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'It's a great peace of mind:' Warner Robins offers truck drivers a safe place to park

The shelter-in-place order left churches with empty parking lots. Now, the Robins Regional Chamber wants to fill them with semi-trucks.

WARNER ROBINS, Ga. — Clarification: Robins Regional Chamber says VECTR assessed each parking lot to make sure they could hold the weight of semi-trucks and determine how many they could hold.

They drive long hours to deliver supplies for us, but some truck drivers say they are struggling to find places to park overnight.

Wayne Davidson has been a truck driver for the last year and a half. He said by the time he gets back home to Warner Robins on Fridays, truck stops are full.

"One of my biggest concerns always has been you know where do you park this truck? I mean 65... 70... 75 feet of steel… I mean you can't just throw it in your driveway," said Davidson.

He said it's not unusual to drive up and down I-75 and see semi-trucks parked on the exit ramps after 9 p.m. 

He would make do in Kroger or Walmart parking lots on the weekends, and usually never had any trouble until two weeks ago, when his truck was towed.

"$850 and two and a half hours later, I had my truck, and I was on my way to Alabama," he said.

But now Davidson has one less thing to worry about.

April Bragg with the Robins Regional Chamber heard about the issue and wanted to help truck drivers like Davidson.

"We wanted to come up with a solution to find them some relief as truck drivers are driving longer routes and longer hours, all of those things. It’s critical that they have somewhere legal and safe to stop," said Bragg.

The chamber realized with Governor Brian Kemp's shelter-in-place order, many churches in the area have extra space.

"It limits what our churches are able to do from an in-person capacity for their worship and their meeting service, but a lot of them have some really big open parking lots that frankly currently aren’t being used," she explained.

So for now, truckers will be directed to Apostolic Church, Southside Baptist, and Second Baptist by signs on the interstate and through this Google Map. 

Warner Robins Police will also have officers in the area to keep the lots safe. Between the three lots, they can hold around 100 trucks.

Credit: Robins Regional Chamber

"I'm extremely blessed and very thankful for the churches that have stepped up to do this," said Davidson.

Bragg said if others want to get involved, they just need to give the chamber a call.

"Should we see that we have a surge in a need for additional parking, we can then enlist other partners in the community, add those to the maps and those are being shared throughout our truck driving community," Bragg said.

Davidson said this temporary solution will offer him some peace of mind.

"It's nice to be able to know that I'm coming home Friday or Saturday, or whenever I'm coming home, and that's one thing I don't have to think about," he said.

As for a long term solution, that's a conversation Davidson said still needs to be had and one Bragg said they want to work on. He said he wouldn't mind paying a fee to have somewhere safe to park while he is home on the weekends.

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