NATSO Opposes Rest Area Commercialization at Congressional Roundtable

At a Congressional roundtable held last week, NATSO, the national association representing America’s truckstops and travel plazas and a member of the Partnership to Save Highway Communities, spoke in opposition to suggestions by proponents of public-private partnerships that rest area commercialization is a viable solution to budget woes suffered by state DOTs, as well as a business opportunity for the private sector.   


NATSO Director of Government Affairs Brad Stotler said allowing state governments to sell food and fuel from an advantageous location on the highway right-of-way would devastate businesses that for the last 50 years have operated under current laws and established locations at the highway exits. 


“The issue our coalition takes with rest area commercialization is that it will not increase the number of hamburgers or gasoline gallons sold, but simply transfer – because of the commercial rest areas advantageous location - the point of sale away from the competitive environment at highway exits, to the sole business entity who pays the state the largest amount of money to rent the location essentially on the shoulder of the highway,” Stotler said.

In our opinion, Congress privatized interstate services back in the 1960s when it prohibited commercial development at the rest areas.  Instead of allowing state highway departments to be in charge of deciding who should meet the needs of the motorist, Congress decided that this would be best done by the private sector – competing on a level playing field at the highway interchanges.”

The event, sponsored by Rep. John Duncan Jr. (R-Tenn.) and the Business Coalition for Fair Competition (BCFC), provided a forum for business groups to discuss specific areas where the government is unfairly competing with the private-sector in regards to transportation and areas where the government could more effectively outsource functions to the private sector. 


Advocates for increasing public-private partnerships in transportation were also participants in the roundtable discussion.  The groups that promote tolling on new and existing highways are beginning to advocate for rest area commercialization.  



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