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States eye ways to keep rest stops open

| April 19, 2013

With states struggling to find funding to keep rest areas open, two states have joined the list of those looking for privatized options: Louisiana and New Hampshire recently advanced legislation that would permit private sponsorship to help fund rest areas. New Jersey, however, has slowed down on the idea.

Meanwhile, measures to allow limited privatization of rest areas appear to have bogged down in Maryland and Washington legislatures, too.

Louisiana’s Senate transportation committee received a bill April 18 to permit private sponsorship of signs and advertising, including in rest areas and on state-owned ferries. House members unanimously approved the measure April 16.

New Hampshire’s Senate had scheduled a March 28 hearing on a bill to allow private entities naming rights of state rest areas. House members passed that legislation March 20.

Four of the state’s 13 rest areas have closed indefinitely and three of the locations are open summers only.

In New Jersey, Senators were set for a second reading March 4 of legislation to allow private entities sponsorship of rest areas.

Neighboring Maryland had considered a measure to permit rest areas and welcome centers within state highway right-of-ways to privatize operation and maintenance services. House members had scheduled a Feb. 28 hearing on the bill.

Finally, Washington legislators had considered allowing rest area demonstration projects where state rest stops currently do not exist. Private and non-profit groups would provide rest area service at no cost to the state and money received from these projects would be deposited into the state motor vehicle account

Senators heard concerns over implementation costs of this plan at a Jan. 29 hearing.

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