Del. Robert G. "Bob" Marshall (R-13th District) sent a letter Tuesday to Congressman Frank Wolf and Sen. Mark Warner requesting that they introduce an amendment to the Transportation Appropriations Bill to suspend the federal law for one year which prohibits Virginia and other states from contracting with private restaurants or gas stations to operate at state owned rest stops on interstates. This would give Virginia a way to get the large number of rest stops that will close July 21 to reopen as quickly as possible.
Marshall believes that the $8.6 million needed to keep the rest stops open could have been found in Virginia's $78 billion two-year budget. However, since Gov. Tim Kaine decided to cut this service from Virginia's budget, Marshall is trying to find an alternative way to keep the rest stops open.
"These services are the public face of the government of Virginia that citizens and visitors see and feel in their daily lives," says Marshall. "Public safety and practical necessity require that these Virginia Interstate rest stops and welcome centers stay open. I think that allowing these public/private partnerships would be a great way to get these rest stops reopened as soon as possible."
Marshall noted in his letter to Wolf that the closing of these facilities will negatively effect Virginia's economy in several ways including negative impacts to tourism and the loss of jobs associated with the rest stops.
"In this economy that is unacceptable," says Marshall.
He also mentioned the negative safety impacts as a result of these closures.
"In many areas of Virginia these rest stops are the only place for a drowsy driver to safely stop and rest," says Marshall. "We need to get these stops reopened."
You can contact Marshall at 703-853-4213.