A Marshall, Illinois, resident recently told U.S. Rep. Mike Bost that a nearby truck stop along Interstate 70 East had been closed for years due to a plumbing problem.
Bost, who hails from a trucking family, hopes states can address such issues by applying for some of the hundreds of millions of dollars in funding proposed in the Truck Parking Safety Improvement Act he helped reintroduce.
The congressman shared his perspective on this year’s legislation — and why he thinks the stars have aligned to pass it — in a phone interview with Transport Dive last week.
This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.
TRANSPORT DIVE: How have the stars aligned politically to pass a truck parking law this year?
U.S. REP. MIKE BOST: Mainly because of the way we're trying to work across the aisle, as well as across the Rotunda, to make sure we have a four-corners agreement. Last year, we got Democratic Committee Chairman Peter DeFazio to all of a sudden realize this is vitally important.
It's vitally important to the people that are professional truck drivers and their safety, but also for the safety of every other person who shares the highway. There's no doubt that having more truck parking available would be safer for all involved.
So, it seems like the stars are aligning. Unfortunately, last time, it didn't move until late in the session, and therefore it was not able to move in the Senate. So we're hoping that we get it moving early, we get it over there to the Senate, and then we pick it up.
Having the accompanying legislation filed in the Senate must help move that process along, right?
BOST: Right. And I'm not picky about that. I would love to see my bill be the one picked up by them. But if they send one over, I'll pick it up.
If the legislation is passed by Congress, do you expect President Biden to sign it?
BOST: This isn't a partisan thing at all, so I believe the president would sign it. I’ve got a feeling it may end up going with some other form of safety or transportation bill. A standalone bill in Congress is just very rare. As long as there's no controversial issues in whatever it’s tied with, I see the president definitely signing this.
Why is the funding earmarked for parking projects?
BOST: Right now, the states could do this expansion themselves if they wanted. But if you send them highway money, they're not going to use it on parking areas. They're going to use it on highways, because I know every state is suffering trying to get their highway funds, even with the transportation bill and the infrastructure bill we passed.
How many projects would this legislation fund?
BOST: That's going to be dependent on the amount of states and departments of transportation that realize this is available. It will be up to the state legislators to encourage their states to get involved and get it done.
What else should our readers in the trucking industry know about this effort?
BOST: We are going to be pushing it very, very hard to make sure it gets through through both houses this year and onto the president’s desk.