NATSO Urges Congress to Maintain Commercial Rest Area Ban

“This is a move to expand government, at a cost to businesses, county governments and consumers,” says NATSO CEO.

NATSO President and CEO Lisa Mullings is urging Congress to strongly oppose any effort to amend or repeal the Federal law prohibiting commercial development on the Interstate right-of-way, testifying that such efforts represented government intrusion into the private sector and would jeopardize businesses and jobs nationwide.

Speaking before the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee’s Subcommittee on Highways and Transit yesterday, March 29, Mullings said weakening current law would devastate more than 97,000 businesses that operate at the exits along the nation’s interstate system while threatening 2.2 million jobs and slashing funding for county governments.

“It is deceptively easy to mistake this issue as a pro-business initiative, a move to privatize rest area services,” Mullings testified. “But this is not privatization. True privatization is transferring a service or function from the government to a private sector business to achieve comparable or superior results. The government is not in the business of selling food and fuel; the private sector is already meeting that need. This is a move to expand government, at a cost to businesses, county governments and consumers.”

Congress outlawed commercial activities at interstate rest areas to foster competition and the growth of local communities near the Interstate Highway System. Today, this policy continues to promote a vigorous competitive environment. In the few states that operate commercial rest areas, there are 50 percent fewer businesses at interstate exits, according to a University of Maryland study.

Commercial rest areas drain local businesses of customers, jobs and local tax revenues by putting established businesses in direct competition with the state. Commercialized rest areas give the state an advantageous location on the interstate right-of-way, siphoning away customers who normally patronize exit-based businesses.

To read the full testimony of Lisa Mullings, visit

To learn more about this issue and the Partnership to Save Highway Communities, a coalition of interstate-based businesses opposed to commercial rest areas, visit

NATSO is the trade association of America’s travel plaza and truckstop industry.


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