Friday, July 31, 2009

McDonnell to Governor Kaine – We Can Reopen Virginia’s Rest Stops

In a letter to Governor Tim Kaine Bob McDonnell, Republican gubernatorial nominee and former Attorney General of Virginia today proposed solutions for how the Commonwealth can reopen the 18 rest stops recently closed due to budgetary issues. The letter follows:

Governor Kaine,

Over the past three years you and I served together in statewide office. On many matters we were able to find common ground, work across party lines and solve problems for the people of Virginia. Today I write to you as a candidate for governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia regarding a continuing problem that I hear about everywhere I go in our great state: the closing of Virginia’s rest stops. As I travel our highways I continue to be disappointed by the sight of flashing traffic signs that are alerting motorists and tourists: “Rest Stop Closed.” The orange safety cones blocking the exits to Virginia’s rest stops further convey the unfortunate image of a state that is closed for business. With this in mind I once again respectfully request that simple actions be taken now to immediately reopen these rest stops, to the great benefit of public safety, as well as all travelers, tourists and truckers.

I have continued to engage in conversations with Virginia business leaders regarding the possibility of an innovative public-private partnership that would allow for an “Adopt a Rest Stop” program, modeled on our successful “Adopt a Highway” initiative. Virginia corporations and businesses will work with the state to help keep these facilities open through voluntary cooperation. I am convinced this can be implemented and members of the Virginia Business Council have told me they stand ready to act now as good corporate citizens to help get this initiative implemented.

Another idea worth exploring is the use of non-violent offenders, individuals currently sentenced to community service or eligible for work release programs, to perform maintenance and landscaping at the rest stops. Many local sheriffs and officials with the Department of Corrections already have well organized work programs that can be adopted to help maintain the rest stops. These individuals already work on highway clean up crews, and on the grounds of our State Capitol. Utilizing their services would provide yet another means by which we can move towards the reopening of our rest stops without incurring new costs.

I also urge you to request that the Commonwealth Transportation Board review the current funding structures in place in order to identify and allocate the resources necessary for reopening our rest stops. The amount needed for operation has been placed at $9 million. I believe that such services as are necessary for a limited reopening could be accomplished for less, if we look for innovative and new ways of budgeting. Further, I am certain that in a state budget of nearly $80 billion over the biennium we can find $9 million to turn the lights back on at our rest stops.

I know that budgetary times are difficult and you have had to make many tough decisions this year in order to balance the budget. Similarly, everyday Virginia families, businesses and local governments also make hard choices, and set priorities. I believe that it should be a priority of our state government to encourage tourism, ensure public safety, and make a positive impression on visitors to the Commonwealth. Closed and shuttered rest stops do the opposite. I respectfully ask you to consider these suggestions for how we can reopen Virginia’s rest stops immediately. I would be delighted to work with you on any of these ideas in order to help get the job done.

With great respect, I remain,

 Bob McDonnell

Posted By Valerie Garner

Categories: Election 2009, Politics, State Politics

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