Rest areas reopen, safety & tourism boost expected

By Gene Petriello - bio | email

DINWIDDIE, VA (WWBT) - Eight different rest areas closed in June of last year are reopening today, in a move to add safety and tourism to the state.

The closed signs that lined this part of Interstate 85 are now gone. It's been a long time coming for many drivers, passing by one of the 19 rest areas closed in the middle of the busy travel summer last year.

"I've said this idea of reopening rest stops is a very important thing for people with large families or people with small bladders," exclaims Gov. Bob McDonnell.

With a snip of some big scissors, Gov. McDonnell officially started the activity up again at rest stop.

That's a relief for the millions of drivers who hit Virginia's roadways every year, including Jim Glanden. "I certainly appreciate it! I can't vote for him but I'm glad they are here!"

Judging by the activity at the Dinwiddie site, you would never know this stop had been closed.

Making good on a campaign promise, Governor McDonnell reversed the budget decision his predecessor came up with. "For a small price, this is good news that people will have safe traveling on the highways in Virginia."

But to do this, is going to cost the state some money and of course, the state is in a tough budget situation.

While the exact cost to keep these sites open is not known right now, the Governor hopes to new ideas will save millions state wide, at all the rest stops.

"Non-violent prison inmate labor to do some of policing up here. I've talked to several companies myself that are interested in an adopt a rest stop sign that can donate. Those are ideas that are good we know they will work," says Gov. McDonnell.

Also with this opening, tourism may get a boost as well. "Closure of the rest areas is really a symbol to the traveler you know we're not open for business, don't stop here," says Alisa Bailey with the Virginia Tourism Corporation.

But now people like Jim can make a pit stop here, as Bailey and other tourism leaders hope Jim, along with others, will add to the already $19 billion tourism industry here in Virginia.

Seven more rest areas are set to reopen on April 15, including two along Interstate 64 in Goochland.

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