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Posted at 4:19 PM ET, 01/20/2010

McDonnell reopens highway rest stops

By Washington Post editors

Six months after Virginia shutdown many highway rest stops to save money the state’s newly-elected governor delivered on a campaign promise and ordered them reopened.

Gov. Robert McDonnell (R) instructed that 19 rest areas, including four in Northern Virginia, be back in service no later than April 15.

The areas had been closed as the state department of transportation (VDOT) grappled with a projected $2.6 billion revenue shortfall over the next six year. That led to cutbacks in services, maintenance and layoffs of VDOT workers.

The agency estimated that $9 million would be saved by closing the rest stops, reasoning that travelers could use rest rooms in the gas stations and restaurants that proliferate the area around most highway interchanges.

“The decision to reopen these is a victory for drivers, truckers and common sense,” said John B. Townsend II, spokesman for the American Automobile Association. “Now, drivers don’t have to travel for miles and miles just to take a bathroom break in a clean, safe and sanitary facility along the busiest interstates in the state.”

The four Northern Virginia facilities that will reopen are located on I-95 north in Dale City, I-95 south in Dale City, I-66 east in Manassas and I-66 west in Manassas.

The closures became controversial, particularly angering older drivers and those with young children. Police said drivers were endangering themselves and others by stopping on the highway shoulder to relieve themselves.

McDonnell, who made a campaign pledge to reopen them, appeared Wednesday afternoon at a meeting of the 17-member Commonwealth Transportation Board in Richmond to approve a proposal that they be reopened.

-- Ashley Halsey

By Washington Post editors  | January 20, 2010; 4:19 PM ET
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Sounds great but where's the money coming from to reopen these?

Posted by: NoVAredsox | January 20, 2010 4:36 PM | Report abuse

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