Virginia to reopen rest areas

Acting on an appeal by new Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, the Commonwealth Transportation Board voted Jan. 20 to reopen 19 highway rest stops that were closed last year by the former governor to save money.

Four of the rest stops will reopen by Feb. 17, followed by eight more by March 17, and the final seven by April 17.

McDonnell told the board that prison inmate labor and private contributions would help defray costs of reopening the rest stops. 

Former Gov. Tim Kaine said it would take about $3 million to operate the rest stops through the rest of the state fiscal year that ends June 30. That money will come from highway maintenance accounts.

Thousands of truckers and other drivers and businesspeople had complained about the rest stop closure last year. “For travelers to come to Virginia and see tape across the entrance to the rest stop and a big closed sign, it’s a bigger sign that Virginia is closed for business,” McDonnell said.