Truck Stops Fight Amendment in Highway Bill

Truck stops and convenience stores are opposed to Amendment 217 in the transportation bill. If it passes, then the amendment would allow states to privatize interstate rest stops. The bill could cause devastating consequences for small business owners and trucking companies.

Amendment 217 was intended to create jobs. However, it will negatively impact convenience stores, truck stops and gas stations. In fact, it is considered one of the biggest risks that small businesses have ever faced. The bill will even hurt truck driving jobs.

At this time, almost 97,000 small businesses are within a quarter mile of the Interstate Highway System. Together, these businesses employ nearly two million people. If the bill passes, then many of these exit-based businesses will be forced to close. Even if they don’t close, the businesses will still be at a considerable disadvantage.

The Partnership to Save Highway Communities is advising members of Congress to oppose the amendment. Since the bill has the capability to jeopardize thousands of businesses, the partnership wants to see Amendment 217 dropped. Otherwise, it could also hurt the trucking industry.

Amendment 217 is sponsored by Steven LaTourette and Dennis Kucinich. They want to overturn the 50-year-old law that prohibits commercializing interstate rest areas. If the bill is passed, then states will be allowed to use rest areas for non-highway uses. According to the Huffington Post, advertisers will be permitted access to rest areas. They will be allowed to use these areas to sell tourism-related products. Not only that, but lottery machines will also be installed.

The Virginia Tech Transportation Institute conducted a study on commercial rest areas. During the study, they found that commercializing rest areas has negative consequences. In fact, it caused a 46 percent reduction in sales at interstate-serving gas stations. There was a 44 percent decrease in business at interstate restaurants. Along with that, there was also a 35 percent reduction in sales at truck stops.

Besides that, statistics from LaTourette’s and Kucinich’s home state of Ohio do not work in their favor. Commercialization is permitted along the Ohio Turnpike. In this area, there are 109 businesses that operate along 239 miles. However, commercialization is prohibited on Interstate 75. As a result, there are 1,036 businesses that operate along 212 miles. The statistics show that trucking needs are better met on Interstate 75.

Trucking companies seem to be better off when commercialization is prohibited. If Amendment 217 is passed, then many businesses may be forced to close. Therefore, truck driving jobs will be better off without this provision.

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