NATSO led a group of 15 trade associations representing off-highway communities, businesses, alternative fuel advocates and the National Federation of the Blind in urging Members of the Senate to oppose efforts to commercialize Interstate rest areas as they consider infrastructure legislation this year.
NATSO and its coalition of like-minded associations sent their letter just days after a series of infrastructure hearings kicked off on Capitol Hill, including one held by the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, which has jurisdiction over infrastructure in the Senate.
In the letter addressed to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Minority Leader Charles Schumer as well as Senators John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Chairman of the EPW Committee, and Ranking Member Tom Carper, the groups said that while they understand the budget challenges that many states face and the need for more infrastructure revenue, proposals to allow the private sector to operate Interstate rest areas are ill conceived and ultimately counter-productive.
"While at first glance rest area commercialization seems like an easy and convenient way to generate revenue, the fact is it will jeopradize private businesses that for the last 60 years have operated under the current law and established locations at the highway exit," the groups wrote.
The letter underscores the negative affect that commercial rest areas will have on businesses, consumers, cities and towns and blind entrepreneurs who currently enjoy a priority for installing and operating vending machines at Interstate rest areas.
Sen. Barrasso has been a strong champion for NATSO on tolling and rest area commercialization, having sent a letter to Transportation Secretary Chao urging her to oppose rest area commercialization in 2018.
Signatories included the Asian American Hotel Owners Association; Franchise Business Services; International Franchise Association; National Association of Convenience Stores; National Automatic Merchandising Association; National Council of Chain Restaurants; National Federation of the Blind; National Franchisee Association; National League of Cities; National Restaurant Association; National Tank Truck Carriers; Natural Gas Vehicles for America; Petroleum Marketers Association of America and the Society of Independent Gasoline Marketers of America.
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