Trucking Action Plan’s Importance for Greater Gallup Area

Monday, February 07, 2022

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The Greater Gallup region of New Mexico has forged a long history as a significant transportation hub because of its strategic location in the heart of the nation’s fastest growing states and markets: Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, Texas, New Mexico, and Utah. Transcontinental I-40 easily connects the region to California and the East Coast. Each day, on average, 20,000 vehicles pass through Gallup on I-40; 15,000 of those are tractor-trailers. Additionally, Greater Gallup Economic Development Corporation (GGEDC) effectively advocated to fund and implement making the entirety of U.S. 491 which runs from Gallup north to Colorado a four-lane highway. The State of New Mexico invested $79 million in the project to increase the highway’s commercial capacity and value.

GGEDC is working to develop a state-of-the-art “TransPortal” truck stop. Bruce Armstrong, Greater Gallup EDC Economic Development Manager, notes, “As I-40 connects Gallup and McKinley County with the rest of the country, and in-fact the world, we envision our future Trucking ‘Super Center/TransPortal’ serving as a ‘community center’ and hub both for truckers and industries involved in transmodal operations and shipping, logistics, and product warehousing.”

The “TransPortal” truck stop will be well situated to take advantage of the “11-hour rule” which establishes the maximum number of hours a trucker can drive within 14 hours before taking a required hard break. It will have all the amenities interstate truck drivers require and requested. A dog walking park will be included because surveys conducted by GGEDC revealed it as a vital element for many truck drivers. There will also be hotel, retail, and entertainment facilities, as well as logistics facilities. 

Armstrong adds, “GGEDC looks forward to embracing all faces of this industry — giving truckers the opportunity to visit Gallup and the region during their down time and also attracting and recruiting truck-related businesses to become a part of this new kind of ‘community center.’ The Super Center hub will provide a critical and mutually beneficial interface between I-40 commerce and the local economy.”

National Driver Shortages

Presently, the trucking industry is experiencing a lack of drivers. While a portion of the shortage can be attributed to COVID-19, pre-pandemic driver shortages were driven by challenges including high turnover rates, an aging workforce, and long stints away from home.

In an effort to improve workforce needs in the industry, the Biden-Harris Administration’s Supply Chain Disruptions Task Force crafted the Trucking Action Plan which the Administration launched in December 2021. The Plan seeks to address supply chain bottlenecks created when the economy jumpstarted in the wake of the pandemic slowdown. 

Trucking Action Plan

The following actions detailed in the plan lay the foundation for a next-generation trucking workforce and will support the development of numerous good jobs.

Expedite the issuance of CDLs by reducing barriers 

The Department of Transportation (DOT) and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) will work hand-in-hand with state departments of motor vehicles to address specific challenges they face. As an example, FMCSA will provide over $30 million to help states expedite commercial driver’s licenses (CDLs). FMCSA and DOT also will send the states a toolkit detailing specific actions to expedite the process, such as by expanding hours and locations and moving more processes online.

Accelerate the expansion of Registered Apprenticeships 

In an effort to put more drivers on the road, the Action Plan kicked off a 90-day challenge to recruit employers interested in developing new Registered Apprenticeship programs and to support those interested in expanding existing programs. Registered Apprenticeship programs are the gold standard of driver training because they provide paid, on-the-job learning. Expanding this proven workforce strategy in the trucking industry will ensure high-quality instruction for new drivers and will help employers develop and train a skilled workforce.

Currently, over 10,000 apprentices are working in the trucking industry. The Department of Labor (DOL) and national partners such as FASTPORT are committed to helping accelerate new program development in as little as two days. FASTPORT is a DOL-funded national apprenticeship intermediary partner focused on the transportation sector that is committed to working with trucking employers, unions, and industry associations to achieve program creation goals. DOL is investing $8 million to support national apprenticeship intermediaries that will initiate Registered Apprenticeships.

With consultants located throughout the United States available to assist organizations interested in starting a new program or joining an existing program, DOL’s Office of Apprenticeship’s (OA) recently launched a 90-Day Apprenticeship Trucking Challenge website.  

Conduct veterans-focused outreach and recruitment

Because approximately 70,000 veterans are likely to have certified trucking experience within the last five years, the DOL Veterans’ Employment and Training Service (VETS) and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) also is stepping up efforts and partnerships to help transition service members and veterans into good jobs in the trucking industry.

The Off-Base Transition Training Pilot Program (OBTT) will explore the possibility of extending its employment readiness curriculum to connect veterans, National Guard and Reserve members, and their spouses to career paths in trucking. DOL will collaborate with the VA to ensure that veterans’ driving experience is recognized when they seek a CDL and the OBTT will build on proven training models, such as SkillBridge programs. Expanded partnerships between the trucking industry and the Employment Navigator and Partnership Pilot (ENPP) are expected to facilitate greater veteran participation.

Launch “Driving Good Jobs” initiative

The “Driving Good Jobs” initiative, launched jointly by DOT and DOL, will focus on ensuring a strong and safe trucking workforce. Key aspects of the initiative include:

  • Hosting listening sessions that engage drivers, unions and worker centers, industry, and advocates.
  • Lifting up employers and best practices that support job quality and driver retention.
  • Implementing research and engagement efforts such as studying the issue of truck driver pay and unpaid waiting time.
  • Identifying effective and safe strategies to get new entrants in the field from underrepresented communities including women and young drivers between the ages of 18-20.
  • Setting up a task force to investigate predatory truck leasing arrangements.
  • Identifying longer-term actions, such as potential administrative or regulatory actions that support drivers and driver retention by improving the quality of trucking jobs.

Explore the ways Greater Gallup Economic Development Corporation (GGEDC) focuses on workforce development in McKinley County. Its innovative Greater Gallup Industrial Workforce Program (GGIWP) is a no-cost 10-week upskilling program involving classroom and hands-on construction training that leads to placement into an internship, a pre-apprenticeship program, or a long-term job or career in the trades. Reach out to them at 505-722-2980 or via email to see how they can help you today! Follow GGEDC on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

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