FRONT ROYAL Ãƒ‚Ã¢€“ Virginia Department of Transportation purchased an empty lot along the eastbound lanes of Interstate 66 in Warren County decades ago for future development. Now, it has been chosen as a pilot location for trucks-only rest areas in the commonwealth.
The additional parking for truckers, which is the paved lot near mile marker 4 will start today. This was indicated in the news release from Gov. Bob McDonnell's office. The parking area will be open around the clock, seven days a week, for 90 days.
"To ensure they drive safely, truckers need secure places to park and rest," McDonnell says. "Anyone who has passed our full-service rest areas at night or the early morning can see that many are filled to capacity with trucks."
The local government came to know of the issue as well.
VDOT was approached by the Warren County Board of Supervisors, just recently, having concerns regarding overnight parking at the county's interchanges and businesses.
According to board chairman Archie A.Fox, what they have witnessed is that the trucks pull off on the side of the [I-66] ramp, which he believes will atone for a dangerous situation. He also noticed some are parking at the Wal-Mart just to get some rest.
According to a news release, the pilot project will look to use properties which are undeveloped at the littlest cost to the commonwealth. Currently, in Alleghany County a comparable trucks-only rest area is in use on I-64.
The lot in Warren is owned by VDOT since crews started working on I-66 in the late 1960s, according to Stacy Sager, the coordinator for the agency's area maintenance program.
The rest area was prepared by repaving the ramps to minimize rumble strip noise and bolster pavement strength. Also, signs and pavement markings will be set up, stated in the release. No new buildings will be erected, and no plans whatsoever for additional lighting. There will be portable toilets and trash receptacles will be included and serviced.
The area can hold between 20 and 40 heavy-axle trucks, according to Sager.
P. Dale Bennett, president of the Virginia Trucking Association in Richmond, said the trucks-only rest area will cater to an important need within the industry, specifically as the economy keep on progressing and more truckers are hauling.
"We commend the governor for taking this step to determine whether [such sites are] feasible," he said.
Bennett said long-haul truckers really don't like to park on interstate ramps and in the parking lots of businesses.
"The fact that this is government property that will be monitored by the state police" as well as the Warren County Sheriff's Office gives the concept some traction, he said. According to him, despite the fact that I-81 carries more trucks than I-66, some drivers would resort to driving out of their way for a safe, secure place to park, and rest.
After the 90-day trial, it will be followed by a 60-day evaluation period during which the I-66 rest area will stay accessible.
Depending the results of the project, other truck parking facilities will be considered on or near other Virginia interstates.
According to Fox the board is delighted that Warren County was selected for the pilot. He would also like to see the state inspect a comparable undeveloped rest area in Fauquier County near Linden if the pilot is successful.
He said that getting one tired, weary truck driver off the road and save a life is very much worth it.