NATSO Fights Rest Area Proposal

NATSO is opposing a provision in President Bush’s highway reauthorization bill that would allow states to conduct pilot projects to commercialize rest areas.

NATSO, the truckstop trade association, said in a Feb. 14 statement that if this legislation is approved, many interchange-area businesses, such as truckstops, would be forced to close.

William Fay, NATSO president and chief executive officer, cited a 1997 University of Maryland study that indicated interchange business would lose up to 70 percent of its sales if interstate commercialization occurred. Congress banned developments on interstates 47 years ago in response to this concern, he added.

In February, the American Trucking Associations reversed its position on supporting commercialization of interstate highways. The ATA will seek solutions to increase truck parking that will benefit NATSO and the association, ATA President Bill Graves told a NATSO meeting Feb. 6.

NATSO posted an advance copy of the proposed federal bill on its website. The bill would “allow states to acquire, construct, operate and maintain rest areas.”

The proposed legislation stipulates that state pilot projects would have to include a review and update of that state’s action plans for addressing truck parking shortages. The bill also requires that Congress receive a report on the projects three years after enactment of the provision.