[See update at the end of this thread regarding Frank Wolf]

[See response from Delegate Bob Marshall towards end of threadImmediate 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.


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.

31 Thoughts to “VA Rest Stops Slated to Close”

  1. Lafayette

    I have no idea what they were thinking when they decided to close rest areas. This does not send an inviting message to the thousands of tourists in our great state each day. There are many reasons this should not happen such as the safety aspect. Drivers need to be well rested and alert when behind the wheel, rest areas have afforded travellers that peace of mind. I know many people that use rest areas for all sorts of reasons. People do need to use the bathroom, get out and stretch their legs, let the dogs walk, and kids need to get out of the car every so often to stretch, etc. There are those with health issues that require them to stop and refresh themselves to continue to travel. I feel that by closing the rest areas people will see VA as a not tourist friendly state. Our region especially has many tourists because of our proximity to DC. This is a real shame for all of those that travel VA’s highways.

  2. Gainesville Resident

    This is one of the dumber cost cutting decisions the state has made. Can’t they find that money someplace else? I know when I drive down to Norfolk for work – I often stop at the stops on I-95 to stretch my legs, etc. I think some of those are among the ones slated to close. Great – anything to make the trip to Norfolk even MORE unpleasant – as I hate that drive down there and back.

    Anyway, as I said, one of the DUMBER cost cutting decisions the state has made! There has just GOT to be another way to trim that amount of dollars, instead of this way. Someone needs to revisit this. I agree, that makes us less tourist friendly, and could cause serious safety issues, if drivers don’t find a place to pull over when they are tired.

  3. hello

    I agree… closing these rest stops raises some pretty big safety issues. GR has it right, this is one of the dumber cost cutting decisions the state has made. Who came up with this bright idea? I can’t imagine that saving this money would trump the safety of tens of thousands of people who depend on them (truckers mostly). It would be interesting to see a study pre and post rest stop closings when it comes to accidents.

  4. Moon-howler

    I put it right up with the dumbest idea in the history of Virginia. It wasn’t like our rest stops were all that great to start with. Compare our rest stops to those in Maryland, who was grandfathered it to have vendors operating the stops. We looked like a slum, across the state.

    GR mentioned stopping between here and Norfolk. There was one rest stop that was the rest stop from hell. Recycled plumbing. It was nasty. Just nasty. Somewhere on 64 south of Richmond. Maybe that idea should go down as the second dumbest decision.

  5. This closing of rest stops is a typical bureaucratic ploy.

    When you try to cut the police budget, they tell you that patrols in high crime areas MUST be cut back. If the city admin budget is the target, they tell you that the library hours, along with the children reading program will be the first to go.

    In business, this is called, a “poison pill.” When told to cut the budget, those resistant to cuts offer up only popular or vital items, then convey to the budget cutters that they can weather the political storm to follow, or as in the case of VDOT, make the plan public and let the public shred the politicians over the issue of not having anywhere to pee.

    I have written about privatizing these rest stops for years. It is good to see Delegate Marshall stepping up, however just a one year waiver will not entice the large chains to jump into this privatization project.

    Perhaps Marshall’s strategy is that getting a one year authorization would be easier than asking for removal of the restriction altogether, then we could ask for extensions or an indefinite extension, leading to repeal of the federal involvement in interstate highway rest areas.

    With privatization, these sites could be turned into net revenue generators, instead of liabilities for Virginia. Private-public rest stop partnerships work well in other states, so this is a proven concept and it should be initiated here, now.

  6. Gainesville Resident

    Some stupid bureaucrat must have come up with the idea to close the rest stops. Must have been one of the very few people who has never driven the interstate highway system!

    Privatization sounds like a good idea. Unfortunately, there’s that law that prevents it – but if that law can be overturned, then that’s a good solution.

    The state should keep them open until some alternative can be found to continue to keep them open without the state running them.

    I can see something unfortunate happening because someone was tired but there was no place to pull over, or they tried getting off the highway and got terribly lost in the middle of the night or some such thing.

    Whoever came up with this, didn’t think it out, although a bunch of people must have reviewed it to sign off on it. Well, no one ever underestimated the stupidity of some government officials!

