The Iowa Department of Transportation is in the beginning stages of establishing technology that will monitor truck parking availability and alert truckers. Initially, the technology will be available along the Interstate 80 corridor.
According to Phil Mescher, Iowa DOT project manager and transportation planner, smart truck parking will be available at 16 private truck stops and 21 public rest areas on the I-80 corridor by January 2019. IDOT will monitor the program for three years and possibly expand the technology to other locations if proven successful.
Currently, the state is conducting in-person interviews with four consulting vendors. Candidates will assess which technologies will work best for Iowa’s needs. Popular methods include laser/radar technology that senses empty spots and relays that information to dynamic message signs, third-party apps, state 511 website and in-cab computer systems.
A contract is expected to be awarded by September. Mescher said a full year will be needed for implementation, including construction. Per TIGER grant terms, the program is required to go live by Jan. 4, 2019.
In October 2015, eight states in the Midwest were awarded a TIGER grant worth $25 million between all the states. The grant sought to implement a regional truck parking information management system where truckers will be provided with reliable, real-time information on parking availability.
Kansas, Kentucky, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin all received a portion of the TIGER grant. The states’ projects comprise Regional Truck Parking Information and Management System Project. The TIGER grant will use existing intelligent transportation systems on major truck routes in the eight states.
The project applies to state Department of Transportation-owned and private truck rest areas. When completed, the project will be one of the largest geographic areas of intelligent transportation systems deployment of truck parking technology in the country, according to a U.S. Department of Transportation news release.
Each state received about $2 million to more than $3 million. All eight states also will contribute a 10 percent match of the deployment costs. Iowa was awarded about $3.4 million and contributed nearly $500,000, bringing the total funding of the program to $3.8 million. Iowa received the second highest amount, followed by Indiana, which received $4.1 million