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U.S. Department of Transportation U.S. Department of Transportation Icon United States Department of Transportation United States Department of Transportation

SmartPark: Real-Time Parking Availability, 6-Month Field Operational Test


To demonstrate a technology for providing real-time information on truck parking availability to truckers on the road.


The SmartPark program was prompted by a 2000 National Transportation Safety Board recommendation that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) create a guide to inform truck drivers about locations and availability of parking. A 2002 study on the adequacy of truck parking by the Federal Highway Administration recommended using Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) to provide truckers with real-time information on the location and availability of parking spaces. In 2005, the John A. Volpe National Transportation Systems Center completed a study entitled “ITS and Truck Parking” for FMCSA.


FMCSA completed Phase I by field testing a technology, namely, combined Doppler radar and laser scanning/light curtain. The test results from the contractor (independently verified and validated by Volpe) showed that the technology met three necessary performance requirements. Therefore, a decision was made to proceed to Phase II. Phase II covered information dissemination, reservations, maximization of space, gathering of historical data to make forecasts of availability, and self-sustainability. Phase II of the SmartPark field operations test took place at mile markers (MM) 23 and 45 northbound on I-75 in Tennessee. MM 23 was approximately 20 miles north of Chattanooga and MM 45 was halfway between Chattanooga and Knoxville. At both MM 23 and MM 45, there was truck parking. For each of the two truck parking areas, there were two variable message signs providing notice of truck parking availability (“available,” “limited,” or “full”) for a total of four signs. For each truck parking area, one sign was at 1 mile upstream of the truck parking area, and another sign was about 400 feet upstream of the truck parking area. At each of the truck parking areas, there were five spaces that could be reserved on a first-come, first-served basis. In the 6 months of field testing, researchers demonstrated and gathered data on the feasibility of the truck parking reservation system, historical utilization of truck parking spaces, and the viability of linking the two truck parking areas together (i.e., were truckers diverted by the variable message signs if one area was filled and the other was not?)


A final report for Phase I showing the feasibility of a commercially-available technology (Doppler radar and laser scanning/light curtain) for accurately and reliably determining truck parking space occupancy was accepted in June 2013. The 6-month FOT final report discusses whether two truck parking areas could be networked in such a way that trucks could be diverted from a filled area to an unfilled area, and it shows the viability of information dissemination systems for truck parking availability. Other outcomes include development of an operations and maintenance manual and training to manage the SmartPark system.


February/March 2015: Installed all sensor equipment and dynamic message signs; buried communications and power lines and configured closed-circuit television cameras mounted on poles.
April/May 2015: Completed trenching and cabling of fiber optics lines; completed functionality test of installed equipment.
June-September 2015: Prepared for FOT.
February 2016: Began FOT.
August 2016: Ended FOT.
September 2016: Draft final report and other deliverables submitted for FMCSA review.
March 2017: Final report with corrections submitted to FMCSA.
May 2017: Final report published.


FY 2015: $220,000

Current Status:

Complete—The FOT has ended. Final report is published and available at:

Project Manager:

For more information, contact Quon Kwan of the Technology Division at (202) 385-2389 or


Gannett-Fleming, Inc.
Last updated: Thursday, June 28, 2018