Shuttered Virginia rest areas reopen for business

By Clarissa Kell-Holland, Land Line staff writer | 4/16/2010

Nearly nine months after 19 rest areas were shuttered because of budget cuts in Virginia, all are back open for business, which amounts to good news for truckers.

The rest areas were reopened over a two-month period, beginning in mid-February. The remaining seven rest areas were reopened on Wednesday, April 14, a day earlier than promised.

In July 2009, former Gov. Tim Kaine closed the rest areas, despite objections from thousands of OOIDA members and others who attended public meetings, submitted comments and contacted their lawmakers about the closures.

The decision was made to close the rest areas to trim approximately $9 million from the Virginia Department of Transportation’s budget. The transportation agency is anticipating a $4.6 billion revenue shortfall in funding over a six-year period.

Virginia’s new governor, Robert F. McDonnell, vowed on the campaign trail that if elected he would reopen the rest areas within 90 days of taking office, which he has done.

OOIDA Member Lyman Lincoln of Huber Heights, OH, told Land Line, that he is pleased with the governor’s decision to reopen the rest areas.

“This is a very good thing,” Lincoln said. “It’s nice to hear that the governor kept his word and that he didn’t make those comments to reopen the rest areas just to get elected.”

Lincoln said he was in Virginia about a month ago and noticed “quite a few of the rest areas had been reopened.”

“These (rest areas) are important because sometimes we get out here and run out of hours or just get tired and we need a place to pull off and catch some rest so we can drive safely,” he said.