Va. to Reopen Rest Stops; States Struggle to Fund
DINWIDDIE, VA - Virginia is reopening 19 rest stops it closed less than a year ago because of budget shortfalls, the Associated Press reported.
This week Gov. Bob McDonnell took part in a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the Interstate 85 south rest stop in Dinwiddie. Eight rest stops reopened Wednesday, March 17. The remaining rest stops will reopen by April 15.
The Virginia Department of Transportation said it will use its emergency maintenance reserve fund to operate the rest stops through the end of the fiscal year on June 30. Long-term funding will be determined as the department revises its maintenance budget.
The rest stops were closed last year by then-Gov. Tim Kaine.
Nationwide, maintenance of rest stops has become a bigger issue because of state budget-cutting efforts. Last fall, the Arizona Department of Transportation decided to close 13 of the state's 18 highway rest stops and touched off protests. Colorado, Georgia and Vermont have also closed rest stops.
"It's a safety problem, not only for us but car drivers," Clayton Boyce, a spokesman for the American Trucking Associations, told the New York Times. "We think it is a pretty bad idea." The ATA has fought against such rest stop closures.