States Pursue Rest Area Commercialization

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.

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