Virginia Highway Rest Stops To Reopen

Virginia's Transportation Board voted to reopen 19 closed Interstate rest stops. They were shut last summer amid budget cuts, much to the dismay of travelers.

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And one of the ways states have tried to cut budget deficits is by closing interstate rest stops - I guess on the theory that every little bit counts. Virginia shut down its highway stops but yesterday, the state announced that it's reopening 19 of them.

NPR's Adam Hochberg has more.

ADAM HOCHBERG: The decision to reopen the rest stops is one of the first actions of Virginia's new governor, Republican Bob McDonnell, who took office just this past weekend. During the campaign, he criticized his predecessor for shutting the facilities down and yesterday, he announced theyll start reopening next month.

Governor BOB MCDONNELL (Republican, Virginia): For our travelers that come to Virginia, that see tape across the entrance to the rest stop, its a sign that Virginia is closed for business. It's exactly the opposite signal that I need to send to people across the country.

HOCHBERG: Former Governor Tim Kaine hoped to save about $9 million a year closing about half of Virginia's rest areas. The state now plans to cut money instead from road maintenance, and also will seek private donations to fund the facilities.

John Townsend, of the AAA Motor Club, applauded the decision. He says drivers do, in fact, stop more often in places where rest areas are available. But even as Virginia reopens its rest areas, New York's governor this weekend proposed closing some there. Maine, Colorado and Vermont also have shut some down to save money.

Adam Hochberg, NPR News.

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