Archive for October, 2009

Arizona Closes Rest Areas, But Resists Calls for Commercialization

Friday, October 16th, 2009

The Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) last week announced it was closing 13 of the state’s 18 rest areas, citing budget difficulties. ADOT officials called the closures temporary, and said they will look into reopening the facilities next summer when the state’s new fiscal year starts.

On the surface, ADOT’s decision to close rest areas to meet budgetary shortfalls resembles Virginia’s decision to close 19 rest areas in the state earlier this summer. But unlike Virginia, Arizona has resisted the urge to call for an end to the prohibition of commercial activity at rest areas to solve this problem. Virginia used its budget woes as a political maneuver to push for a repeal of the commercialization ban, opening up rest areas to unfair competition against private businesses.

Arizona is taking a more prudent approach. So far, the state appears to be working toward local business partnerships to meet motorists’ needs.

Using the model known as the Interstate Oasis program allows state departments of transportation to work with existing businesses to ensure that motorists have a safe and convenient place to rest while on the highway. A successful implementation of this program will benefit local businesses while allowing the state to direct funds for more critical projects. It’s a winning solution for the state, its taxpayers and Arizona businesses.

This editorial in Arizona’s East Valley Tribune makes an effective case for an Interstate Oasis-style approach for handling the rest area closures. We hope the state will follow through on this concept.