Big rigs would no longer be able to park along most Saint Paul streets if proposed regulations are adopted this month. The City Council will hold a public hearing on the changes on May 17. If approved, the new rules could take effect in late June.

Drivers employed by trucking companies have designated places to park the rigs at their places of business. However, independent truckers who own their own big rigs have to find their own spots. There are an estimated 200 independent trucking contractors in Saint Paul whose semi-tractors and tractor-trailers park largely on city streets.

“We’re getting more complaints…our streets are really not designed for truck parking,” said Randy Newton, an engineer for the city’s Department of Public Works.

City Council members and staff formed a working group last year to study regulatory changes for where the big rigs can and cannot park. Currently, when the city bans truck parking in one area, the trucks just move to another. Newton called it a “whack-a-mole” situation.

The big rigs have lately been lining some local streets, including Marshall Avenue east of Snelling Avenue. The Highland District Council’s Transportation Committee has fielded several complaints about truck parking, from both residents and businesses whose own trucks cannot easily access their properties. Business owners around the city have also complained that their customers cannot park nearby.

“We want to acknowledge that this is a problem,” said council president Amy Brendmoen. She said she recently watched small children having to walk between large trucks to get to their school bus.

“We’re getting more complaints…our streets are really not designed for truck parking,” said Randy Newton, an engineer for the city’s Department of Public Works.

Proposed rules similar to those in Minneapolis

Currently, big rigs can legally be parked on streets in industrially zoned areas of the city. Saint Paul limits on-street parking in any one spot to 48 hours at a time for any type of motor vehicle.

Saint Paul’s proposed ordinance amendments mirror those of Minneapolis, which voted last July to ban vehicles weighing more than 26,000 pounds from parking on city streets. Vehicles over 10,000 pounds are prohibited from parking in residential districts.

If similar changes are adopted in Saint Paul, vehicles weighing more than 26,000 pounds would only be allowed to park on city streets if they are loading, unloading or providing a service. Vehicles over 10,000 pounds would be prohibited from parking in residential districts. However, business owners could request that large trucks be allowed to park near their properties.

The city’s $40 parking fine for trucks would increase to $150 starting next January and then to $250 in July.

City officials recently met with about a dozen independent trucking operators who have expressed opposition to the changes. Newton said the changes are recommended since parking enforcement resources are limited and current fines do not appear to be a deterrent. Another issue is the difficulty in towing large trucks in terms of cost, capacity and storage. He added that city’s current regulations are not easy to interpret.

According to Newton, a regional parking solution is needed to accommodate large trucks. Council members agreed.

— Jane McClure


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