The Maryland State Highway Administration recently won a $2.6 million grant from the U.S. Dept. of Transportation for an $8 million project to nearly triple the number of truck parking spaces from 21 to 61 at the I-95 South Welcome Center in Savage, MD.

The Savage Welcome Center has an information center, vending machines, restrooms and parking for cars and trucks and is one of 10 limited service centers and rest areas in the state — in addition to the Maryland House and Chesapeake House on I-95 that offer full-service restaurants.

According to a report in the Baltimore Sun, the Savage Welcome Center is past capacity every night and once the 21 marked truck spaces are taken, truckers “park at the edges of the parking fields and the sides of access roads.”

One recent Monday evening, the Sun reported, “trucks were spilling out of the rest area onto the ramp leading to the highway and onto the shoulder. By 7 p.m., more than 40 trucks were parked in and around the Welcome Center. On another day, about two dozen trucks were parked by 6:30 p.m, one near the highway shoulder. Across the highway, near the northbound rest stop, trucks were stopped along the shoulder.”

According to Charlie Gischlar, an SHA spokesman, a Maryland State trooper was killed in the middle of the night on I-95 South near the Welcome Center when his cruiser plowed into the back of a tractor-trailer parked on the highway shoulder.

Gischlar said the trooper accident was not the sole reason the agency is expanding truck parking, but he said “what it did was heighten awareness of that situation.”

The work is expected to begin next spring and take about a year, Gischlar said.