Archive for March, 2011

AASHTO Asks DOT To Circumvent Federal Law

Monday, March 21st, 2011

The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) may want the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) to circumvent federal law and allow commercial rest areas but the reality is, laws passed by Congress cannot be circumvented or waived by federal agencies.


AASHTO last week recommended that DOT work to advance rest area commercialization despite its prohibition under current federal law. AASHTO made the recommendations in response to a DOT initiative requesting ways to streamline current regulations.


AASHTO urged DOT to consider circumventing federal law under the Federal Highway Administration’s (FHWA) ”Special Experimental Project-15″ (SEP-15) program; authorizing commercial rest areas at Interstate Highway interchanges and allowing footpaths between interstate rest areas and commercial facilities located next to the existing rest area property.


Two years ago, the states of Oregon, Washington and California submitted a SEP-15 application to FHWA seeking to commercialize rest areas along I-5 with electric charging infrastructure, food and other services under the same SEP-15 program. NATSO, representing the truck stop and travel plaza industry, wrote to FHWA saying the SEP-15 program does not give the agency the authority to waive federal law. The Partnership to Save Highway Communities will once again clarify for AASHTO that laws passed by Congress cannot be circumvented or waived by federal agencies.  


The fact is, alternative solutions exist for cash-strapped states seeking ways to generate revenue. And they don’t threaten the livelihood of thousands of Interstate-based businesses that supply jobs and tax revenues to local communities nationwide.


Just last week Virginia lawmakers passed a bill allowing prison inmates to maintain state rest areas. The law goes into effect July 1.

Interstate-based Businesses Eligible to Install Electric Vehicle Charging Stations

Monday, March 14th, 2011

Interstate-based businesses may be eligible to install electric vehicle charging stations under the  U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) “EV Project,”  which commenced installation of residential EV charging units in the state of Washington last week.  Nearly 15,000 commercial and residential electric vehicle charging stations in six states and the District of Columbia are expected to come online under the project that is funded by the DOE through a federal stimulus grant of $114.8 million in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.  


Washington joins other EV Project regions in California, Oregon and Arizona with the installation of residential charging infrastructure that lay the groundwork for the deployment and installation of commercial charging stations. In addition to these states, the program includes Tennessee, Texas, and the District of Columbia.


Ecotality’s EV Project was designed to begin establishing a nationwide electric car charging infrastructure along the Interstate Highway System.  Cracker Barrel Old Country Store marked one of the first businesses to partner with Ecotality, announcing plans last fall to install 24 electric vehicle charging stations along a 425-mile stretch in Tennessee.


NATSO, a member of the Partnership to Save Highway Communities, supports the installation of electric car charging stations at private businesses rather than rest areas.


To find out more information and apply for a charging station to be installed at your business click here, and select the penultimate option: “I am a business owner who would like to have a charging station installed at my place of business.”



NATSO President and Chairman Speak to Truck Drivers on Midnight Trucking Radio

Wednesday, March 9th, 2011

NATSO President and CEO Lisa Mullings and NATSO Chairman Bobby Berkstresser recently appeared on the Midnight Trucking Radio Network to discuss issues that will affect Interstate-based businesses in 2011 and to educate drivers about the negative effects of commercial rest areas.

When asked about the impact rest area commercialization would have on truck drivers, Mullings cited recent data illustrating that truck parking capacity is substantially greater on the stretches of the Interstate highway where commercial rest areas are prohibited. In general, sections of highway in states operating commercial rest areas have two fewer parking spaces per mile, she said. 

Berkstresser, who operates White’s Travel Center in Raphine, Va.,  said commercial rest areas would devastate businesses like his and the nearby communities they support through jobs and tax revenues.

A complete interview can be heard here.

Tell Your Lawmaker Commercial Rest Areas Hurt Jobs and Local Communities

Tuesday, March 8th, 2011

All politics is local, and lawmakers need to hear from their constituents about issues that affect their businesses and the communities where they operate.

As Congress debates the next surface transportation bill, it’s critical that Interstate-based businesses educate lawmakers about the important role they play in providing jobs and tax revenue to local communities nationwide as well as voice concern with policies that could adversely affect them, such as rest area commercialization.

One upcoming opportunity to do just that is to join NATSO in Washington, D.C., on May 10 – 11 for NATSO Day on Capitol Hill.

Visit to register, view the schedule of events, and find a link to the hotel room block for May 9 and 10 at the Grand Hyatt in Washington, D.C.

Attendees also can attend the NATSO Pie Reception, where you can mingle with lawmakers and their staffs, and enjoy delicious pies from local truckstops.