Businesses at Interstate Exits Employ Millions of People
2.2 million people worked at jobs off Interstate exits in 2010. Who are these men and women?
- Some are motel housekeepers striving to support their families.
- Others may be students waiting tables to save money for college.
- Still others are mechanics repairing long-haul trucks, fuel station attendants, store clerks and more.
In short, they are our neighbors, friends and family members working at businesses that need travelers to pull off the Interstate and walk through their doors to thrive.
State Proposals Jeopardize Jobs At Exits
Imagine these workers’ reactions when, in a time of shocking unemployment rates, some states have plans that could put their employers out of business.
- The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials and several state Departments of Transportation propose that states should compete with small-town businesses, siphoning jobs and customers to fix state budget shortfalls by establishing commercial rest areas along the interstate right-of-way.
Plans Risk Jobs Amid Shocking Unemployment
America’s unemployment rate rose to nearly 10 percent in 2010, and remains at historically high levels. In this climate, it is inconceivable that states would develop plans to use taxpayers’ own resources to put taxpayers out of work. Yet, that is exactly what proposals to “commercialize” rest areas would do.
Located on the median or shoulder of the interstate, commercialized rest areas operate as virtual monopolies because of their location. Any proposal to establish commercialized rest areas would cripple the employers at exits that depend on interstate travelers.
Efficient, Pro-Employment Alternatives Abound
There are more efficient and effective alternatives at hand that could strengthen employers. Here are two example:
- States could promote alternative fuels through incentives to help existing truckstops and gasoline stations install various alternative fuel dispensers. Not only would this support local businesses, but it would also be faster than building new facilities.
- States could also use the federal Interstate Oasis program, which identifies interstate-based businesses where passengers can rest while on the highway. These facilities can help states provide services to travelers and foster alternative fuels without threatening existing businesses.