July 7, 2010 10:00 AM, EDT

Virginia Eyes Plans for Rest-Area Savings

Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) is seeking ideas on reducing costs at the state’s 41 rest areas and welcome centers, 19 of which were closed last summer, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported Wednesday.

McDonnell reopened the closed rest stops earlier this year, fulfilling a campaign promise. (Click here for previous story.)

The annual costs of running the reopened centers, which serve about 30 million people a year, comes to about $9 million, the Times-Dispatch reported.

McDonnell suggested reducing contracting costs when existing maintenance and operations contracts expire in December, the Times-Dispatch said, and wants to attract private sponsors by bundling interstate highway signage, interior advertising space and vending.

Another potential plan is to use grants to establish partnerships between the state and tourism organizations along Virginia’s interstates, the paper said.

McDonnell also is waiting for a study by the Virginia Transportation Research Council to identify alternatives to the public funding of the interstate rest areas, which has been approved by the state’s General Assembly, the Times-Dispatch reported.