Iowa deploying truck parking information management system on I-80 corridor

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As part of an eight-state initiative, the Iowa Department of Transportation is implementing the infrastructure and smart technology necessary for professional truck drivers to make safer, more timely parking decisions along the Interstate 80 corridor.

Iowa DOT’s truck parking information management system will provide drivers with real-time, in-cab information on truck parking availability at public rest areas and private truck stops along the 300 miles (483km) of the I-80 corridor in the state. The Interstate is a major east-west freight corridor that runs from San Francisco in California to Teaneck, New Jersey. In 2014, the state’s western portion carried 8,200 trucks per day, while the eastern section saw a daily usage of 12,000 trucks. According to Iowa DOT, this freight traffic represents

30-40% of the state’s total traffic volume, and by 2040, the agency projects truck traffic will grow to 12,000 trucks per day on the western segment of I-80 and 24,000 trucks per day on the eastern section.

Iowa DOT’s truck parking information management system will collect truck parking availability data using a variety of in-pavement and entrance/exit ramp sensors. The department plans to install the truck parking technology at 21 public rest areas and at least 16 private truck stops along I-80. Parking information will be available through Iowa’s 511 Traveler Information System, as well as being made available as a data feed that can be used in existing and future in-cab routing systems, and a hands-free Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration-compliant (FMCSA) mobile app.

The initiative is part of a larger Mid America Association of State Transportation Officials effort being funded in part through a US$25m federal Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant awarded to eight partnering states: Iowa, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin. While each state is responsible for implementing its own truck parking information management system, the states’ systems will eventually interconnect into a regional system. Iowa’s section of the system is expected to be fully operational by January 2019.

“We are committed to providing the means for safe, efficient, and convenient travel throughout the state. Having this system in place will help truck drivers better manage their hours of service, and provide a safer, more efficient travel experience for motorists along

I-80,” said Phil Mescher, an Iowa DOT transportation planner. “Availability and awareness of available truck parking is an ongoing national highway safety concern, which our system will address head-on.”

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Tom has edited Traffic Technology International magazine and the Traffic Technology Today website since he joined the company in May 2014. Prior to this he worked on some of the UK's leading consumer magazine titles including Men's Health and Glamour, beginning his career in journalism in 1997 after graduating with a law degree from the London School of Economics (LSE).

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