NATSO, a national association representing truckstops and travel plazas, has come out against the Governor of Arizona's push to commercialize rest areas along interstate highways.
In a letter to Department of Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R) asked that Arizona be exempted from a federal law that prohibits commercial activity at the state’s rest areas. Gov. Ducey is requesting that Arizona be granted federal permission to launch a pilot program to commercialize rest areas in order to pay for their upkeep.
The federal law had the effect of privatizing highway services in 1960 when Congress prohibited states from offering commercial services at rest areas along the Interstate Highway System. NATSO stated that commercializing truckstops could displace restaurants, travel plazas, truckstops, convenience store,s and other businesses that already exist throughout the state.
"Rest area commercialization threatens thousands of businesses serving travelers at the interstate exits,” said Lisa Mullings, NATSO president and CEO. “This ill-advised proposal risks the livelihood of hundreds of Arizona business owners and their employees, and would hurt local communities who depend on the property taxes these businesses pay to fund schools and police.”
NATSO stated that the governor’s actions is not privatizing commerce at rest areas, but rather would act as a way to transfer sales away from the private sector by creating a government-sanctioned monopoly.
"We don't need a pilot program to see the effects of commercial rest areas on local communities and businesses because there are at least a dozen states that oversee commercialized rest areas," said Mullings. "We can witness the anti-competitive effect that commercialized rest areas has on Interstate businesses.”