Archive for January, 2012

NATSO Urges Missouri Lawmakers Not to Toll I-70

Tuesday, January 24th, 2012

NATSO, a member of the Partnership to Save Highway Communities representing truckstops and travel plazas, is urging Missouri lawmakers to oppose a proposal to toll Interstate 70 between St. Louis and Kansas City.

In a letter to state Sen. Bill Stouffer (R-21) and state Rep. Charlie Denison (R-135), co-chairs of the state’s Joint Committee on Transportation Oversight, NATSO said both traditional tolling and public private partnerships negatively impact consumers and interstate businesses that have grown up in towns and communities near interstate exits.

NATSO said while it recognized the need to maintain I-70, study after study shows that tolls carry astronomically higher capital and overhead expenditures compared with the fuel tax.  NATSO also expressed concern with the structure of public private partnership deals that typically offer states most of the revenues up-front and that are most often used by states to fix short-term budget woes.  “For highway users and taxpayers, the long-term leases that typically last for 75 to 100 years mean nothing more than tolling without input from elected officials,” NATSO said.

N.C. Unveils Electric Vehicle Charging Station at Rest Area

Friday, January 20th, 2012

North Carolina has installed EV charging stations in rest areas near Burlington on Interstate 40, and at the junction of Interstates 95 and 40.  The state is providing the charging service free of charge due to federal laws prohibiting commercial services at interstate rest areas.  Raleigh-based Praxis Technologies Inc. provided the stations through a grant from the state Commerce Department.  Retailers should be alarmed about the state government providing transportation fuel — in this case, electricity –  paid for with tax dollars.  This is a strategy for state departments of transportation to help make the case that they need to have the ability to start charging for the service, and that the federal ban on rest area commercialization should be overturned.

States Pursue Rest Area Commercialization

Tuesday, January 17th, 2012

Several states, including New Hampshire, Washington, and New York, could consider legislation this year regarding rest area commercialization. New Hampshire and Washington are interested in authorizing the sale of commercial services in rest areas pursuant to a change in federal law. Legislation in New York, meanwhile, has been introduced to authorize the use of public-private partnerships in transportation including rest areas and a number of other facilities.

The Partnership to Save Highway Communities opposes passage of these bills, which would increase pressure on Congress to act on the issue.

Measures under consideration, all of which would require a change in the federal law prohibiting rest area commercialization, include:

•    Legislation in New York, A 8487, sponsored by Democratic Assemblyman Joseph D. Morelle, would authorize the use of public-private partnerships in transportation, including rest areas and other transportation facilities.

•    Legislation in New Hampshire, HB 1293 sponsored by state Rep. Ken Sheffert (R), would establish a commission to study retail opportunities and the sale of gasoline at rest areas on interstate highways. The House Public Works and Highways Committee will hold a hearing on the bill on Feb. 7.

•    Legislation in Washington state to allow for commercial rest areas was up for consideration last year and has been reintroduced. SB 5218 sponsored by state Sen. Paul Shin (D), would authorize commercial activities at rest areas pursuant to federal law.