While a deal was reached early this morning to end the Minnesota government shutdown, with Gov. Mark Dayton expected to sign it today, the impact it left on trucking is significant.
Truckers who had to rearrange trips and jockey for parking spots in the state since state-controlled rest areas were shutdown in the budget crisis can now breathe a sigh of relief, but before the deal was reached in Week 3 of the shutdown, many felt the frustration.
Truck drivers had overrun truck stops and gas stations and it’s been reported that some were forced to parking illegally on the highway as a result of the closed rest stops.
“There ain’t enough truck stops in the state of Minnesota to begin with,” trucker Dennis Ziegler, told the Star Tribune. Ziegler said he drives through Minnesota about once a week. “The few that we have, there aren’t enough spots.”
At the MegaStop Holiday truck stop in Lakeville, truckers had to show up early to vie for parking spots. James Raymer, told the Star Tribune he decided to cut his day short to get a spot.
“After 4 p.m., what do you think this lot would look like? I wouldn’t have had a place to park,” he said. Raymer said he had difficulty finding spots to park in the state even before the shutdown.
Besides being inconvenient, having to shut down early to get a place to park costs truckers money, because it means fewer hours on the road, said John Hausladen, president & CEO of the Minnesota Trucking Assn. “If I get there after I’ve only worked 10 hours, I just lost four hours of productive time.”
The shutdown also posed challenges for trucking companies. Hausladen told the Twin Cities Business that the shutdown greatly hindered his members’ ability to obtain federally mandated credentials for drivers — including driving records and hazardous materials designations.
“As an industry, we want to be safe, we want to comply with all of these many, many, many regulations, and yet the state of Minnesota is now standing in our way and preventing us from complying,” Hausladen said. “And yet if we break these rules, we will be given no leeway.”
Trucking companies also had difficulty obtaining license plates for new vehicles and multi-state trucking agreements have been disrupted, according to Hausladen.
“With this shutdown, there’s a really important interplay between federal regulations, multi-state agreements, and one state deciding to not play ball,” Hausladen said.
According to KOAT Channel 7, residents and truckers will still feel the effects of the shutdown for a few more days as the state slowly returns to normal and workers return to work.