GEICO is now sponsoring all the rest areas in Virginia.
You might see a famous gecko the next time you stop at an interstate rest area or welcome center.
Each year, Virginia shells out $21 million to run all 43 rest areas in the state. Thursday, VDOT announced GEICO is picking up part of that tab. Virginia will receive $2 million as part of this agreement.
Wick Hunt makes a pit stop at the New Kent rest area every two weeks as he heads to his cottage.
"This is a convenient stop from Charlottesville on the way to Matthews County," Hunt said.
He remembers the days when the rest areas were closed back in 2009 because of the budget.
"It's not pleasant as I recall," he said. "You start looking for alternatives and the alternatives are not there very often."
Governor Bob McDonnell made good on a campaign promise and quickly reopened the rest areas shortly after he took over.
"One of the very first things he says, 'you have to reopen those rest stops,'" said Transportation Secretary Sean Connaughton.
Connaughton said sponsorships like this will help the Commonwealth to keep the rest areas open for good.
Part of GEICO's sponsorship is also rebranding the rest areas as "safe phone zones". It's a place where you can make phone calls, send text messages, or write emails here, instead of on the road.
Drivers we spoke to say corporate sponsorships seem to appear everywhere, but they're okay with it if it means they still have a place to take a pit stop.
"I'm happy with that so if we can keep this thing open, I'm happy," Hunt said.
Virginia is now the first state in the country to find a sponsor for a rest stop.
The transportation secretary said roads and bridges are now also available for sponsors.
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