  7. Gainesville Resident

    MH is right – our rest stops stink compared to other states. However, they are better than nothing. Up north there’s some really nice ones actually in the Northeast. By the way, did you know there was once a Howard Stern rest stop along I-295 in NJ??? He somehow got the then governor of NJ – Christie Whitman – to name one after him. Unfortunately, they put up nice signs, and his fans came along and stole them. The state could not afford to replace the signs time after time so they just dropped the name. It might still have that as the “official name” but you won’t find any signage for it! Just an interesting tidbit of info I happened to remember – this was sometime back in the 90’s when Whitman was governor of NJ.

  8. Gainesville Resident

    Here’s a good article about the Howard Stern Rest Stop in NJ – I forgot some of the details – but this gives the exact timeframe, etc.


  9. Moon-howler

    What a great story, GR. I hadn’t heard of Christie Todd Whitman in quite a while. She is another person who got more or less run off by radical Republicans. I always liked her and felt she was a good moderate.

    Too bad that a state that has as much tourism as VA, plus is a connector state (north/south corridor), never put its best restroom foot forward. It was shameful in that area.

  10. An Ordinary Joe

    Actually, to tack on to Mr. Ballance’s comment, you may note that the Governor gave the reason that it saves a few millions out of the billions we need, but it’s because the republicans didn’t fund transportation needs. Anyone smell the DNC connection?

  11. Moon-howler

    Joe, i see no reason to turn tis sitution into partisan wars.

    Let’s just all agree it is a stupid situation and wish Wolf/Warner and whoever else joins them well in fixing it.

  12. Gainesville Resident

    You know, I don’t know what Christie Todd Whitman’s been up to these days either, MH! She was a great governor of NJ, and well liked. Then came McGreevey – and we all know what happened with him! Anyway, as a Republican former Governor Whitman was indeed very moderate. Too bad she seems to have not been very visible in recent years – I just don’t know why that is, maybe she’s doing more behind the scenes stuff, or just happy in retirement. I hadn’t thought of her in awhile either, and had completely forgotten about the Howard Stern Rest Stop on I-295, but remembered it when this thread popped up!

    Now, there’s an idea – put up rest stops sponsored by famous celebrities, and maybe the fans would give donations or something to keep the rest stops going! How’s that for a revenue generating idea?? If the state goes this route – I hope they’ll give me the proper credit. They can call one of the rest stops the “Gainesville Resident Rest Stop” in my honor. Somehow, I don’t think that plaque will get stolen like Howard Stern’s did.

    Then again, I can forsee the same problems as with the Howard Stern place. The fans would just be stealing the signs left and right.

    Oh well, bad idea – another one of my not well thought out plans! I guess the state will have to find another solution for financing the rest stops. I still think privatization is a good idea – they just have to overturn that law that prevents them from doing it.

    Anyway, if they end up closing the rest stops, it will really not be good, and as noted by several people, it is a really dumb idea on the part of the state of Virginia.

  13. Gainesville Resident

    I am glad to see that update – that I just noticed, that Wolf and Warner are joining together to try and work out a solution. That’s great, and a good example of bipartisanship.

  14. Thanks for the post.

    Just for the record, I am not requesting a temporary exemption. The only parliamentary way in Congress at this point to get a vote on this important matter is to amend the Transportation Appropriations Act to suspend the law so a state can start to issue RFP’s. [ED. NOTE: RFP = Request for Proposal]

    COngressman Wolf is going to offer an amendment to the Transportation bill Friday morning, July 17. This afternoon, Governor Kaine sent a letter to the Chair of that House subcommittee.

    For a reason I do NOT understand, Congressman Perriello is OPPOSING Congressman Wolf’s effort to keep Virginia’s rest areas open.

    Your immediate action is needed!

    AAA Mid Atlantic wrote Congressman Wolf (July 16):

    “This issue is already resonating among the motoring public and the trucking industry. In fact, a growing number of motorists have expressed alarm about the decision to close the rest areas and to cordon off their entrances.

    In our view, there is no question that the safety of motorists will be negatively impacted by the closing of rest areas in Virginia. The problem goes well beyond the need to use restroom facilities. Long haul drivers need to stop to rest, drink caffeine, change drivers, etc. If they do not have a convenient option they may drive when they are too tired to do so.

    Nearly one-third of drivers (28%) say that they have nodded off or fallen asleep while driving a vehicle, according to extensive research by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.

