Archive for April, 2010

Rest Area “Expert” Misses Big Picture

Thursday, April 15th, 2010

Dr. Ronald Utt, Senior Research Fellow with the Heritage Foundation, continues to hold himself up as an expert on the subject of rest area commercialization despite that he repeatedly illustrates just how little he knows about the subject. In several newspaper articles and internet blogs, Dr. Utt repeatedly called the law preventing commercial rest areas “stupid” and has openly suggested that state governors ignore Federal law.

Dr. Utt’s misinformed viewpoints about why states should rent their highway parcels and provide commercial services as a means of generating state revenue have been published by newspapers and other media outlets nationwide. And virtually all of them have been uncontested.

The most recent offender was the website

In an April 11 article titled “Heritage Foundation’s Ronald Utt Discusses Commercialization of Highway Rest Areas,” Utt shockingly declares that most of the businesses the Federal ban on commercialized rest areas was designed to protect are no longer in operation.

The fact of the matter is, the law has encouraged highway competition, not restricted it. Some 60,000 businesses operate off the nation’s Interstate Highway exits today because of this Federal law. In areas permitted to offer such services, half as many businesses operate near Interstate highways.

Read the fine print and you’ll understand Dr. Utt is really suggesting that hard-working Americans who invested millions to operate businesses near the Interstate — and who depend on motorists exiting the Interstate – should simply hand them over to the state. Such a move defies all economic logic.

That’s exactly what would happen if the government created rest area monopolies. Small town businesses would be destroyed. Local communities would lose jobs as well as the tax revenues that support schools, fire departments, police protection and a host of other community services.

Dr. Utt should know that national corporations historically win the government contracts to run commercialized rest areas. If Dr. Utt’s proposed ideas take hold, big corporations will win at the expense of scores of locally-owned businesses, pulling the rug out from small towns across America.

We hope the next time a story is run on commercializing rest areas, reporters will take a look at both sides of the story, and not rely solely on the opinions of a so-called “expert.”