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COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Ohio transportation officials will continue to seek out ways of making a profit at certain state rest stops despite the U.S. Senate's rejection of rest stop commercialization along federal highways, the Columbus Dispatch reported.
According to the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT), rest areas along non-interstate roads such as Route 23 could still allow businesses such as convenience stores and fast-food restaurants to set up shop.
The U.S Senate amendment, proposed by Sen. Robert Portman (R-Ohio), would have overridden federal law that prohibits the sale of food, fuel and convenience items at interstate rest stops. Despite strong opposition from the c-store and truck stop industry, Ohio still sees the potential for millions of dollars from commercialized rest stops, said ODOT spokesman Steve Faulkner.
Ohio, which faces the possibility of delayed transportation projects, already allows businesses to operate along toll roads such as the Ohio Turnpike. The state spends $50 million annually maintaining 101 highway rest stops, 56 of which are along non-interstate roads. According to ODOT, this cost could be offset by selling commercialization rights and shifting maintenance responsibilities at as many as 25 of the stops.
The state will soon seek proposals from businesses interested in operating at four to six rest stops within its borders.
"We believe there is going to be great demand," Faulkner told the news outlet.