I humbly accept the privilege of again serving as your Chairman in 2014! And borrowing a lyric from a Bob Dylan song, “we’re either born to live or we’re born to die.” I’m here to tell you in 2014 NATSO is born to LIVE!
As in 2013, I’m looking forward to working with you as we join together to protect the interests of our highway-based businesses both today and well into our future.
Throughout 2013, we continued fertilizing the seeds of growth for the truckstop and travel plaza industry, NATSO and especially The NATSO Show. As NATSO moves into 2014, the association will continue to protect the interests of interstate-based businesses. We must not shy away from the challenges 2014 will bring. Staying hungry was a mantra of Steve Jobs, and new challenges do just that—keep us hungry.
As an industry, we scored several major victories during 2013, particularly on the issue of tolling of existing interstates. Despite these recent wins, tolling remains a threat. NATSO and the Alliance for Toll Free Interstates will be working to ensure that existing interstates remain free of tolls and will advocate for the repeal of the tolling pilot program.
In the past, discussions on Capitol Hill over highway funding have opened the door for conversations on rest area commercialization. Now, I know some of you feel toll roads or commercialized rest areas will not happen or impact your markets. I thought that, too, until I heard the State of Washington talking about tolling I-90 within that state. The lights went on.
I-90 and I-94 are main east/west arteries running through Wyoming, South and North Dakota merging at Billings, Mont. Then, both interstates run together through Montana and Idaho into Washington. So, if Washington is allowed to begin tolling it’s likely to negatively impact our markets in the Dakotas and Wyoming. Glaringly, no one’s markets are void the negative impact of tolling!
Please make plans now to attend NATSO’s Day on the Hill to share your own personal stories. It is our duty to educate lawmakers as to the true costs that tolling and rest area commercialization will carry.
NATSO’s members have always been and continue to be the driving force behind the organization and together we can pool our collective efforts, time and resources to generate significant returns for our individual business and our industry as a whole. s
*Excerpted from the Chairman’s speech at The NATSO Show 2014 in Nashville, Tenn.
This article originally ran in Stop Watch magazine. Stop Watch provides in-depth content to assist NATSO members in improving their travel plaza business operations.
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