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Thursday, February 19, 2009

Is it time for Vermont to Privatize Rest Areas?

The Douglas Administration will permanently close three interstate rest areas that were temporarily closed earlier this month.

The facilities in Highgate and Hartford and the southbound rest area in Sharon will either be torn down or sold. We should emphasize it's the southbound Sharon rest area-- not the northbound which is a memorial to Vietnam Vets.

The Randolph rest area will close later this month but will re-open next year. And in July the state plans to reduce the hours of operation at the state's 17 other rest areas.

This plan is expected to save the state $1.5 million a year."

Here we go with another round of Rest Area roulette. Whenever the budget gets tight the first thing the politicians go to cut are the rest areas. When times get better they are then the first ones to lament the disadvantage we are put at when we don't have rest areas to direct travellers to local attractions. There seems to be no consistentcy on this issue and it appears to transcend party lines. When you think it couldn't get any more bizarre, we spend enough on the Veterans Rest Area to renovate the rest of the existing rest areas.

I would like to put forth the notion that the state has had enough chances to screw this simple task up. We live in a state with a tourism driven economy and we can't seem to all get on the same page to point travellers in the right direction. When you visit other states, it's easy to see how we've missed the boat. I think that we could partner with the private sector or simply put it out to bid and get far better results at a better cost to the businesses and taxpayers of the state. Closing more rest areas simply isn't a good return on our already stretched dollar.
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