Road Infrastructure Condition
The greatest volume of trucks travel on the interstate system. This accounts for only 7.6 percent of the more than 27,186 roadway lane miles in the OKI region. Interstates are owned, operated, and maintained by their respective state department of transportation. Due to their importance to truck transport, the greatest amount of data on trucks is available for interstates.
Trucks certainly use other road classifications than interstates to access their delivery origins and destinations. These other roadways are owned and maintained by various public agencies. And they are based on designations as state or national highways and/or local jurisdictional boundaries. Truck data is available for many non-interstate roadways across the OKI region. However, there is no established standard among the numerous agencies, so data availability is not always consistent across municipal, county or state boundaries. OKI has considered this as data has been collected and shared within this Freight Plan.
National Roadway Designations
The National Highway System (NHS) is a network of strategic highways that include interstates and other roads important to the nation’s economy, defense and mobility. The NHS was developed by the United States Department of Transportation (USDOT) in cooperation with states, local officials, and metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs). (Source: Ohio Department of Transportation. (2021).) NHS Intermodal Connectors provide key first- and last-mile truck connections between the region’s important freight corridors and intermodal facilities. About 200 lane miles have been designated as NHS Intermodal Connectors in the OKI region.
The Primary Highway Freight System (PHFS) is a network of highways identified as the most critical portions of the national freight transportation system, and determined by measurable and objective national data. The OKI region’s PHFS network has approximately 1,273 lane miles.
Critical Urban Freight Corridors (CUFC) are public roads in urbanized areas that provide access to the PHFS and interstates with other important ports or intermodal freight facilities. OKI has 39.7 lane miles of CUFC. Although a metropolitan area, OKI does have five lane miles of Critical Rural Freight Corridors (CRFC) designated. The only difference between CUFCs and CRFCs, is that CRFCs are not located within the urbanized area.
Alternative Fuels Corridors
Alternative Fuels Corridors are designated by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) to establish a national network of charging and fueling infrastructure along national highway system corridors. FHWA’s three primary goals for the Alternative Fuels Corridor network are to:
- Accelerate equitable adoption of Electric Vehicles (EVs), including for those who cannot reliably charge at home.
- Reduce transportation-related greenhouse gas emissions and help put the United States on a path to net-zero emissions by no later than 2050.
- Position U.S. industries to lead global transportation electrification efforts and help create family-sustaining union jobs that cannot be outsourced.
More than 2,600 miles of Alternative Fuels Corridor lane miles have been designated within the OKI region. More than 40 percent of those have been for electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure. No lane miles have been designated in the region for hydrogen fueling infrastructure
Hazardous Material Restricted Routes
The OKI region has two hazardous material restricted routes. One route is designated code “A” and covers “All Non-Radioactive Hazardous Materials” for Interstate 275 (I-275) in Campbell County. The second route has a restriction code of “0” and covers “All Hazardous Materials” on Interstates 71/75 (I-71/75) in Kenton County, including the Brent Spence Bridge. (Source: United Stated Department of Transportation, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. (2021). National Hazardous Materials Route Registry by State. [Data set].)
View the most current road designations within OKI’s Interactive Truck Map
The FHWA determines performance ratings of good, fair, or poor condition for pavement. The ratings use a combination of several metrics from data elements collected by state departments of transportation and reported to the Highway Performance Monitoring System (HPMS). These metrics quantify pavement condition based on roughness and cracking for all pavement types; rutting for asphalt pavement surfaces; and faulting or misalignment between slabs for jointed concrete pavement surfaces. Roughness affects travel speeds, safety, comfort, and transportation costs, as poor conditions could lead to vehicle damage. Cracking, rutting and faulting are considered surface indicators of structural deterioration in different pavement types.
Many factors contribute to pavement condition, including weather, age, composition, and traffic volumes. Due to their weights, trucks are viewed as another contributor to the degradation of pavement conditions. Current truck size and weight standards are a blend of federal and state regulations and laws. Federal law controls maximum gross vehicle weights and axle loads on the interstate system. Those maximums are 80,000 pounds gross vehicle weight, 20,000 pounds on a single axle, and 34,000 pounds on a tandem axle group. For perspective, a FedEx or UPS city delivery truck (FHWA Classification 5) could weigh between 10,000 and 16,000 pounds, depending on the weight of its load. (Source: United States Department of Transportation (USDOT), Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), Division of Freight Management and Operations. Report to Congress: Compilation of Existing State Truck Size and Weight Limit Laws. (2015).)
