Wisconsin Uses Dynamic Message Signs to Give Truckers Real-time Parking Information

AASHTO Journal, 22 December 2016

The Wisconsin Department of Transportation said it is joining several other Midwest states by installing electronic “Truck Parking Information Management Systems” near four rest areas along eastbound Interstate 94 between Dunn and Columbia counties, to provide commercial drivers better information.

capitol0816.jpgWisDOT said that technology will monitor 157 truck parking stalls at four locations – Rest Area 61 near Menomonie; Rest Area 53 near Millston; Rest Area 9 near Lyndon Station; and Rest Area 11 near Portage.

The system uses technology including sensors and cameras to create real-time information on how many truck parking spaces are available, so drivers can monitor it on dynamic roadside signs. The agency said this can enhance safety and efficiency by helping commercial drivers who are nearing their federal end-of-service hours to better plan rest periods without needing to exit the freeway and waste time and fuel looking for appropriate spaces to park and rest.

A WisDOT video (below) helps illustrate how it works.

“We’re embracing technology to help commercial drivers find the parking facilities they need when they need them,” said WisDOT Secretary Mark Gottlieb. “Considering that Wisconsin has seen a 20 percent increase in commercial truck traffic over the last four years, it’s important that we continue to take steps like this to ensure increased safety and mobility on our highways.”

That puts WisDOT among a growing number of state DOTs taking new actions to help truckers find safe places to rest. That is seen as a national challenge, since otherwise fatigued drivers may stay on the road as they look for a parking spot, or park in unauthorized or less safe locations such as an abandoned lot or roadside shoulder.

WisDOT said it offers truck parking statewide at rest areas, and at many Safety and Weight Enforcement Facilities weigh stations. It also said the 157 TPIMS stalls at the four designated eastbound I-94 rest areas were retrofitted into existing parking facilities with help from a $1 million Federal Highway Administration grant award.

All truck parking remains first-come, first-serve, while the new system creates a real-time monitor to display availability.

This is just an initial step, however. WisDOT said it plans that next spring available truck stalls will also be reported through 511 Wisconsin and third-party mobile apps.

WisDOT said it is joining neighboring states including Michigan in rolling out a TPIMS, and expects an expansion of the system next year.

Here is the video.

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