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System now gives updated information on open parking spots to truckers

DES MOINES — Operators of big rigs traveling through Iowa and seven other states are starting to take advantage of a new system designed to make it easier for commercial drivers to locate parking in rest areas and private truck stops.

Phil Mescher with the Iowa DOT’s Office of Systems Planning, says the effort was launched several years ago and went “live” earlier this month. “People can travel all across our interstate system and at certain times see overcrowding of trucks in our rest areas and truck stops,” Mescher said.

Truck drivers can get information on available parking spaces along select interstates through various smart phone apps that access a data feed provided at trucksparkhere.com.  Officials in each of the eight states that are part of the “Trucks Park Here” system chose their own state-specific plans. In Iowa, the information is focused primarily on parking spots located along Interstate 80.

“In Iowa, we picked the Interstate 80 corridor because that is where most of our truck traffic is. We have some sites that are very close to I-80,” Mescher said. “They go up I-29 and we also have one off of I-235. We go up Intestate 35 all the way to the rest areas that are south of Story City. We go up Interstate 380 as well, up to the Cedar Rapids area.” Information on the available truck parking spots in Iowa will eventually be included on the state’s 511 system (www.511ia.org). The system should help truckers who need to find a parking space before reaching limits on how many hours they can be on the road.

“It will never say that there are no spots available, it will just say the availability is low. But that at least gives them advanced information to make a decision…if they know their hours of service are about up, then they should probably go ahead and park in that first one rather than trying to risk getting to the next one,” Mescher said.

The Trucks Park Here system uses a variety of in-pavement and parking lot entrance/exit sensors. The effort was funded by a $25 million federal grant and involves the states of Iowa, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin.

Audio: Mescher on truck parking 1:04


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