April 27, 2010 12:00 PM, EDT

N.J. to Close Rest Stops on Two Interstates

Move Will Not Affect Turnpike, Garden State

New Jersey plans to close bathrooms at two more highway rest stops due to budget cutbacks this year, a move that has renewed calls to allow states to lease rest areas to private truck stop operators.

The rest stops in question are on Interstate 80 at the Pennsylvania state line and on Interstate 295 where it meets the Delaware Memorial Bridge.

Truck drivers will still be allowed to park in both places but, “What’s the point,” without bathrooms, said Gail Toth, executive director of the New Jersey Motor Truck Association.

Leases would be a “win-win for everyone,” Toth said. “Unless you’re on a toll road there’s no longer going to be any facilities,” she added.

The New Jersey Turnpike and the Garden State Parkway are supported by tolls, and full service rest areas on both roads are leased to private operators.

The federal government, however, does not allow private operators to run rest stops on the interstate highway system.

Toth said truckers in New Jersey are pressing the state to ask the federal government for an exemption given that truckers have no options in the heavily-urbanized Northeastern states.

Local towns do not want trucks getting off the highways and land is too expensive in those areas for private truck stop operators to buy.