Virginia to open truck-only rest area

Virginia is starting a pilot program to provide trucks-only rest areas along Interstates. (Courtesy Virginia Department of Transportation)Virginia is starting a pilot program to provide trucks-only rest areas along Interstates. (Courtesy Virginia Department of Transportation)

Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell Nov. 4 launched a new pilot program to provide additional truck parking along the Commonwealth’s Interstates.

For what McDonnell described as a “minimal cost to the Commonwealth,” the program will use undeveloped properties owned by the Virginia Department of Transportation as truck-only rest areas. The American Trucking Associations and the Virginia Trucking Association applauded the program.

“We are very appreciative of Governor McDonnell for continuing to recognize the essential role of America’s trucking industry and for his commitment to highway safety on the important issue of safety rest areas,” says Bill Graves, ATA president and chief executive officer. “ATA encourages other states with similar truck parking shortages to follow Virginia’s lead and look for similar opportunities to quickly expand parking at a minimal cost.”

The first site, a paved lot along the eastbound lanes of I-66, will open Monday, Nov. 8, and remain available for use 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The area will have portable toilets and trash cans and be patrolled by local police, the VDOT said.

The pilot period will last 90 days, followed by a 60-day evaluation period. The truck safety rest area will continue operations during the 60-day evaluation period. A similar rest area is in use on I-64 in Alleghany County. Pending the results of the pilot, additional truck parking facilities will be considered on or near other Interstates.

“We applaud the governor for taking this step to determine the feasibility of using this undeveloped property to increase the number of safe and secure parking spaces for truck drivers delivering goods throughout the Commonwealth,” said Dale Bennett, VTA president and CEO. “If the pilot is successful, this will be an inexpensive way to help prevent driver fatigue and improve safety on Virginia’s highways.”

ATA and VTA strongly urged McDonnell during his campaign for governor to reopen 19 safety rest areas and welcome centers shuttered by the previous administration because of funding cuts. McDonnell responded by promising he would, if elected, reopen the safety rest areas within three months of taking office. On April 14, McDonnell and VDOT officially reopened the remaining safety rest areas.

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