MnDOT Hopes New Technology Helps Find Truckers Places to Sleep

February 09, 2018 06:04 PM

There's no shortage of trucks out on Interstate 94.

And that can be a problem when it comes to parking.

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"The spots just aren't available," trucker Patrick Bouthilet said Friday. "There's more trucks on the road than there are spots."

That can lead to tired truckers navigating roads around-the-clock.

"You stop at one rest area," Bouthilet said. "You drive through, it's full. You're on to the next rest area. Meanwhile you're up against your hours of service that the (Department of Transportation) allows."

So how to let truck drivers know where there are open spots , and where there aren't, ahead of time?

Eight states, including Minnesota, think the answer lies in hockey-puck-shaped technology which they're now burying at some rest areas around the region.

In a nutshell, here's how it works:

The puck-shaped-tech, which is really a magnetometer, is buried beneath the rest area pavement. It can tell if there's a truck parked above it. And it sends a signal to a neighboring cabinet containing special equipment.

That equipment then relays the message to a sign five miles up the road which tells truckers if there's a place to park.

The plan, according to Minnesota Department of Transportation project manager Dan Rowe, is to equip seven Minnesota rest areas - some on the eastbound side of the road, others on the west.

"All of them are heading into the metro area, because that's where a lot of the product is dropped off," Rowe explained. "It's a win-win project for everybody."

The project has been in the works for close to a decade. And some truckers, like Bouthilet, said the change can't come soon enough.

The new technology is expected to be fully operational by 2019 at the latest.

In Minnesota, MnDOT said it will cost $1.4 million with all but $177,500 paid for by a federal grant.

Credits

Josh Rosenthal

Copyright 2018 - KSTP-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company

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