The US government had recently decided to permanently close 19 safety rest areas and to greet centers made last year by the Commonwealth Transportation Board. But this decision was reversed after the influence of American Trucking Associations (ATA) and the Virginia Trucking Association (VTA).
The unexpected resolution to lessen such facilities in the state from 42 to 23 was made for budgetary reasons but was criticized as "the wrong place to cut funds" by the ATA.
Truck drivers reported that they were already lacking parking amenities in Virginia, mainly for interstate freight movements and therefore closing of any of the existing rest stops was considered by many to be an unsafe move. Dale Bennett, VTA President and CEO commented:
"We applaud Gov. McDonnell for taking these steps to help prevent driver fatigue and provide safe, secure parking spaces for truck drivers to comply with federal hours of service regulations."
Gov. McDonnell said that the gates at closed areas will reopen once the workers reconnect power and water, stock traveler information centers; clean the facilities install vending machines and restore the grounds. The Virginia Department of Transportation has decided to spend $3 million from its maintenance reserve fund to activate the facilities until June 30, and will recognize long-term funding during revisions of budget this spring, a state spokesman said. The state also plans to develop the rest areas and welcome centers to make them more outstanding and inviting
A map of the reopened rest areas is available here.