Trucking Groups Say Reopening 13 PennDOT Rest Areas “Not Good Enough!”
Updated: Friday, March 20 @ 7:30 p.m.
Harrisburg, PA – Multiple trucking industry groups are calling the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation’s (PennDOT) decision to partially reopen thirteen of its rest areas “not good enough.”
Under intense pressure from the trucking industry, PennDOT announced on Wednesday that it was partially reopening thirteen rest areas the Department had previously closed down due to COVID-19 concerns.
Click HERE to view each of the locations PennDOT partially reopened on Thursday.
Transportation Nation Network (TNN) was the first to report on Tuesday that PennDOT was closing all rest areas statewide which prompted an immediate backlash among industry stakeholders.
The American Trucking Associations (ATA), Owner Operator Independent Driver’s Association (OOIDA), Truckload Carriers Association (TCA) and Small Business in Transportation Coalition (SBTC) each immediately voiced concerns over the closures.
PennDOT’s decision on Wednesday to reverse course, at least partially at thirteen locations, has not done much to quell the anger regarding the issue.
On Thursday, OOIDA’s Land Line reported the group is not at all satisfied.
“The news of Pennsylvania reopening less than half of its rest areas shows the state’s leadership still doesn’t understand what needs to be done to ensure the safety of truckers during a national emergency,” said Collin Long, OOIDA’s director of government affairs. “Pennsylvania officials may be trying to save face after being the only state in the country to implement such a short-sighted policy at a time like this and earn universal scorn from our industry as a result.”
OOIDA says it intends to continue to hold PennDOT accountable “until they have reopened all of their rest areas.”
Echoing similar sentiments to TNN was Dave Heller, TCA’s vice president of government affairs.
“It’s a start, but it is not an ending,” he said.
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Heller says Pennsylvania officials must “listen more” to the concerns of the men and women “restocking America.”
He says TCA will continue to speak up on the matter until all PennDOT rest areas are open again.
“We have vocalized our concern on this issue and will continue to do so.”
The Latest Update
On Friday, TNN spoke with Jennifer Kuntch, PennDOT’s deputy communications director, about the ongoing furor over the remaining closures.
Kuntch acknowledged the backlash from the trucking community played a significant role in the partial reopenings.
“We had conversations with the industry that informed our adjustments,” she said.
Still, seventeen PennDOT rest areas remain closed.
More Possible Reopenings
TNN has learned PennDOT is considering reopening an additional three rest areas along “high trafficked trucking routes.”
Though Kuntch would not identify specific locations that could soon be reopened, she did acknowledge those discussions are ongoing.
“We are constantly reevaluating the measures we’ve taken,” she stated.
Truckers Sound Off on TNN’s Social Media
Upon learning the news of the partial reopenings this week, many truckers sounded off on TNN’s social media pages.
Shawn DoBoer wrote, “They should never have been closed!”
Mark Macak said rest areas should be reopened, but just for truckers.
“Rest areas should be closed to general public if anything and allow only truckers in them. They need trucks… we need places to park,” he urged.
Damon E. Clayton expressed appreciation to all those went are fighting to have the rest areas reopened.
“They only reopened because of all the backlash. Good to have parking and appreciate everyone that raised hell or else they would all still be closed,” he wrote.
PA Turnpike Reopens ALL 17 Service Plazas
The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission (PTC) also shut down all 17 of its service plazas this week.
In a reversal on Thursday, the PTC now says each plaza was reopened Friday morning.
Click HERE to read the latest developments on this story.