December 9, 2022
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The sixth annual PennDOT Innovations Challenge hosted by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation will encourage participating high school students to use their creative problem-solving abilities to help address the shortage of commercial truck parking along major interstate corridors statewide. The entry deadline for this contest is January 27, 2023.

[Above photo by PennDOT]

“Pennsylvania is a critical freight corridor, and it’s important that commercial drivers have adequate safe parking along our roadway network,” said PennDOT Secretary Yassmin Gramian in a statement.

PennDOT Sec. Gramian. Photo by PennDOT.

“I’m excited to see the creative ideas that the students bring to this year’s challenge,” she added. “In addition to the challenge itself, we hope that this experience will open students’ minds to the possibility of a career in transportation after graduation, maybe even with PennDOT.”

The agency said trucks parking on highway shoulders and ramps is common during overnight hours and presents a significant safety issue. As just-in-time deliveries continue to be the mainstay of global business, the demand for truck parking will continue to increase, PennDOT pointed out.

[Editor’s note: The U.S. Department of Transportation recently issued a new “handbook” for states that provides best practices for designing and constructing new truck parking facilities along the nation’s interstate system.]

Federal hours-of-service regulations require more down time for drivers, PennDOT noted, which translates into an increased demand for truck parking, and many local governments have strict ordinances against overnight truck parking in their communities.

Photo by to PennDOT

The challenge asks students to select one of Pennsylvania’s interstate corridors where truck parking is a known issue and develop an innovative approach to increase commercial truck parking availability in that area and offset costs incurred for construction.

The solution must consider local ordinances and zoning laws for the area selected, commercial entity interaction in land development, community impact, restroom facilities, and space requirements for commercial trucks that are generally 70-80 feet long.

Regional Innovations Challenge winners will present their solutions to the PennDOT secretary and a panel of judges, who will determine the statewide winner.

For this year’s challenge, the Associated Pennsylvania Constructors donated $2,500 and the American Council of Engineering Companies of Pennsylvania donated $1,500 for a combined total award of $4,000 to the statewide winning team.

editor@aashto.org

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