[See update at the end of this thread regarding Frank Wolf]
[See response from Delegate Bob Marshall towards end of thread. Immediate Action needed!!!]
Map of Va rest stop closures from the Washington Post.
Many of Virginia’s rest stops will close July 21, 2009, to help save the state $9 million . To most Virginians, this move is ill-conceived, dangerous, and just plain stupid. More rest areas are scheduled to close later on in the year.
There are so many reasons why these closures should not be happening. First and foremost is the safety issue. Federal law mandates that truckers log rest time. Where will they rest? You can’t park a semi at McDonalds, or at least not many of them. How many businesses want to be bothered with truckers and every other traveler using their facilities? All travelers need to get off the road periodically. Common sense dictates that we provide a place for them to do so.
Much of Virginia’s revenue comes from tourism. How can you promote tourism if travelers have no where to stop to use rest facilities? What happens to travelers with children? What happens to travelers with pets? No fast food stores have facilities for pets that I am aware of.
I rarely agree with Delegate Bob Marshall. Every once in a while it happens. This makes twice now. Marshall is attempting to get Congressman Wolf and Senator Warner to sponsor legislation that allows Virginia to let businesses operate at the rest stops. Currently, they are prevented from doing so by federal law.
According the the Manassas News and Messenger.
The western Prince William County Republican sent letters to Rep. Frank R. Wolf and U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner, asking that they consider introducing legislation to allow the Old Dominion to have private businesses at rest stops.
Nineteen rest areas, including those on Interstate 95 in Dale City and on Interstate 66 in Manassas, are slated to close July 21 in a state budget cost-cutting measure. The move projects to a savings of $9 million toward a $2.6 billion shortfall.
Marshall wrote that allowing restaurants, gas stations or the like to operate at rest stops might allow these highway outposts to stay open or reopen as soon as possible.
“Rest stops are an important part of Virginia’s transportation infrastructure and their closing will likely affect Virginia’s tourism industry in a negative way,” he wrote to Wolf and Warner. “It will also mean the loss of jobs for many people who work at these rest stops. In these difficult economic times we cannot afford for this to happen.”
Marshall asked that Wolf and Warner consider submitting an amendment to the federal transportation appropriations bill to suspend for one year the law that prohibits Virginia and other states from contracting with private businesses.
“There are a number of states (including Maryland and Pennsylvania) which were grandfathered when the federal law prohibiting this sort of public/private partnership passed and still have rest stops with restaurants and gas stations attached,” he noted.
Hopefully these lawmakers will be successful in undoing this horrible stupidity. Good for Delegate Marshall for spearheading this iniative.
How will these closures affect travel here in Virginia? Will it save money or will it cost Virginia more loss of revenue in the long run? What can Virginia residents do to change things around?
A state who boasts that Virginia is for Lovers have better think of a way to allow these lovers to relieve themselves.
[UPDATE: FROM FRANK WOLF’S NEWSLETTER]
The state’s decision to close a number of rest areas on interstate highways in the Commonwealth is also of deep concern, and my letter to Governor Kaine urges the state to reconsider the decision. I fear that fatigued drivers, especially long-haul truckers, without convenient places to pull off the highway could increase the risks for accidents. This is a safety issue and the state has a responsibility to the hundreds of thousands of drivers on Virginia’s highways to resolve this matter.