Legislation introduced to allow commercial services at public rest areas

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Legislation has been introduced that, if passed, would allow states to commercialize rest areas by adding convenience stores and restaurants.Legislation has been introduced that, if passed, would allow states to commercialize rest areas by adding convenience stores and restaurants.

Congressman Jim Banks (R-Ind.), along with Rep. Joe Courtney (D-Conn.), introduced legislation Thursday that would, if passed, allow states to add commercial services such as convenience stores and restaurants to public rest areas.

Truck stop owner advocate group NATSO, an opponent of rest area commercialization, said in an email to members this week that even though Banks does not sit on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, the group “takes this threat to the long-standing prohibition on commercial rest areas very seriously.”

The group reportedly obtained a letter circulated on Capitol Hill that states Banks’ legislation is meant as a means of generating infrastructure funding for states. NATSO said that while the legislation would help states increase infrastructure revenues, the bill would also allow states to appropriate the funds as they see fit.

“Across America, state governments are grappling with how to fund critical infrastructure needs,” Banks said. “Giving states the option to commercialize rest areas would create a new source of revenue for long-term infrastructure needs and provide drivers with a smoother travel experience. This bipartisan bill is a common-sense solution that would give states more control and turn fiscal liabilities into potential assets.”

According to Overdrive polling, owner-operators support greater commercialization of rest areas as a means to maintain or grow the number of rest area parking spaces.

NATSO says rest area commercialization could threaten existing truck stop locations.

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