Birmingham desperately needs more name brand service providers to help meet the escalating demand of truckers. I think Birmingham should be ground zero for immediate expansion. Unfortunately this market has been underserved at a time when heavy truck traffic, which was spurred by a sharp increase in economic activity, is on the rise. Truckers who serve this porous market chief complaint is lack of facilities for overnight parking which needs to change. Too many drivers have been harassed by law enforcement officers and forced to seek parking on the side of dangerous roads and underpasses instead of a secure full service plaza. Local government and business officials must submit applications and recruit Love’s, Wilco-Hess and Travel CEnters of America/Petro franchises to this depressed market. These award winning travel plazas are nationally known for providing a high level of customer service, quality products and amenities to truckers and the communities they serve.
Furthermore, these 24 hour service centers supply a myriad of goods and services that truckers and the motoring public have come to expect and depend on across America. Metro-Birmingham’s rapidly growing 1.2 million population, which produces over 30 percent of Alabama Gross Domestic Products, needs a minimum of three major franchises. They should be conveniently located to accommodate truckers in Center City on I 459 and future I-422 respectively.
Expansion into this emerging market will be mutually beneficial for all parties. First it will boost corporate profits, create more job opportunities and secure overnight parking for truckers. But more importantly it will generate a steady source of tax revenue that is urgently needed to help subsidize more long overdue public work projects and infrastructure repair.
Incrementally it would be very advantageous for the city to leverage more of the underused multi-billion dollar trucking industry into a large percentage of its economic portfolio. Birmingham has to look no farther than comparable pro-trucking towns like Jackson, Little Rock and Knoxville for people to clearly see and appreciate the high profile role trucking is playing to help bulk up and energize those towns’ robust economies.
Truckers are the number one movers of U.S. commerce and they demand nothing less than first class treatment in Birmingham. Birmingham must provide truckers with the same kind of spacious high-tech facilities they experience in big pro-trucking cities like Nashville, Memphis and Atlanta.
Therefore the Afro-American Truckers Association is appealing to the Mayor, City Council and the Birmingham Business Alliance, encouraging them to partner up for support of truckers and smart economic development. By working together to bring a complement of supersize state of the art Loves Wilco-Hess and travel centers of America/ Petro Travel Plazas to Birmingham. This proactive initiative will help make Birmingham more competitive and economically diverse, more attractive to international business investment and more truck friendly over the long haul.
Alexandria, VA 22314
Shakir Muhammad is an Alabama native and active member of the Afro-American Truckers Association who has been fighting for the interest of truckers since 2003.