New truck parking area opens in St. Albans
Motorists traveling on W.Va. 817 near St. Albans likely have noticed a relatively new truck parking area built along the east side of the road.
The lot has six long truck parking spaces, and is large enough for additional trucks. Directional signs on W.Va. 817 inform truckers of the lot, which is accessible via Industrial Road.
Work was completed on the $385,000 project in May. Of that amount, $300,000 was paid by a federal grant from the Truck Parking Facilities Discretionary Program.
The grant was awarded in 2012, and the W.Va. 817 parking project was one of six recipients selected nationwide out of 23 submitted applications. The grant description mentioned a "severe shortage of truck parking spaces in the Charleston area."
"There was just a need," state Department of Transportation spokeswoman Carrie Bly said.
Bly said truck traffic on W.Va. 817 is still high, in part due to the John Amos Power Plant in Putnam County. In addition, the route is used as an interstate detour, a situation that occurred in June when a multi-vehicle pileup blocked the I-64 bridge over the Kanawha River.
The same federal grant program provided $500,000 in 2011 to help construct 28 truck parking spaces along Interstate 81 in Berkeley County.
For truckers, the additional parking is likely needed.
There are no interstate rest areas in Kanawha County, except for two travel plazas along the West Virginia Turnpike. There are a few private locations with lots large enough for trucks to park, notably at Go Marts near interstate routes.
Outside of the county, a Pilot truck stop is located in Nitro, a Travel Centers of America stop is in Hurricane and a Love's truck stop is in Ripley
"As for Kanawha County, there's just not much," said Jan Vineyard, president of the West Virginia Trucking Association, which advocates for various facets of
the trucking industry. The extra space could be more important now than ever, after new federal regulations took effect in July that further limits the number of hours a truck driver can drive per week. Drivers are now limited to 70 hours, from 82 hours previously.
The U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration put the regulations in place with the goal of increasing highway safety.
The regulations also require truck drivers to take a 30-minute break during the first eight hours of a shift, and rest for 34 consecutive hours if they reach the 70-hour per week limit before resuming driving. Those 34 hours must include at least two nights of rest.
The result is that trucks will spend a bit more time off the road than before.
"You'll start to see more trucks parked along the side of the road," Vineyard said.
Vineyard added that it's important to remember that while cars can find numerous places to park, tractor trailers and other large trucks don't always have that luxury due to their size.
"We can't just pull off the side of the road," she said.
Contact writer Matt Murphy at Matt.Murphy@dailymail.com or 304-348-4817.