Governor Ducey To Feds: Time To Improve Highway Rest Stops

News Release

November 3, 2017

PHOENIX – Clear the open road! Governor Ducey is requesting that the federal government let Arizona to do what other states already do – allow public-private partnership for highway rest stops.

In a letter to U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, Governor Ducey asked that Arizona be exempted from an archaic federal law (23 USC 111) that prohibits commercial activity on the state’s rest areas.

Specifically, the governor is requesting Arizona be granted federal permission to launch a pilot program, and that Congress repeal this nonsensical prohibition.

Under that law, only states with existing commercial activities before the law was passed – way back in the 1950s – can allow for public-private partnerships when it comes to rest stops. As a result, Arizona, and many other western states, are blocked from those agreements.

What does this mean? Potentially, a lot.

A partnership in Connecticut will net the state at least $100 million by the time it expires. While Arizona pays for the maintenance of aging rest stops, other states are utilizing them as a revenue generator – and providing better services along the way.

"Modernizing current law fits well with your agency’s efforts to encourage states to better leverage Federal highway funding by unleashing the power and potential of the private sector, thereby creating new revenue streams for better funded highway construction and maintenance projects," Governor Ducey said in the letter. "Allowing states to explore commercial opportunities within interstate rest areas is vital to that goal."

Arizona relies on highways for transportation and as an economic engine. Allowing companies the financial incentive to maintain the individual stops would not only remove the burden off of the state but also modernize the currently underused locations to better serve taxpayers and the general public.

"Arizona residents and visitors have long benefited from the positive relationship developed between our state’s transportation department and the Federal Highway Administration.  With your help, I believe we can move forward to a new era to better serve our citizens.  Any support you can provide to assist in these efforts would be greatly appreciated."


Current Facilities:

  • The state is required to operate, maintain and rehabilitate 28 rest area sites to meet standards for such things as storm water drainage or the American Disabilities Act. 
  • Many of these rest areas were built in the 1960’s and 1970’s and are now 40 + years old. 
  • Because of the need to comply with federal regulations on commercial truck drivers, there is a growing demand for additional large truck parking spaces. 

Cost to Maintain Facilities:

  • Historically, the annual cost to maintain ADOT’s rest areas is approximately $3.9 million.
  • The total cost to rehabilitate a rest area is approximately $3.5 to $4 million

States with (P3) Rest Area Maintenance Agreement:

  • Connecticut has a P3 to build, maintain, upgrade and operate 23 commercialized rest areas, 13 of which are on Interstates. 
    • 35 year deal with a vendor that pays them a minimum guarantee per year.  By the year 2044 when the contract expires, the state will have been paid a minimum of $104 million.
    • Requires the vendor to upkeep and modernize the rest are while sharing a percentage of sales over a certain amount.  
    • Connecticut gets a growing amount of revenue from fuel sales starting at 1 cent per gallon in the first year, and growing to $2.25 cents per gallon by year 35, in 2044. 
  • Delaware operates a single welcome center along I-95 that sells fuel and has restaurants/shops.
    • Built at no cost to the State in 2010 and has guaranteed return of $1.6 million per year over a 35 year period. 
  • The Ohio Turnpike Authority operates 14 Service Plazas along the Ohio Turnpike. 
  • Maryland has 2 commercialized rest areas on I-95 with fast food, restaurant, gas and mini-market choices.