Re: Budget Woes Spell Doom for Highway Rest Areas
- From: Rick Powell <rkpowell@xxxxxxxxx>
- Date: Fri, 3 Jul 2009 11:01:24 -0700 (PDT)
On Jul 3, 12:13 pm, "Scott M. Kozel" <koze...@xxxxxxxxxxx> wrote:
Rick Powell <rkpow...@xxxxxxxxx> wrote:
The obvious solution (for VA or other states) is to auction or lease
space at these facilities to private operators, who could operate
concessions there and either cut the losses or actually return a
profit for the states. The barrier is FHWA rules against
commercializing of interstate highway rest areas; but these could
potentially be addressed in the next federal transportation bill which
becomes due this October.
That "obvious solution" shouldn't be allowed to happen until a private
operator is in place to make a seamless transition from public to
private, i.e. without any time of closure of a rest area.
A change in federal law won't address a more fundamental problem, in
that most of the safety rest areas don't have enough right-of-way to
be expanded into a turnpike-style full service plaza. We can also
expect local opposition in urban areas to obtaining the needed right-
of-way, and due to the impacts of increases in noise, exhaust,
sewerage, and light pollution at night.
Scott M. Kozel Highway and Transportation History Websites
Capital Beltway Projects http://www.capital-beltway.com
Philadelphia and Delaware Valley http://www.pennways.com
This is not something where all the details can be worked out
overnight, but as you indicate, in the short term the rest areas are
such a small burden on state highway budgets that closing them will
not really impact the state highway programs. With relaxation of
federal rules, and with a 2 or 3 year transition period, many rest
areas could be privatized either outright or with added concessions by
agreement. There may be some RA's that are not conducive to the
process, and states could either elect to continue running them as is,
eliminate facilities and continue their operation as a "bare bones"
parking area, or close them and sell the excess right of way...all of
which have their tradeoffs.
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