I've been to the place that bills itself as “The World's Largest Truckstop” but I am not sure I'd regard the Iowa 80 Truckstop (off I-80's Exit 284) as a truck city — that might be stretching it a bit.
On the other hand, across the pond they are now talking up “truck villages,” large truckstops developed with driver comfort in mind but largely inspired by the need to increase transit times while boosting highway safety and better protecting truck cargo.
Officially unveiled this fall at the European Road Transport Show in Amsterdam, TruckCity was designed by its creator, the multinational Netherlands-based TCN Property Projects, specifically to leverage developments in the growing realm of European trucking.
“In the near future, ‘truck villages’ will spring up along vital international transport routes and near logistics junctions, such as airports and seaports,” according to TCN Property Partners. “Comprising at least six hectares [about 15 acres], these villages will offer drivers and transporters everything their hearts desire - all under one roof, 24 hours per day and seven days per week.”
Arnold Doornekamp, director of TruckCity, said that stricter driving time legislation and increased traffic on the roads is making it more difficult for transport companies to meet delivery windows and this in turn impacts safety and makes a TruckCity very attractive.
“The pressure on truckers increases.. and this can prove rather dangerous since rest and maintenance are the two aspects that end up falling by the wayside,” said Doornekamp. “TruckCity offers a solution to this problem: maintenance may be performed on the complete truck combination during the driver's rest period.”
The first two locations in an envisioned chain of some 50 TruckCity facilities will be at Emmen, in the Rotterdam, Netherlands port area, and at the logistics junction known as Slubice in Poland. TCN Property Partners noted that five other locations will be developed in the Netherlands as well.
A key feature of each TruckCity will be secure parking to “guarantee the safety of freight and driver.” The developers point out that Europe-wide losses resulting from theft amount to a whopping 8.2 billion Euros ($12 billion) a year.
“Drivers will find comfort and a sense of home here [at TruckCity],” according to the company, “thanks to facilities such as hotel and catering services and fitness and relaxation areas.”
Sounds like a truckstop to me-a very nice one. And having visited the impressive equivalents of Interstate highway rest areas along Germany's Autobahn, it's safe to say these truck villages will resemble U.S. facilities only at first glance.
More than likely European truckers will find their TruckCity will be built to look, act and feel modern — boasting clean, unobtrusive design inside and out as well as the latest in wired and wireless connectivity, including a thick menu of entertainment options, and full attention to environmental concerns.
At the truck show Alderman Gezienes Evenhuis inked the first agreement with TruckCity on behalf of the City of Emmen. “I am extremely pleased that the first TruckCity will be established in our town,” declared Evenhuis. “TruckCity will significantly strengthen the logistics sector in Emmen and surrounding area, both economically and in the field of safety.”
While it's long been said the Dutch are a tolerant people, I think the alderman was not there because he or the good people of Emmen love (or tolerate) trucks any more than anyone else but because he and his constituents understand the role of trucking in the economy of their city, their nation and the European Union.
We may not need a TruckCity over here but we sure could do with more people who think like that!