A coalition of trade associations representing a broad cross-section of highway-based businesses and local communities urged Arizona's federal lawmakers to oppose efforts to commercialize Interstate rest areas, including Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey’s recent petition to the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) to allow the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) to operate commercial rest areas under a pilot program.
In a letter to U.S. House and Senate lawmakers representing Arizona, the trade groups said that Gov. Ducey’s proposal would redirect local tax revenues away from cities and towns to state coffers, eliminate jobs, and increase consumer prices. Commercial rest areas further threaten the livelihood of blind merchants who currently enjoy a priority for operating vending at state rest areas and threaten a Congressional objective to increase commercial truck parking.
“Governor Ducey’s proposal is ill conceived and ultimately counter-productive,” the trade groups wrote. “Such a request flies in the face of Congressional intent to protect the communities that line Interstates in Arizona and across the country.”
In early November, Gov. Ducey in a letter to Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao requested that the state of Arizona be granted a Special Experimental Project (SEP-15) to conduct a pilot project demonstrating the technology and innovation benefits of operating rest areas through a partnership with the private sector. Gov. Ducey also urged DOT to work with Congress to eliminate the federal prohibition altogether.
In his letter, Gov. Ducey referred to the federal prohibition on commercial rest areas as an “archaic” and nonsensical” prohibition that “punishes” states where commercial rest areas are not grandfathered in under the 1960s-era law.
NATSO immediately criticized Arizona for seeking to sidestep a federal law that has been debated and reaffirmed in Congress many times and seeking to allow the state to compete with small-town businesses, siphoning jobs, customers and local tax revenues.
NATSO was joined in signing the Dec. 5 letters to Arizona’s federal delegation by the Asian American Hotel Owners Association, 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, Petroleum Marketers Association of America, and the Society of Independent Gasoline Marketers of America.
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