Many of Arizona's older rest areas cost about $3.9 million each year to maintain. File photo
Gov. Doug Ducey is asking the federal government to grant Arizona permission to initiate a pilot program that would allow the state to use its highway rest stops for public-private partnerships in the hopes of creating more revenue for the state.
In a recent letter to Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, Ducey requested Arizona be exempt from federal law 23 USC 111, which prohibits commercial activity at the state’s rest areas.
The move would require the federal government to exempt Arizona from the law, which was passed in the 1950s and allows only states that had existing commercial activities prior to the law being passed to have public-private partnerships. The law blocks Arizona and other western states from these types of partnership agreements.
"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," Ducey said in the letter. "Allowing states to explore commercial opportunities within interstate rest areas is vital to that goal."
According to the governor’s office, many of the state's 40-plus-year-old rest areas cost about $3.9 million each year to maintain with costs for rehabilitation of the rest stops estimated to be between $3.5 million to $4 million.