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HANNIBAL - Citing safety and economic benefits, the Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission approved a project to expand the Interstate 70 truck parking facilities near Mineola.Funding for the expansion comes mainly from a $1 million federal grant to build additional truck parking on I-70. The additional parking is expected to help prevent crashes due to driver fatigue by making it easier for professional drivers to find a safe, quiet place to rest.Currently, 29 striped spaces accommodate trucks off of the eastbound lanes of I-70 and 24 spaces westbound. When construction is complete by fall of 2014, an additional 40 spaces will be available to westbound drivers."Missouri is a favorite state of many professional drivers because they can find safe, convenient parking just off of the highway where they can rest," said Scott Marion, MoDOT motor carrier services director. "When drivers who elsewhere have to hunt for parking know they have a reliable place to stop, they can better predict the timing of their delivery. That makes freight delivery more efficient and results in savings for Missourians at the cash register."Missouri more than doubled the number of truck parking spaces along its interstates in the past several years by converting shuttered weigh stations and rest areas. During the same time, the number of hours a commercial driver is legally allowed to operate fell, resulting in increased need for convenient truck parking.The westbound truck parking area will close for up to 60 days during construction. The start date for the project will be determined next spring.