Sen. Kirk Releases Commercial Rest Area Bill; Opposition Gains National Attention

Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) last week unveiled a bill overturning the federal prohibition on commercial rest areas and expanding public private partnerships (3Ps) nationwide. The bill, which has not yet been formally introduced, seeks to permit states to sell food and fuel from interstate rest areas, as well as removes federal restrictions on 3Ps in an effort to grant states greater flexibility in generating transportation revenues. It also allocates funds from those 3P projects to develop additional ones.

The Partnership to Save Highway Communities issued a press statement¬†criticizing Sen. Kirk’s bill, saying it would pull the rug out from under the nation’s interstate-based fast food franchisees, convenience stores, gas stations and truck stops at a time when the businesses are just starting to see signs of recovery from the recession.¬†

The Partnership’s press statement garnered national media coverage from the Wall Street Journal and America’s Radio News Network as well as industry trade publications. In “Last Exit for Roadside Businesses?” The Wall Street Journal cited a recent study by Virginia Tech that estimated interstate-based businesses would lose $55 billion annually and sales at independent gas stations and restaurants would be cut in half if states are allowed to commercialize rest areas. The newspaper is working on a second article for the print edition.

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