    It is estimated that 100,000 police-reported crashes are the direct result of driver fatigue each year, resulting in an estimated 1,500 deaths, 71,000 injuries, and $12.5 billion in monetary losses, as reported by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). In fact, NHTSA reports that twenty percent of crashes and twelve percent of near-crashes were caused by drowsy drivers.”

    Please contact Congressman Perriello and urge his support of the Wolf Amendment.

    Washington DC office (202) 225-4711; Charlottesville (434) 293-9631; Danville, (434) 791-2596; Farmville (434) 392-1997.

    Rep. Perriello is on the House Transportation Committee.

    Delegate Bob Marshall (703-853-4213 cell)

  15. An Ordinary Joe

    Moon Howler, it was Governor Kaine that gave the reason and made it partisan. it is frankly another instance of partisan wars affecting the populace adversely.

  16. Moon-howler

    Not sure I am following you, Joe. I don’t know who said what. I generally don’t notice that sort of thing.

    Do you really think partisan politics will solve the rest stop area?

    I think Virginians screaming and raising hell will start the ball rolling. What will truly fix it is if the businesses in Virginia take it to their legislator. Money talks and we know what walks.

  17. Moon-howler

    Thank you Delegate Marshall, for your input and your efforts on this initiative. Welcome to the Anti blog.

    This current situation is bad for safety, bad for business, bad for tourism, and BAD FOR VIRGINIA.

    Please keep us updated.

  18. Gainesville Resident

    Indeed, I’m happy to see Delegate Marshall’s post. The driver fatique is a very important issue, and it is downright foolish to close rest stops and exacerbate the problem. Not only is this bad for safety, but as pointed out by others, bad for business, bad for tourism, and just makes Virginia look bad. Hope this can all get worked out, and the rest stops remain open.

    On the radio today, on WTOP, which I don’t always trust as being accurate (I don’t trust any news source actually) – they claimed that no matter what, the rest stops would at least be temporarily shuttered as of TUESDAY – and it might take a year to reopen them no matter what happens.

    I hope this is an untrue statement. It is quite possible, I’ve seen WTOP report inaccuarately on things before. Let’s hope one way or the other a solution is worked out. What Delegate Marshall posted sounds like a step in the right direction. Not sure why Congressman Periello (not sure if I spelled it right) is against this. Anyone who is against keeping the rest stops open is plain stupid, and if they were someone in my voting district, I would definitely vote against them for plain stupidity, the next time they were up for reelection! Somehow, I don’t see any way you can defend a decision like that – I don’t care what the budget problems are. There has got to be some other areas that can be cut instead.

  19. Moon-howler

    I called Congressman Perriello and asked him to support the Wolf Amendment to the Transportation Bill. They were polite. I didn’t get in to too much discussion other than spelling my name and address correctly. At least his office wanted to know that much. Many just say thanks. click.

  20. Moon-howler

    Gainesville, have you made YOUR phone call?

    I am concerned about traveling pets if those rest areas are barricaded off. This is the dumbest plan to save money. You know, they probably could have put a donation box out there or even on state income tax…donate to the bathrooms. Many people would do it.

    If everyone donated just a few bucks, that would do it. Virginia has about 7 million people. Sink a few safes in the concrete and let the attendants empty them daily so we can soak the tourists for some money too. Or, a novel idea, pay toilets. NJ used to have pay toilets. How many of us would pay a quarter for a clean toilet as opposed to one that ..isn’t so clean….the free ones would just be …there…for emergencies.

    Also, the drink machines make a million dollars.

    Stupid stupid stupid!!!

  21. Gainesville Resident

    No, I haven’t MH. If there was an e-mail address or a fax number that would be more up my alley! My phone call skills aren’t that good!

    Indeed, my dog has left her “mark” at many a rest stop area in her time! Maybe dog owners should picket in front of rest stops or something!

    OK, I might try calling later in the day, after work, you are “guilting me” into it MH! Actually, you make it sound easy – I was thinking they’d want some long explanation. If all i have to do is give them my name and address, that is something I can do. Otherwise, I’m not one for making phone calls and having to give some speech about my position on something! I’ve contacted congressmen before, but only in writing (and have gotten good results – my wife’s immigration case I got some action by Congressman Wolf’s staff).

