Despite growing opposition to its plan to commercialize non-interstate rest areas, the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) on June 28 held a sparsely attended meeting in Columbus for potential bidders on the rest area projects.
According to meeting participants, only two or three companies that attended the meeting indicated an interest in bidding on the projects. Meeting participants expressed skepticism that ODOT would be able to move forward with its plan due to growing opposition. With Senator Rob Portman's failed effort in the U.S. Senate to repeal the federal law prohibiting commercial rest areas along the Interstate Highway System, ODOT is moving forward with a plan to commercialize rest areas located on other highways in the state.
At other public meetings last week hosted by ODOT, Ohio residents and business owners said ODOT's plan would hurt tourism, local business, the environment and traffic. They also voiced concern that shops and restaurants at the rest areas could hurt nearby businesses, according to articles in the Columbus Dispatch and NPR. Ohio's Athens County Commissioners strongly objected to the plan, saying it created undue competition for local businesses. They added that having proposals due in less than 60 days made it nearly impossible for small local businesses to compete with large corporations in the bidding.
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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