Since trucks use the same roads as other motorized vehicles, OKI did not conduct any special analysis of pavement conditions specific to truck usage. The findings reported in this summary come from OKI’s Performance Measures website, which reports on pavement conditions for the NHS. Conditions have been presented for each of the eight OKI member counties.
The findings show that for most OKI counties, and as road hierarchy transitions from interstate to state route, more centerline miles are reported to be in poor condition. Dearborn County has the highest percentage of interstate centerline miles in good condition at 86 percent. The other OKI counties have a fairly balanced percentage of good and fair interstate pavement conditions.
As for U.S. routes, half of the counties have a higher percentage of pavement in fair condition than pavement in good condition. Campbell County (14 percent) has the greatest percent of poor condition U.S Route centerline miles. Kenton County has no U.S. routes on the NHS network.
A state route pavement study shows that more centerline miles are in fair condition with slight increases in poor condition for some counties. Kenton County has the greatest amount (20 percent) of state routes in poor condition. While Dearborn County’s State Route 1 (SR 1) is not included on the NHS network, it was reported to have more than 95 percent of its pavement in fair condition in 2020.
With more than 2,000 bridges in the OKI region, 490 of which are located in the NHS, maintaining their safety and functionality is critical to keeping people and goods moving. Poorly maintained bridges can limit their use by heavier trucks or even result in complete closure, requiring drivers to take longer or less direct routes. A bridge is in good condition if its deck, superstructure, and substructure were rated in good, very good, or excellent condition.
Once again, since trucks use the same bridges as other motorized vehicles and truck counts are not available across the region for all bridges, OKI did not conduct any special analysis of bridge conditions specific to truck usage. The findings reported in this summary are from OKI’s Performance Measures website, which reports on bridge conditions for the NHS. Conditions for 2014 and 2020 are shown for each of the eight OKI member counties, allowing one to view the changes that may have occurred over these seven years.
Findings show that all counties -- except Clermont, Kenton and Warren -- had a greater percentage of their bridges in good condition in 2020 than they did in 2014. In addition, every county except Warren has a greater percentage of bridges in fair condition today than seven years ago. The bad news: Every county reported an increase in their percent of bridges in poor condition in 2020.
Brent Spence Bridge Condition
Reviewing 2014 to 2020 condition reports for the Brent Spence Bridge (BSB) shows all portions of the bridge in fair condition, except for one portion that was stated as poor in 2016. During this time, the bridge was repaired and painted, which likely explains why the 2016 poor rated section does not appear in more recent reports.
Even with the one poor section of the bridge, in 2016 the BSB was reported structurally strong with a sufficiency rating of 64.0 out of a possible 100 points in the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet’s Kentucky Statewide Transportation Improvement Program for Fiscal Years 2017 to 2020. Prior to 2016 and the enactment of MAP-21 transportation legislation, FWHA used a bridge classification system that included the status of “Functionally Obsolete.” The BSB had been classified as functionally obsolete, which means it had been built to standards that did not adhere to current traffic engineering and geometric design. Conditions such as inadequate lane and shoulder widths for traffic demand led to the BSB’s functionally obsolete status. In 2016, FHWA switched to the performance-based program for monitoring bridge conditions, bringing with it the current use of the good, fair, and poor bridge condition measures discussed in this summary. (Source: USDOT. FHWA. Bridges and Structures. National Bridge Inventory. (2022).)
Truck Parking as Critical Freight Infrastructure
In 2012, with the passage of The Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21) transportation legislation, the United States Department of Transportation (USDOT) is required to conduct the Jason’s Law Truck Parking Survey. The most recent survey released by the FHWA in 2019 showed that 98 percent of drivers had a difficult time finding safe parking. Only four years prior, a 2015 survey revealed that 75 percent of drivers had similar challenges. (Source: United States Department of Transportation (USDOT), Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), Office of Freight Management and Operations. Jason's Law 2019 Truck Parking Survey and Assessment. (2019).)
