Archive for February, 2012

Ohio DOT Announces Plans to Modernize Rest Areas

Tuesday, February 28th, 2012

Despite the fact that Ohio says it is $50 million short on funds to operate its rest areas, the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) last week announced plans to modernize East and Westbound rest areas along U.S. 33 in Meigs County. The project is scheduled to go to bid this summer, and ODOT said it hopes to have the work completed by late fall.

A total of 44 rest areas in the state were scheduled for upgrades beginning in November 2010, including one along U.S. 50 in Athens County, the two along U.S. 33 in Hocking County and one along Ohio 7 in Gallia County. Ohio Reps. Steve LaTourette (R) and Dennis Kucinich (D) have introduced an amendment to the highway bill seeking to allow commercial rest areas both on and off interstate highways.

House Abandons Five-Year Highway Bill

Tuesday, February 28th, 2012

As the Partnership to Save Highway Communities and other groups were gearing up for a possible floor vote to attach an amendment on rest area commercialization to the highway bill, House Republicans decided  to put the highway bill on hold late Friday afternoon. While the future of the bill is uncertain, the House reportedly plans to pass a shorter-term bill.

The five-year, $260 billion highway bill was scheduled to come to the floor this week for a full House vote, but Democrats and some conservative Republicans were united in opposition to the bill.

At this time, the Partnership is working to determine what this will mean for language in the bill that would have allowed states to sell advertising and sponsorships at rest areas as well as Amendment 217, which seeks to allow the commercialization of rest areas located both on and off the interstate highway.

House and Senate Set to Consider Transportation Legislation

Tuesday, February 14th, 2012

Both the House and Senate will take up separate transportation bills this week.

The U.S. House of Representatives is scheduled to consider H.R. 7, The American Energy and Infrastructure Jobs Act of 2012, on Wednesday. The five-year, $260 billion bill has been the subject of much debate mostly due to the ways in which it will be paid for.  The bill cuts off fuel-tax revenue for public transit, expands offshore oil and Alaska drilling, requires approval of the Keystone XL oil pipeline, and reduces retirement benefits for federal workers to help pay for transportation.  The bill also allows limited commercial activities at rest areas, allowing for advertising and sponsorships, and promotion of state tourism.

In the Senate,  a two-year $109 billion bill titled Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21), will be considered this week as well.

NATSO, a member of the Partnership to Save Highway Communities, has joined with other transportation groups issuing a letter opposing a possible amendment to allow expanded tolling on existing interstates.

Independent Oil Marketer Testifies Against New Hampshire Study of Rest Area Commercialization

Friday, February 10th, 2012

A member of the Independent Oil Marketers Association (IOMA) testified Feb. 7 in opposition to New Hampshire HB 1293, which would establish a commission to study retail opportunities and the sale of gasoline at rest areas on the state’s interstate highways.

IOMA member Tom Frawley of Summit Distribution in Lebanon, N.H., testified before the New Hampshire House Public Works and Highways Committee that federal law prohibits interstate rest areas built after 1960 from offering commercial services such as food and fuel. He also  testified that while Congress currently is in the process of the transportation reauthorization, neither the House nor the Senate bills that have been introduced propose any changes that would allow commercial fuel stations at rest areas.

Regardless of the outcome of HB 1293 or the study it authorizes, New Hampshire could not move forward with gas stations at rest areas on the Interstate Highway System under federal law.