Decision expected on rest area closures, lifting of two-hour time limit in VA

| 6/16/2009

A final decision is expected in the next day or so on the 19 rest areas that are on the chopping block in Virginia.

The announcement will be made at the Commonwealth Transportation Board’s monthly workshop and public meeting on June 17-18.

While the Virginia Department of Transportation says the closures are needed to save $9 million, the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association has been pushing for VDOT to keep these vital safety rest areas open.

However, there may be some good news for truckers as the CTB considers a recommendation by VDOT to eliminate its two-hour rule at rest areas, something OOIDA has been fighting for as well.

The two-hour rule and how it restricts drivers from complying with their 10-hour federally mandated breaks, surfaced at a series of public meetings VDOT hosted on the issue.

Recently, OOIDA member Frederick Schaffner of Nocona, TX, received a letter from Virginia Secretary of Transportation Pierce R. Homer regarding VDOT’s recommendation to “lift the two-hour parking restriction.”

Schaffner was among the countless OOIDA members who have been diligently contacting VDOT, the CTB and lawmakers about closing the rest areas, as well as eliminating this restrictive two-hour limit at Virginia’s rest areas.

“VDOT hopes this action may contribute to assisting truckers in meeting the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration Hours of Service regulations and a greater opportunity for truckers to rest,” Homer wrote in the letter. “If approved by the board, it will be possible for truckers to park at a Virginia safety rest area for a 10-hour time period.”

For Schaffner, he said the letter from Homer is a “step in the right direction” in moving toward a positive partnership with truckers.

“While we are hopeful the CTB will take into consideration keeping all the rest areas open, eliminating the time limit will be a big help for those trying to comply with federal regulations without interruption.”

– By Clarissa Kell-Holland, staff writer