Arkansas Department of Transportation opens commercial truck park in West Memphis

by Talk Business & Politics staff ([email protected]) 1,067 views 

The Arkansas Department of Transportation has opened an 84-space commercial truck park in West Memphis. The $6 million facility will provide a rest area for the more than 20,000 commercial trucks that pass through West Memphis each day.

In 2013, Arkansas’ trucking industry lobbied for a 15% increase in their own registration fees, in part to fund the Arkansas Commercial Truck Safety and Education Program. This program has afforded projects like the West Memphis parking expansion.

“This expansion is the fruit of more than a decade of labor by Arkansas’ trucking industry,” said Arkansas Trucking Association President Shannon Newton. “A parking lot might not seem like an exciting enhancement to our state’s highway system, but for the 87% of Arkansas communities that rely exclusively on trucks to deliver milk to their grocery stores, medicine to their pharmacies and furniture to their homes, this is a critical piece of infrastructure.”

According to the American Transportation Research Institute, for the last three years, truck drivers have indicated that the parking shortage is their number one concern. The U.S. Department of Transportation indicates that 98% of truck drivers regularly experience difficulties finding safe parking. For the roughly 3.5 million truck drivers in the U.S., there are only about 313,000 trucking spaces.

Truck drivers give up an average of 56 minutes of available drive time per day parking early rather than risking not being able to find parking down the road. The time spent looking for available truck parking costs the average driver about $5,500 annually in lost compensation, according to American Trucking Associations data.

“The issue of safe and available truck parking touches every issue that is important to our industry. It impacts our commercial driver’s safety and well-being. It impacts how efficiently our industry can deliver and whether it can grow,” Newton said. “Not only is it a concern to current drivers, but it also negatively impacts our ability to recruit additional individuals into this industry, and it constrains our efficiency while charged with moving 92% of the manufactured goods in this state.”

The need for additional parking in West Memphis was amplified in 2021 with the closure of the I-40 bridge in Memphis.

“The I-40 bridge is a vital connector of east and west coast commerce and the three-month closure had a significant national impact on trade, trucking and costs in the supply chain,” Newton said.

Congestion in the area was so severe that the I-55 at I-40 connection ranked No. 42 on the American Transportation Research Institute’s list of top 100 worst bottlenecks in the country for 2022, breaching the top 100 for the first time.

“We recognize the critical need to provide safe, reliable parking for the professional drivers who travel our roads every day to deliver life’s essentials, and are happy to celebrate the opening of the truck parking facility in West Memphis,” Newton said. “Thank you to ARDOT for overseeing this project, the ACTSEP committee for prioritizing truck parking and to the entire trucking industry for helping fund it.”