity in its freight plan.

The guidebook will identify the public benefit of truck parking and economic impact analysis using some case studies. It will also discuss factors for identifying sites and for designing truck parking, and examines attributes that ensure truck parking areas are safe.

“We really are hoping this becomes a tool used by local officials to help inform conversations about truck parking and to help communicate why it is a community issue, and not just for drivers,” said Paula Dowell, Cambridge Systematics’ freight and economics national practice lead.

The handbook, currently in draft form, will be revised using comments received during the workshop. FHWA expects the handbook to be issued sometime in the first quarter of 2022.

Click for more FreightWaves articles by John Gallagher.

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  1. Bradley

    Yeah, that should work. Let’s have a few meetings about it, decide there’s a problem, and then ban truck parking throughout the entire city to solve it.
    Great idea!

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John Gallagher

Based in Washington, D.C., John specializes in regulation and legislation affecting all sectors of freight transportation. He has covered rail, trucking and maritime issues since 1993 for a variety of publications based in the U.S. and the U.K. John began business reporting in 1993 at Broadcasting & Cable Magazine. He graduated from Florida State University majoring in English and business.