The owners of highway truck stops in Iowa are urging the governor to steer clear of “playing favorites” and striking deals that would place state-owned Interstate rest areas next to or inside a truck stop or convenience store.
“Truck Stops of Iowa strongly discourages the state from playing favorites by getting involved in any public-private partnership in the future where the state might co-locate rest areas next to a private business,” says Bob Rafferty, a lobbyist for the “Truck Stops of Iowa” group. “While sometimes that gives the appearance of being less expensive, it would actually discourage the significant private investment that is currently taking place in the state.”
The Iowa DOT already is offering private companies the chance to become “sponsors” of three dozen state-owned rest areas, giving naming rights to the highway pit stops. Rafferty argues taking the next step and giving a private business that prime real estate of a rest area exit along the Interstate would be an economic mistake.
“Truck stops and interstate businesses are a growing part of our economy,” Rafferty says. “In fact, we have had 14 new stops developed over just the last two years. The ability to encourage Interstate travelers to spend money here in Iowa has resulted in over 15,000 jobs at our interstate businesses.”
A DOT study has suggested there’s not enough parking space for truckers who need overnight rest periods as they drive, but Rafferty says the private sector is responding.
“Truck stops have added over 700 parking spots over this past two years alone here in Iowa,” Rafferty says. “The state would have to build over 25 new rest areas to equal that added truck parking capacity that the private sector has added during that time.”
Truckers complain it’s more difficult to maneuver through street traffic into a truck stop parking area, whereas rest area parking facilities are available by simply steering to the right off the interstate.