Permitting the government to compete with private, off-highway businesses would result in higher costs for consumers, lost revenues for towns and localities nationwide, shuttered small businesses and lost jobs, a top truckstop official said in a recent letter published in the Washington Examiner.
Responding to an article that urged Congress to allow commercial activity at rest areas as a means of advancing the adoption of electric vehicle charging, [“This is why rest areas on federal highways are so boring," April 21] Delia Moon Meier, owner of Iowa 80 Truckstop, said that commercializing rest areas would obliterate any incentive for the private sector to invest in alternative fuels infrastructure.
“Private businesses like Iowa 80 … thrive precisely because when Congress created the Interstate Highway System in 1956, lawmakers and community leaders understood that local businesses, jobs and tax bases would shrink as motorists and truck drivers bypassed their cities and towns,” Moon Meier wrote. “For this reason, Congress prohibited new interstate rest areas from offering commercial services, such as food and fuel. Since then, businesses such as mine have clustered near interstate exits to provide these services to travelers. This policy rationale is no less critical to towns and businesses today than it was 50 years ago.”
Moon Meier said the idea that commercial activity at rest areas would drive the deployment of technology for infrastructure is especially misguided and would effectively halt business investment in alternative fuels infrastructure.
Iowa 80 currently is drawing up plans to add six charging stations to its location in Walcott, Iowa, at an expected cost of more than $400,000, Moon Meier said. This does not include any costs for the street or parking lot.
Commercializing interstate rest areas would create far more problems than it will solve, Moon Meier wrote. “In the long-run, private sector investment is the only way to ensure widespread proliferation of alternative fuel infrastructure.”
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