- Governor McDonnell at ribbon cutting to open rest areas
DINWIDDIE — Governor Bob McDonnell joined representatives from the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) and the Virginia Tourism Corporation today to announce the official reopening of eight more rest areas in various parts of the Commonwealth. At a ribbon cutting ceremony at the Interstate 85 (South) Dinwiddie Rest Area, Governor McDonnell recognized the importance of reopening the closed rest areas to tourism and economic development in the state. The rest areas were closed last year. On January 20th, four days after taking office, McDonnell announced he would reopen every closed rest stop by April 15th.
“These rest areas are not just a respite for weary motorists who travel our highways,” McDonnell said. “These facilities serve as a gateway to provide tourists, businesses and commuters with important information about the amenities and attractions that make the Commonwealth one of the best states in the nation in which to live and do business. By reopening these shuttered facilities, we are supporting additional investments in our future as well as improving safety on our interstate highways.”
The facilities officially reopened today include:
I-85 Dinwiddie north and south rest areas at mile marker 55
I-81 Mount Sidney north and south rest areas at mile marker 232
I-66 Manassas east rest area and I-66 Manassas west welcome center at mile marker 48
I-95 Dale City north and south rest areas at mile marker 155
In January, the Commonwealth Transportation Board responded to Governor McDonnell’s call to reopen 19 closed rest areas by reversing its June 2009 decision to reduce the number of VDOT rest areas and welcome centers from 42 to 23. Eighteen facilities closed in July 2009 and the final facility – the Interstate 66 West Manassas Welcome Center – closed in September in an effort to save $9 million annually as the agency grapples with a $4.6 billion revenue shortfall over the next six years.
Four rest areas reopened in mid-February. The remaining seven facilities are slated to reopen by April 15, restoring all of Virginia’s rest areas to full operations.
In preparation for rest area reopenings, VDOT crews restored utilities, restocked traveler information centers, cleaned the facilities, installed vending machines and restored rest area grounds. VDOT is considering all available options for providing these provisions going forward in an effort to keep costs low. Gates blocking motorists’ entry to these eight rest areas were opened over the last week while VDOT crews completed final electrical, plumbing and facility testing. All work is now complete and the rest areas are officially open for business.
VDOT will use $3 million from its emergency maintenance reserve fund to operate facilities through the remainder of the fiscal year which ends June 30. Long-term funding for the rest areas will be identified as VDOT revises its maintenance budget this spring.
Posted By Valerie Garner
Categories: Politics, State Politics
Tags: governor, McDonnell, transportation