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BOLLING CALLS ON VIRGINIA DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION TO KEEP REST STOPS OPEN

Below is a press release from Bill Bolling concerning the rest areas in the Commonwealth. Thanks to our Lieutenant Governor for looking out for the safety of citizens. This is just one example of why Bill Bolling will win reelection.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

June 20, 2009

BOLLING CALLS ON VIRGINIA DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION TO KEEP REST STOPS OPEN

-Citing highway safety, tourism and jobs benefits, Bolling encourages VDOT to reprioritize budgeting and find cost saving to keep rest stops open-

-Bolling: “Closing rest stops is not a financial necessity or in the best interest of Virginia”-

Richmond – Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling today called on the Virginia Department of Transportation to reconsider the proposed closure of eighteen Virginia rest stops and one Welcome Center. The rest stops are scheduled to be shut down on Tuesday, June 21.

In a letter to Secretary of Transportation Pierce Homer, Bolling encouraged VDOT to find savings and reprioritizations in VDOT’s $3.4B budget to find the $8.6M needed to keep the rest stops open in order to maintain the highest level of highway safety and convenience to motorists, support Virginia’s tourism, hospitality and trucking industries and save over 200 Virginia jobs.

“I certainly understand that these are challenging economic times for VDOT and other state agencies,” said Bolling. “However, I am concerned that the closure of these rest stops will eliminate safe, convenient opportunities for motorists to rest; make our highways more dangerous; damage Virginia’s tourism and hospitality industry; put more than 200 Virginians out of work; and increase congestion on secondary roads and at gas stations and restaurants near highways.”

According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Board, driver fatigue results in 100,000 accidents and 1,500 deaths a year in the United States. Studies show truck-driver fatigue could be a factor in up to 40 percent of truck crashes and night-time truck crashes increase when the distance between rest areas increases.

In addition to increasing highway safety, rest stops are key economic assets for Virginia. More than 200 people who maintain the rest stops will lose their jobs if the facilities close. Likewise, the tourism and hospitality industries will lose significant revenues from vending machines and the tourist-attraction brochure program if rest stops close.

“Clearly, rest stops are assets to Virginia’s transportation system, not simply services, and they should be prioritized as such in our budgeting,” said Bolling.

Bolling cited a June proposal by members of the Commonwealth Transportation Board (CTB) to reprioritize $9M of a $120M increase in the FY2010 paving budget to keep the rest areas open. The proposal failed when Secretary Homer voted against the plan breaking a 6-6 tie at the CTB meeting on June 18, 2009.

“I support using $9M of the increased paving money to keep the rest stops open for another year,” said Bolling. “This will allow more time for government leaders and industry stakeholders to find a permanent solution to keep the rest stops open.”

“I understand the financial pressures that VDOT is trying to relieve, but this is not the right way to bring their budget into balance. Clearly closing the rest stops is not a financial necessity or in the best interest of Virginia,” said Bolling.

Full text of the letter to Secretary Homer is below.

###

July 20, 2009

The Honorable Pierce Homer

Secretary of Transportation

Patrick Henry Building, 3rd Floor

1111 East Broad Street

Richmond, VA 23219

Dear Secretary Homer:

Over the past several weeks, I have received a great deal of feedback from citizens who are concerned about the proposed closure of eighteen rest stops on July 21, 2009, and one Welcome Center in September. I am writing to urge you to reconsider these proposed closures and keep these rest stops open.

I certainly understand that these are challenging economic times for VDOT and other state agencies. However, I am concerned that the closure of these rest stops eliminate safe, convenient opportunities for motorists to rest; make our highways more dangerous; damage Virginia’s tourism and hospitality industry; put more than 200 Virginians out of work; and increase congestion on secondary roads and at gas stations and restaurants near highways.

According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Board, driver fatigue results in 100,000 accidents and 1,500 deaths a year in the United States. Studies show that truck-driver fatigue could be a factor in up to 40 percent of truck crashes, and night-time truck crashes increase when the distance between rest areas increases. The lack of convenient rest areas will increase drowsy driving, force more drivers to dangerously rest on roadsides, and jeopardize the safety of all motorists.

Rest stops are also important economic resources for Virginia. In addition to eliminating more than 200 day-to-day rest stop maintenance jobs, closing these facilities will remove vital income and promotion sources for the tourism and hospitality industries, which are crucial to economic development in Virginia.

Clearly, rest stops are assets to Virginia’s transportation system, not simply services, and they should be prioritized as such in our budgeting.

My understanding is that the proposed closure of these rest stops will save VDOT $8.6M. That is a very small savings when compared to VDOT’s overall budget of $3.4B. I would encourage you to look for savings and reprioritizations in other areas of your budget.

For example, my understanding is that VDOT’s FY2010 maintenance and operations budget increased spending on paving by $120M. At the June meeting of the CTB, several members recommended reprioritizing $9M of this increase to keep the rest stops open for another year to allow more time for government and industry stakeholders to find a permanent solution. While the proposal failed on a 7-6 vote, this is clear evidence that the resources exist to keep the rest stops open.

These rest stops will ultimately be reopened, unless you plan to keep them closed permanently, a move I would strongly oppose. If we close them now, only to reopen them in a few months, much of the savings we might achieve from the closure will be consumed by the costs associated with their reopening.

Once again, I understand the financial pressures that VDOT is trying to relieve, but this is not the right way to bring your budget into balance. Clearly, closing the rest stops is neither a financial necessity nor in the best interest of Virginia.

I sincerely hope that you will reconsider the decision to close these rest stops and keep them open so they can continue to serve the need of motorists on Virginia’s highways.

Very Truly Yours,

WILLIAM T. BOLLING

Lieutenant Governor

Commonwealth of Virginia

About Tom White

Tom is a US Navy Veteran, owns an Insurance Agency and is currently an IT Manager for a Virginia Distributor. He has been published in American Thinker, currently writes for the Richmond Examiner as well as Virginia Right! Blog.Tom lives in Hanover County, Va and is involved in politics at every level and is a Recovering Republican who has finally had enough of the War on Conservatives in progress with the Leadership of the GOP on a National Level.

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Nothing is more conservative than a republican wanting to get their majority back. And nothing is more liberal than a republican WITH a majority.

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