LA Times Discusses Commercialization Issue

The Los Angeles Times ran this story yesterday regarding the issue of rest area commercialization and its potential impacts on highway-based communities and the motorists they serve. The story presents arguments both for and against commercialization, but ultimately frames the issue by suggesting that commercialization is the only option for keeping rest areas open.

As we have discussed before, even in these difficult economic times, commercialization isn’t the only way to preserve rest areas. Texas for example, is planning to spend $30 million to upgrade their rest areas to make them more attractive to motorists. Texas offers free Wi-Fi hotspots and kiosks that enable local businesses to advertise their services – a win-win for both the state and local communities.

In Virginia, the current epicenter of debate regarding rest areas and commercialization, lawmakers have tried on several occasions to keep the rest areas open, but Virginia Department of Transportation Officials have repeatedly closed the door on any attempts to save them.

The role of highway rest areas in state’s transportation strategy should focus solely on a state’s commitment to the safety of travelers in the state. In the case of Virginia, the commonwealth decided that the 18 closed rest areas were not worth the $9 million it would allegedly cost to keep them open.

The prospects of commercial rest areas are not an either/or proposition. There are plenty of ways to operate these facilities without seeking to unfairly compete with existing businesses that have invested heavily to meet the needs of highway motorists.

Leave a Reply