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Potty Politics

Sandhya Somashekhar

And you thought rest stops were just a convenient place to break up a long road trip, use the facilities and grab a Mr. Pibb from the vending machine.

Rest areas have become a hot political issue after VDOT announced that it will be shuttering 18 of the roadside respites, beginning tonight, as a cost-saving measure. The decision has provoked criticism from those who say Virginia's tourism industry will suffer (you know, all those pamphlets). More importantly, they say, it will rob the highways of some of a safe space for a drowsy driver to take a break before getting back on the road.

No fewer than three politicians have sent out alerts to the media today demanding that the rest areas be kept open. Lieutenant Gov. Bill Bolling has suggested using paving money to keep the rest stops operating. Rep. Frank Wolf (R) sent a letter to Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D) "imploring" him to "reverse this terrible decision." Gubernatorial candidate Bob McDonnell went so far as to say that, if elected, he would reopen them within 90 days of assuming office.

"If the rest stops do close tomorrow, and remain dark in the months ahead, that will end when I am elected governor," he said in a statement.

When asked about the issue in a conference call this morning, McDonnell's Democratic opponent Sen. Creigh Deeds one-upped the former attorney general, saying he would reopen the rest areas within 60 days.

By Sandhya Somashekhar  |  July 20, 2009; 2:28 PM ET
Categories:  Bill Bolling , Creigh Deeds , Election 2009 , Frank R. Wolf , Robert F. McDonnell , Sandhya Somashekhar  
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