Archive for May, 2012

Ohio DOT Intrudes on the Private Sector

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2012

Despite the Senate’s overwhelming rejection of Senator Portman’s Amendment to the highway bill, Ohio Transportation officials continue to pursue commercial rest areas as a means of generating revenue for the state.

Most recently, ODOT issued a request for information (RFI) seeking input on an upcoming proposal to commercialize non-interstate rest areas across the state.

In its RFI, ODOT said it would seek to construct service plazas at 26 non-interstate rest areas to provide fuel, food, lodging and other travel-related services. ODOT plans to have all the plazas developed, financed and operated through a lease agreement.

In an interview with the “Cleveland Plain Dealer,” scheduled to appear soon, NATSO President and CEO Lisa Mullings said ODOT’s proposal to construct commercial rest areas along non-interstate routes represents yet another ill-conceived attempt by the state to compete with small-town businesses, threatening jobs and local tax dollars, as a way to fix state budget shortfalls.

“State financial budget problems are not a burden that should be transferred to local business owners and local communities,” Mullings said. “Yet this is exactly what the Ohio Department of Transportation is planning to do.”

Just last month the United States Senate rejected efforts to commercialize interstate rest areas. The amendment by Ohio Senator Rob Portman was defeated 86-12.

ODOT’s new plan isn’t any different than the old plan. It represents nothing more than government intrusion into the private sector at the expense of small business, the jobs they provide and the money they pour into their local towns.

California Rest Area Commercialization Bill Defeated

Tuesday, May 1st, 2012

California Assemblyman Ben Hueso’s bill to commercialize the state’s rest areas and pursue a waiver to the federal prohibition on the sale of commercial services on the interstate right-of-way failed last week in committee, marking a major victory for California’s fuel retailers. During the Assembly’s Transportation Committee hearing, the bill AB 2485 garnered only 6 “aye” votes. Eight were needed for the bill to pass from the committee.

The California Independent Oil Marketers Association (CIOMA), the California Council of the Blind and a national highway property alliance testified against the measure, saying it would cannibalize jobs and customers from privately owned, existing highway enterprises.

Calls from NATSO truckstops and travel plazas also helped to defeat this legislation.