Bush administration wants to commercialize the country’s rest areas,
according to a proposed highway reauthorization bill obtained by
Natso, the trade association representing America's travel plazas
legislation would allow states to conduct rest area commercialization
pilot projects, which would cause many interchange-based businesses
such as truckstops and travel plazas, restaurants, motels, gas stations
and convenience stores to close, Natso says.
President and CEO William D. Fay said, "Natso will fight against
this anti-business, anti-trucking, anti-community provision and
lead a coalition campaign to ensure its defeat."
administration says the provision is designed to increase the number
of parking spaces for heavy trucks, yet the provision would have
the opposite effect, according to Fay.
area commercialization will actually decrease – not increase – the
number of available parking spaces," Fay said. "Truckstops
and travel plazas at the interchanges provide 90 percent of this
nation's truck parking. Rest area commercialization will close down
many of these businesses, which in turn would create a severe truck
of Maryland study
1997, University of Maryland researchers found interchange businesses
would lose between 60 percent and 70 percent of sales if interstate
commercialization were to occur, Natso said. Instead of choosing
to stop at an interchange business, most motorists opt instead to
use the commercialized rest area on the shoulder of the road. While
the state might make more money, the tax base of local governments
would shrink, Natso added.
the interstate highway system was created in 1956, community leaders
feared that local businesses, jobs and their tax base would dry
up as motorists and truckers bypassed their cities and towns. In
response, Congress banned development on the Interstates themselves.
Forty-seven years later, we can see the wisdom of that decision
to protect communities. Over 60,000 businesses have sprung up at
interchanges across America, serving the needs of highway users
and providing jobs and taxes for counties, cities and towns,"
said the American Trucking Associations and many other groups have
historically opposed rest area commercialization.
proposal is particularly ill-conceived at a time when lawmakers
are seeking ways to stimulate business growth and development to
help our economy," he added.
full text of the pro-commercialization provision is available on www.travelplaza.org.
is the association of America's $42 billion travel plaza and truckstop
industry. Founded in 1960, Natso represents the industry on legislative
and regulatory matters; serves as the official source of information
on the travel plaza and truckstop industry; provides education to
its members; conducts an annual convention and trade show; and supports
efforts to improve the business climate in which its members operate.