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.