For Nearly 50 Years, Federal Law Has Defended Highway Community's Businesses
What's the prohibition on rest area commercialization? In a nutshell, it's a law designed to ensure the Interstate Highway System strengthens America's small town businesses. It ensures that state-owned rest areas on the highways don't force community businesses at nearby exits to close their doors or layoff staff.
The Commercialization Ban Has Been a Proven Success.
The ban on the sale of food and fuel at rest areas has resulted in a strongly competitive economic environment. Today, there are more than 97,000 businesses along U.S. interstate highways - ranging from travel plazas and truckstops to restaurants, hotels and gas stations.
Collectively, these businesses are estimated to employ more than 2.2 million people and contributed more than $22 billion in state and local taxes in 2010.
How do we know that the ban has played a role in this success? The evidence is clear - counties without commercialized rest areas have twice as many businesses at Interstate exits than those counties with commercialized rest areas.
State Attempts to Cash-In On Rest Areas Threaten Established Businesses
Many highway business owners invested millions in creating business models based on access to the Interstate. They paid top dollar for their land, because of the proximity to the Interstate and the 50-year ban restricting state governments from competing against them. For state-governments to pull the rug out from under these businesses - especially in today's economy - would be devastating.
Roger Cole, of Petro Stopping Center #56 in Ruther Glen, Virginia, is a business owner concerned about proposals to commercialize rest areas in Virginia. Hear his concerns on how the commercialization would threaten his business and 21 others located near an exit off I-95.