VDOT

Potty Politics, Part II

Written by Amy Gardner, Source: The Washington Post

Even as the clock ticks down on the life of 18 rest stops set to close tonight across Virginia, lawmakers, statewide officials and even political candidates are weighing in.

U.S. Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.) and U.S. Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.) worked the ranks of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation pretty heavily on Friday, trying to attach an amendment to this year's transportation spending bill that would allow Virginia to privatize its rest stops. The move would have kept the facilities open -- and opened them up to the Sbarros, Starbucks and Cinnabons that we all know and love on our journeys through Maryland, Delaware and New Jersey.

Enter the fast-food lobby, which pressured members of the subcommittee to leave well enough alone so as not to kill the McDonald's and Wawa franchisees with strategic locations just off some of the exit ramps of Virginia's federal highway system. It's a reasonable discussion point: Should the state take business away from private business operators?

State Del. Bob Marshall, meanwhile, spent much of Saturday (and today) at the rest stop on Interstate 66 near Manassas asking travelers how they feel about the pending shuttering of nearly half of the state's 40-something rest areas. (Answer: not good). Marshall has good reason to feel pretty strongly about the issue: his son died on Interstate 81 after rear-ending a tractor-trailer parked along the side of the road for lack of a safer place to stop.

READ THE FULL TEXT at THE WASHINGTON POST

Governor, Supervisors Seek Rest Area Help

By JONATHAN HUNLEY Source: Inside NOVA

Coffee-chugging tourists can take heart: There appears to be no ... well ... rest in the fight to keep open nearly half of Virginia’s rest areas.

State Transportation Secretary Pierce R. Homer sent a letter Thursday to the Old Dominion’s congressional delegation, seeking federal help to allow businesses to operate at interstate rest stops.

Prince William’s Board of County Supervisors likewise sent a letter to the congressmen and senators who represent the locality in Washington.

And Gov. Timothy M. Kaine sent a letter to Rep. John W. Olver, who chairs the House Appropriations Transportation subcommittee.

Nineteen of 42 highway rest stops — including those on Interstate 95 in Dale City and Interstate 66 in Manassas — are slated to close to save $9 million toward a $2.6 billion transportation budget shortfall.

All but one would be shuttered Tuesday, forcing full-bladdered motorists to exit the highways for relief.

However, Homer wrote, if federal law prohibiting business activity at Virginia rest areas was changed, that commerce could be a saving grace.

READ THE FULL TEXT at INSIDE NOVA