Major travel and truck stop proposed on I-81 in Ironto

Montgomery County has received a proposal for construction of a truck stop and travel center beside Interstate 81 in Ironto, which if built would slightly ease a severe shortage of truck parking along the heavily traveled ground shipping corridor.

Love’s Travel Stops Inc. of Oklahoma has applied to rezone nearly 33 acres of vacant land from agricultural to general business. Separately, the application seeks one special use permit for a travel center and one for three signs.

The site is a large open field at North Fork and Pedlar roads, south of the interstate’s exit 128. Joe’s Kwik Mark, also a truck stop, is on the north side of the Ironto interchange.

The 39-page application is co-signed by Lisa Pendleton. She and Tina Wells own the land and, according to the application, reside in Boones Mill. Neither immediately responded to a voice mail message seeking comment.

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The Montgomery County Planning Commission is scheduled to take up the proposal Feb. 15, with supervisors scheduled to review it March 13.

Love's Travel Stop proposed in Ironto

One of the facility’s proposed signs would stand 190 feet high, while the maximum allowed height without an exception is 40 feet. But the official review will be comprehensive and consider matters other than signs.

Dale Bennett, president and CEO of the Virginia Trucking Association, welcomed the proposal, which would add 79 truck parking spaces. “There’s no doubt that we have a critical shortage of truck parking spaces all across the country,” including along I-81, he said. “Any additional spaces is certainly helpful in addressing this issue.”

Truck drivers are responsible to deliver goods on time and comply with mandated rest periods, a process made difficult by the parking shortage, Bennett said.

He finds it “difficult” to bear, knowing that public opposition has defeated proposals for truck stops in other locations when consumers count on finding goods carried by truck at the store or on the doorstep when they want them.

Truck parking is available off I-81 in the Shenandoah Valley at White’s Travel Center in Raphine, which calls itself the East Coast’s largest travel center and has more than 700 truck parking spaces. The supply grows thin to the south.

A truck stop with 129 parking spaces razed off Interstate 81’s exit 150 interchange with U.S. 220 and U.S. 11 at Daleville in 2014. No major new facilities have been built in this region.

Love’s is a major player in the travel center business, with 600 locations in 42 states, according to its website. The company says its centers provide “professional truck drivers and motorists with 24-hour access to clean and safe places to purchase gasoline, diesel fuel, compressed natural gas (CNG), travel items, electronics, snacks, restaurant offerings, and more.”

Drawings for the Ironto location show a store, restaurant, dog park, tire shop and truck wash. If built as proposed, there will be 11 RV parking spaces in addition to the truck parking, along with about 80 regular parking places.

The application is available free on the planning commission website under an entry dated Monday.

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