The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) should work with existing interstate exit-based businesses to install electric car-charging stations rather than compete with the private sector by utilizing taxpayer dollars to establish them at rest areas, NATSO told the agency this week.
NATSO submitted the comments in response to VDOT’s request for public comments on its 2013 public-private partnerships project pipeline. The pipeline includes plans to explore the feasibility of installing electric-charging stations at rest areas.
Federal law prohibits states from offering commercial services at rest areas built after 1960. This includes the establishment of fees for electric vehicle charging stations. Congress prohibited states from offering commercial services at rest areas along the Interstate Highway System specifically so that private sector entities would grow and provide the services needed by travelers. Section 111 of Title 23 U.S.C. prohibits rest areas built after Jan. 1, 1960, from offering commercial services such as food and fuel.
NATSO strongly opposes the installation of electric car charging stations at rest areas and thinks states should work with existing exit-based businesses to install electric car charging stations at private businesses. Furthermore, NATSO believes that state governments should not provide transportation fuel – in this case electricity – paid for with tax dollars.
Offering electric charging services at rest areas would allow the state to enter into direct competition with the private businesses already operating near the interstate exit interchanges to meet the fueling needs of the motoring public. If state governments preempt consumer demand for this new technology, they will effectively destroy the incentive for private sector investment, NATSO said in its comments.
NATSO highlighted the fact that North Carolina recently had to remove electric charging stations from its rest areas because of the federal prohibition after a state law directed NCDOT to find a way to charge for the service.
NATSO supports the establishment of innovative partnerships that work with existing exit-businesses and do not jeopardize them by offering commercial services at rest areas. The Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT), for example, has targeted travel centers, restaurants and convenience stores for installation of equipment along Interstate 5.
This article originally ran in NATSO News Weekly (NNW), NATSO's member only weekly electronic newsletter. NNW is packed with the latest updates on government and business issues affecting the truckstop and travel plaza industry.
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