NATSO, a national trade association representing travel plaza and truckstop owners is warning Arizona of the dangers of rest area commercialization.
Lisa Mullings, the president and CEO of NATSO told Arizona Director of Transportation John Halikowski that adding commercial services to rest areas would allow states to monopolize Interstate business, hurting established commercial enterprises operating at the Interstate exits and their employees.
During an interview Friday on Arizona Public Radio, Mullings said Congress has time and again upheld the Federal ban on commercialization because it makes sense from a public policy standpoint. “I’m not denying that states need creative solutions to their budget problems,” she said. “But this solution will do more damage than good.”
Mullings rebutted claims that local enterprises would benefit given the chance to bid on state rest area concession contracts. She noted historically only large international corporations have won such contracts, while owners of exit-based businesses would not abandon their investments to become a tenant in a state-run enterprise.
The Partnership to Save Highway Communities also warned Arizona Gov. Janice Brewer that adding commercial services to state-run rest areas would threaten Arizona jobs and cripple critical public services like schools, fire and police departments.
In a letter, the Coalition warned Gov. Brewer that adding fuel, food and other retail services to the Interstate right-of-way would radically alter the competitive landscape, devastating nearby businesses and communities by granting the state direct access to highway motorists.
The Coalition to Save Highway Communities encouraged Gov. Brewer to seek alternative solutions to solving any budgetary crisis caused by the recession, including innovative ideas that allow the state to partner with businesses to help meet the safety needs of the traveling public without threatening the livelihood of thousands of people.
NATSO represents more than 1,070 travel plazas and truckstops nationwide, owned by more than 240 corporate entities and aims to advance the success of truckstop and travel plaza members.