AAA Mid-Atlantic is calling on Gov. Tim Kaine and the Commonwealth Transportation Board to rethink the scheduled closure of 19 interstate-highway rest areas.
“A growing number of motorists have expressed alarm about the decision to close the rest areas and to cordon off their entrances. This decision could compromise the safety of all motorists and dim Virginia’s image as a welcoming tourist destination,” said Martha Meade, the manager of puiblic and government affairs for AAA Mid-Atlantic.
Which is a good point, of course. The reality is that the money’s just not there, as the state struggles to even keep up with basic maintenance of state roads and highways with Republicans in Richmond serving as literal roadblocks to a sustainable transportation-funding solution.
Meade seems to get that. In a press release sent out to members of the media today, she hinted to a level of understanding of the fiscal challenges being faced by the CTB and the Virginia Department of Transportation by asking the rhetorical question, “Are we really to a point where we must choose between leaving a bridge in an unsafe state and closing rest areas?”
“The Virginia Department of Transportation says we are, and we know they are facing major funding challenges; however, AAA calls on them to get their very powerful magnifying glass out one more time to ensure that they have exhausted every viable option and that their decision is transparent and defensible,” Meade said. “It would be tragic to compromise the safety of motorists and desperately needed tourism revenue if there was any other reasonable option.”
The closures will leave open 23 other rest areas on highways in Virginia. The 19 closings scheduled to be completed this month will save VDOT an estimated $9 million a year in operations costs.
– Story by Chris Graham