NATSO Continues Fight Against Rest Area Commercialization

The rest area commercialization portion of President Bush’s proposed six-year transportation reauthorization bill would destroy many interstate businesses, according to NATSO.

The truckstop trade organization said May 14 that Bush’s $247 billion surface transportation reauthorization proposal would result in many interstate truckstops, restaurants and other interstate businesses closing. Governmental entities would suffer from a decrease in property tax receipts.

The proposed legislation would allow states to offer commercial services at rest areas on interstate right-of-ways as pilot projects, said NATSO president William Fay.

The University of Maryland released a study stating that half of the businesses that cater to interstate traffic – such as truckstops and hotels – would close if rest area commercialization was implemented.

NATSO is sending copies of the study to more than 3,000 counties and all the nation’s governors. The association also is working to recruit the National Association of Counties and the National Governors Association to the Alliance to Save Interstate Services, a NATSO-led coalition to fight commercialization.

Fay said the bill’s language requiring pilot projects to include a review and update of an action plan to address truck parking shortages would not result in more truck parking.

“Rest area commercialization will actually decrease – not increase – the number of available parking spaces,” he said. “Truckstops and travel plazas at the interchanges provide 90 percent of this nation’s truck parking. Rest area commercialization will close down many of these businesses, which in turn would create a severe truck parking shortage.”