Minnesota Shutdown Troubles Truckers

From the cab on an 18-wheeler, a government shutdown means fewer places to park, as truckers driving in and through Minnesota found over the past two weeks.

State-operated highway rest stops were closed by the impasse over the state budget, and they remain closed despite a tentative agreement on a budget compromise.

The lack of adequate truck parking is a problem throughout the United States, but a statewide government shutdown makes Minnesota a trouble spot for tired truckers.

The Minnesota Trucking Association tried but failed to get a court to declare rest areas a “critical” service that must remain open during a government shutdown.

“Minnesota truck stops are already overcapacity” at certain times of the day, MTA president John Hausladen tells a local television station in this YouTube video.

Nicole Norfleet of the Star Tribune reports commercial truck stops in Minnesota are crammed with truck drivers, and motels that offer truck parking fill up fast.

All this makes it harder for truck drivers to comply with federal regulations that set the time they can spend behind the wheel and how much rest they need.

The situation makes it tougher for shippers to schedule pickups and deliveries, and it’s already creating parking problems at rest areas in states such as Wisconsin.

Worst of all, it can put truck drivers and motorists in dangerous situations, especially if truckers drive beyond legal hours looking for parking or park illegally.

That’s not something politicians think about when battling over whom to tax and what programs to cut, but it’s a burden on businesses and citizens.

By the way, the Department of Transportation in May gave $6.5 million to Minnesota and Michigan to help those states find parking spots for truckers.

Where did the state park that money during the shutdown?

-- Contact William B. Cassidy at wcassidy@joc.com. Follow him on Twitter @wbcassidy_joc.

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