    Yes, how much money DO they make off those vending machines – must be a small fortune! Why don’t they hike the prices 25%? I bet that wouldn’t cut down the amount of food people buy, and would maybe pay for some of the cost of running the places. Pay toilets sound good, my only worry would be I woudln’t have any change on me, and i’d be in desperate need of a bathroom! Then again, if they close the things totally, I guess it’s a moot point.

    You have some good ideas though – donations, optional income tax checkoff box, etc.

  22. Gainesville Resident

    OK, I called the (202) 225-4711 for Congresman Periello and someone answered and I told them I was for Congressman Wolf’s amendment to the transportation bill that would help keep Virginia’s interstate rest stops open. They said OK, and took down my name and address. So that was easy. We’ll see what happens when it comes up for the vote, I guess.

  23. Moon-howler

    yea, it was an effortless phone call. not all of them are. Thanks for calling!

  24. Gainesville Resident

    No problem, I just didn’t want to get drawn into some big debate on the merits of the whole thing over the phone. I prefer the e-mail or FAX method – this way it is a one way conversation – that’s more to my liking!

  25. Lafayette

    Delegate Marshall, thank you so much for updating the posters of this blog. I for one am most grateful for your efforts.

    I made my call this morning, soon as saw Delegate Marshall’s post. I got the same reaction as the two of you. I’ve made hundred of telephone calls to both Senate & Congress. I’ve called some offices that seem to not care about what you have to say. I didn’t get that impression today when I made my call.

    I was thinking about when I was child and travelled with many family members and friends. Often time rest area would be a meeting point to exchange passengers. I also, believe quite a few college students share rides and use rest areas in this manner as well. I hope we get to see the rest areas remain open.

  26. Moon-howler

    Definitely that call stood out as a cut above most I have made, locally, statewide, and federally. They didn’t chit chat but they also didn’t blow me off.

    Nowadays, you can’t even email some of the Senators or Congressmen unless you are their constituent. Now THAT misses me off. I wanted to thank or congratulate someone a few years ago. Nope. No can do.

    Hopefully, Delegate Marshall will return with more updates.

  27. Beulah

    Personally, I think its rediculous to close our rest stops at any time. But its totally out of reason in the summer when most people are traveling. Truckers definitely need a place to stop and rest when they become tired. Whats this going to do with the accidents on our highways? It could be more dangerous than cellphones.

  28. Gainesville Resident

    Indeed, closing the rest stops has to be one of the all-time dumbest cost cutting moves. Just the safety considerations alone should have made someone at the state say “why are we doing this”. Not to mention all the other reasons rest stops exist. I would think the truckers would be pretty unhappy about this. Of course so is everyone else, but the truckers drive all the time so they are probably most affected by it. Hopefully this decision will get reversed soon.

  29. Gainesville Resident

    I also heard on the radio yesterday morning, that TV news crews were filming DURING RUSH HOUR at the Manassas I-66 rest stops and because of that, traffic was backed up due to people looking to see what was going on. What a stupid thing to do! Couldn’t they wait until AFTER rush hour? No, I suppose they wanted to be sure and get that on the morning news. Kind of an irresponsible thing to do – but that’s our local TV stations for you! I heard this at 6 AM yesterday morning on my way into work – so they were sure there bright and early – I guess to make it onto the 6 AM or 7 AM news – I’m not exactly sure when the local news is on TV in the morning on weekdays. What a crazy stupid thing to do though just for the sake of some headlines!

  30. Bruce Gilbert

    While I applaud the efforts to look at State fiscal responsibility, I do not believe closing the rest areas is the correct choice. As I understand it, many rest areas were recently renovated. Consequently, we have poured a lot of money into something that we can not use. Is the intent permanent closure or do we know the real intent? Did anyone consider the cost related to re-opening the rest areas or the cost of “parking” State trucks, just sitting idly by the entrances? If left essentially abandoned, how long will it be before the rest areas become an eye sore and wind up giving the great Commonwealth of Virginia a black eye? This is an embarrassment to Virginia. Please re-consider this decision.

  31. Moon-howler

    Welcome Bruce Gilbert. Thanks for sharing your opinion. I agree. Closing these rest stops does give Virginia a black eye.

    Welcome Beulah. The state sure pussy-footed around the cell phone issue, didn’t it?

Comments are closed.