MnDOT offers technology to help drivers find safe parking spaces

Published 8:52 pm Thursday, January 10, 2019

Minnesota is one of eight states participating in the country’s first multi-state truck parking information management system to help truck drivers find safe and legal parking. The Minnesota Department of Transportation installed the technology at six rest areas in the state, including the Heath Creek rest area on the I-35 corridor in Rice County. A seventh rest area will go online next spring.

The technology collects and broadcasts real-time information to dynamic message signs along the Interstate 35 and I-94 freight corridors to alert truck drivers about the number of available parking spaces ahead. Truckers and dispatchers can also access the information on the 511 traveler information system and smart phone applications. The 511 system will include a text and email notification feature that will be available in mid-January.

“This technology makes the regional freight corridor system safer and more efficient,” said Dan Rowe, state project manager. “Drivers can plan their routes better and make safer, smarter parking decisions.”

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Truckers often spend an hour or more looking for safe parking. They end up parking in illegal and unsafe places such as ramps and shoulders.

“Hours of service limits force truckers to park in areas other than the rest areas, which fill up quickly,” Rowe said. “Well-rested drivers mean fewer fatigue-related crashes.”

Other benefits of the system include more efficient movement of goods, reduced fuel consumption and emissions, and less non-routine maintenance repairs on highway shoulders and ramps.

The technology is also available at the Lake Lakota, Big Spunk Lake, Enfield, Forest Lake and Elm Creek rest areas along the I-94 corridor. The St. Croix rest area on I-94 will be operational in the spring.

The system was funded with a $25 million federal TIGER grant in 2015. Minnesota received $1.2 million from the grant and contributed another $177,500. Other states in the region include Kansas, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin.

Project partners include the Mid America Association of State Transportation Officials. More information is at