Big rigs are tying up too many spaces on streets.
It seems a growing number of tractor-trailers and other big trucks are parking illegally on Saint Paul streets. The problem has arisen as the trucking industry hires more independent contractors who have no other place to park. The city is studying ways to address the issue.
Trucking companies give their own drivers places to park off-street. Independent contractors are parking wherever they can find space. That includes a stretch of Marshall Avenue east of Snelling Avenue where four or five rigs can be found parked at one time. The tractor-trailers were parking on both sides of Marshall before barriers were placed along the south side of the avenue.
Among the solutions being considered by the city are new parking restrictions similar to those adopted in Minneapolis last year, and designating off-street places where tractor-trailer operators can park. However, the city does not have any parking lots of its own that are large enough to accommodate tractor-trailers.
Trucking has become a lucrative business for many recent immigrants to Saint Paul, according to City Council member Jane Prince. Her colleagues on the council agreed they need to strike a balance between making it possible for independent contractors to work and not having tractor-trailers parked on streets all over the city. The vehicles obstruct sight lines and take up parking spaces needed by others.
According to city engineer Randy Newton, there has been a 24 percent increase in the number of trucks serving the shipping and freight industry locally. Contributing to the parking shortage are increased wait times to unload trucks once a rig reaches its destination and federal regulations that limit how many hours a trucker may drive before stopping to rest.
Tractor-trailers in Saint Paul can legally park along streets only in industrial areas. The city also limits on-street parking for any type of motor vehicle in any one spot to a maximum of 48 hours. However, Saint Paul has only two or three parking enforcement officers working at any one time.
Of the city’s 17,000-plus parking enforcement calls in 2021, 400 were related to commercial vehicles. Parking tickets do not seem to be a deterrent for many commercial truckers, according to Saint Paul deputy police chief Stacy Murphy. Towing an illegally parked tractor-trailer can cost more than $500 per hour, and the city’s impound lot is typically full.
The Minneapolis City Council voted last July to ban on-street parking for tractor-trailers and any vehicle weighing more than 26,000 pounds. Vehicles over 10,000 pounds are prohibited from parking in residential districts. The Minneapolis regulations took effect on January 1. The $100 fine for violations increases to $250 by 2024.
Trucking industry representatives have objected to the on-street parking bans, citing a 2019 Minnesota Department of Transportation study that highlighted the scarcity of truck parking areas across the state and especially in the Twin Cities.
The Minnesota Trucking Association did not respond to a request for comment on Saint Paul’s truck parking study.
— Jane McClure
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