A 2022 joint letter addressed to U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg from the American Trucking Associations (ATA) and the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) stated: “When truck drivers can’t find parking and are confronting driving limitations due to hours of service rules, ‘they are stuck in a no-win situation, forced to either park in unsafe or illegal locations or violate federal HOS (Hours of Service) regulations by continuing to search for safer, legal alternatives.’” ATA and OOIDA report that nationally there are about 3.5 million truck drivers and about 313,000 truck parking spaces. This means that for every 11 drivers, there is only one truck parking space. (Source: FreightWaves. ATA, OOIDA team up on parking letter sent to Buttigieg. (2022).)
The OKI region is no stranger to the concerns surrounding the lack of sufficient truck parking supply. The problem goes beyond the safety of truck drivers and others who use our roadway network. OKI considers truck parking as critical freight infrastructure necessary for the safe and efficient movement of goods and our economy. As such, OKI staff have studied this growing issue. The findings of two truck parking analyses from American Trucking Research Institute (ATRI) 2016 data are presented.
OKI 2019 Truck Parking Findings – Designated Locations
In 2019, OKI staff examined the capacity and usage of existing, designated public and private truck parking locations within the region. At that time, staff identified 16 locations in use having about 1,000 truck parking spaces. Using ATRI data, staff determined dwell time, or the period trucks remain parked, and time of day used for truck parking at each location. Findings showed that trucks arrive to park mostly between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m. The time trucks remain parked varies depending on location. That said, the largest percentage of dwell time was either less than one hour or more than 10 hours. This shows a demand for both short- and long-term parking in the OKI region. The Travel Centers of America (TA) in Florence, TA in Walton, and Flying J in Walton are the top three locations for most truck stops. As this analysis was summarized from a two-week period of ATRI data with unknown sampling rate on truck types and inconsistent delivery frequencies, it is only intended to provide a snapshot as to truck parking usage at designated locations in the OKI region.
OKI 2019 Truck Parking Findings – Undesignated Locations
Because of the insufficient availability of truck parking, especially in metropolitan areas across the country, OKI has seen truck drivers take refuge in undesignated parking locations. This is mainly found within the public right-of-way, such as roadway shoulders and interstate on/off ramps. The same OKI study cited above looked at this issue of undesignated truck parking areas across the region. Findings show that undesignated roadside truck parking along interstates and on/off ramps is more evident outside the I-275 ring than inside it. Of the eight OKI counties, Boone County had the largest share of undesignated parking, both across all dwell times and overall.
A further look revealed that undesignated truck parking on interstate ramp shoulders was prevalent even in cases where private truck stops were located at the same interchange. This finding may be due to the truck stops being at capacity by the time of some truck drivers’ arrivals. And it could also be that due to their maximum hours of service, they were forced to find a place to stop and park. The dwell time for some of these undesignated truck parking occurrences were for more than 10 hours. Northbound on/off ramps were more likely to be used for undesignated truck parking than southbound ramps.
OKI Interactive Truck Mapping Tool
As part of this Freight Plan, OKI staff created a new interactive truck mapping tool. Within the map, designated public and private truck parking by location and the number of spaces is shown. ATRI 2016 data is overlaid to show areas of short- and long-term truck parking density and whether the trucks are in designated or undesignated locations.
Staff used the map’s underlying data, applying a methodology of buffering street centerlines based on the type of roadway and number of lanes. This was used, to identify undesignated truck parking locations within the public right-of-way. The region’s top 10 locations for short- and long-term undesignated truck parking are highlighted. Four of them appear in both top 10 lists due to their high instances of both short- and long-term undesignated parking. They are Decoursey Yard in Kenton County; both interstate rest areas in Boone County; the Mosteller/Crescentville roads’ area in Hamilton and Butler counties; and the Queensgate/Norfolk Southern Gest Street Yard area in Hamilton County.
The extent of insufficient truck parking is felt across the region. Six of the eight OKI counties report at least one location in the top 10 lists. Only Clermont and Warren counties manage to be exempt from either top 10 listing. Likely due to residential, commercial and industrial density, along with the high volume of truck deliveries, Hamilton has six of the top 10 short-term undesignated truck parking locations. ATRI data was again used for this high-level examination of truck parking. To confirm truck parking conditions at any location, truck counts, communication with freight stakeholders in the area, and further site-specific study should be conducted.