rest stops

Virginia Lawmakers Say ‘No’ to Bill Reopening Rest Areas

Source: Land Line Magazine The likelihood of Virginia reopening its closed rest areas anytime soon suffered a blow this week at the state Capitol.

Lawmakers who wanted to take advantage of a special session of the General Assembly to put before legislators an effort to reopen 18 rest areas will instead have to wait until next year. The rest areas were closed on July 21.

The House of Delegates voted 82-7 on Wednesday, Aug. 19, to limit the chamber’s business to a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision. As a result, consideration of a bill to reopen rest areas must wait until the next regular session convenes in January.

A group of lawmakers had sought to bring up for consideration a bill to have Gov. Tim Kaine and the Virginia Department of Transportation come up with the $9 million the agency says is needed to reopen the rest areas.

One option touted by Delegate Steve Landes, R-Weyers Cave, calls for delaying a $12 million renovation to VDOT’s central office in Richmond.

Another possible solution was addressed in a recent letter to the editor to the Culpeper Star Exponent. Delegate Bob Marshall, R-Culpeper, requested the state’s secretary of transportation to shift some of the available maintenance funds into the rest areas that have been shuttered.

Among the most important reasons for reopening the rest areas that Marshall cited are the effects it has on over-the-road truck drivers who are required by law to stop and rest.

“In the long run the closures will cost us more both in lives as a result of higher need for emergency services,” Marshall wrote.


Governor, Supervisors Seek Rest Area Help


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.