Smart truck parking
The SmartPark reservation system is not yet fully functional, but should be operational in the next few weeks. Truckers can go to www.smartpark4trucks.com to learn more. Truckers can go to http://www.smartparkingusa.com to reserve parking at the McMinn site and soon can reserve a spot at the Bradley location. A SmartPark mobile app is available at the site. Use of the site requires minimal registration.
Big-rig truckers' smartphones soon can help them find parking space along the Interstate 75 corridor in East Tennessee with the opening of a couple of new, high-tech research sites to study the feasibility of providing real-time parking information to truckers on the road.
The Tennessee Department of Transportation and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration have teamed up on the project, dubbed SmartPark. It consists of one study site already opened on the northbound side of I-75 at the rest area near the 45-mile marker south of Athens, Tenn., and another developing site at northbound mile marker 23 south of exit 25 in Cleveland.
Officials say the idea is to allow the two sites to be networked in real time so truckers can be diverted from one site to the other when spaces fill up, so they will have time to rest.
TDOT spokeswoman Jennifer Flynn said Friday that crews this week are working on the Bradley County site, a formerly unimproved trucker rest stop.
"TDOT operations crews are reworking the old parking area to accommodate several parking spaces for the project," Flynn said. "Five spots will be set aside for reservations while the other spots will be available on a first-come, first-served basis to truckers traveling the I-75 corridor."
TDOT teamed up on the project with the Motor Carrier Safety Administration, the Federal Highway Administration and Gannett Fleming in the six-month pilot project on I-75, Flynn said.
According to federal officials, the idea for SmartPark began developing more than a decade ago with a 2000 National Transportation Safety Board recommendation that the administration create a paper guide to inform truckers of locations and availability of parking.
SmartPark is "intended to reduce driver fatigue, help drivers adhere to their hours of service and enhance truckers' driving experience by increasing the accessibility of truck parking," according to the SmartParking USA website. Truck parking was first identified as a nationwide problem in the mid-1990s after Congress asked that the issue be examined by the U.S. Department of Transportation.
In Bradley, "once the parking area work is completed, additional signs will be added that will alert truckers to parking availability at this location," Flynn said. The McMinn site is already operational.
The Tennessee Highway Patrol will make use of the sites as truck inspection stations, she said.
Contact staff writer Ben Benton at bbenton@times freepress.com or twitter.com/BenBenton or www.facebook.com/ben.benton1 or 423-757-6569.