AUSTIN (KXAN) — We’ve all felt the frustration of looking for a parking spot, but imagine having to do it every day at work.
That’s the challenge for Texas truck drivers and those across the nation. According to the United States Department of Transportation, nationwide there’s roughly one parking spot for every 11 truckers.
Buda-based truck driver Michael Lombard knows the challenges all too well, not just from his travels around the country hauling agriculture equipment, but also from hearing the experiences of his colleagues.
“What’s going on everybody, welcome back to episode 71,” Lombard enthusiastically announced in the back of the cab of his big rig.
Using a laptop with a plug-in microphone and camera, Lombard turned his Peterbilt into a mobile podcast studio, broadcasting live from wherever in the country he happens to be.
Lombard talks trucking with drivers and other movers and shakers in the industry — and always top of mind is parking.
“It remains one of the largest issues,” he said. “There’s not enough.”
Lombard added, “I have drivers on my show say, ‘Oh, like Austin is the worst part of being on 35.’”
Lombard said truck stops fill up fast and, with nowhere else to go, truckers park along ‘on’ and ‘off’ ramps, on the side of the interstate or wherever else they can find.
“If there’s not enough safe truck parking,” Lombard said, “these trucks are going to start coming closer to residential areas.”
How truck parking troubles affect everyone — and what’s being done
That is exactly the issue neighbors in a Manor subdivision had when they contacted KXAN Investigates earlier in 2023.
“I don’t personally love it,” Carly Howard said at the time about trucks parking along a thoroughfare in their neighborhood. “You would not be able to see at all. You’d be just making a blind turn because the semis are lined up here.”
Lombard said he understands how they feel, “but they’re pointing their fingers at the wrong people,” he said. “Start calling their local leaders and their local representatives, as well as their representatives in Congress.”
In fact, at the nation’s capital, lawmakers are considering measures that would earmark $755 million over three years to construct truck parking spaces across the nation.
Lewie Pugh is with the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association. In May, he spoke in support of the funding before a congressional committee.
At the time, he told the committee, “Truckers struggle to find a safe place to park, wasting nearly an hour of productive time each day searching for a place to rest.”
That, he said, cuts into truckers’ pay and slows the supply chain because federal regulations limit the number of hours they can drive in a day.
“If this passes,” Pugh told KXAN Investigator Mike Rush, “your municipality can put in a bid to the federal government to ask for some of this money to build a parking area for trucks and it won’t even cost your town anything.”
Even when Lombard is home in Buda, he has to park on backroads around nearby hotels. And he’s got company.
“I mean, the road will be full all the way down,” he said.
He expects even more trucks will park there as new warehouses pop up just across the street.
In the meantime, Lombard plans to keep the conversation rolling on his podcast, hoping relief is just down the road.
“We’re headed towards what’s actually going to become unsustainable,” he said.
There are duplicate House and Senate bills in Congress to fund truck parking. At the time of this writing, the House bill has gotten the farthest. It passed through the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and next heads to the House floor for a vote.