ALEXANDRIA, Va. -- NATSO, the trade association for the travel-plaza and truckstop industry, is voicing its opposition to a Trump administration budget proposal that would "liberalize tolling policy and allow private investment in rest areas," threatening "the businesses that serve interstate highway travelers, such as travel plazas, convenience stores and restaurants."
In a statement, NATSO President and CEO Lisa Mullings said, "Oftentimes, these businesses are the economic backbone of off-highway communities; these proposals therefore not only harm private companies but also thousands of local tax bases throughout the country."
Nearly 80,000 gas stations, truck-service businesses and restaurants operate within a quarter mile of the interstate highway system, employing 2 million Americans and contributing billions in state and local taxes, Mullings wrote.
" 'Public-private partnership' sounds innovative; proponents talk about attracting 'new money' for construction," she said. "What we need to understand is that public-private partnerships in the context of surface transportation are nothing more than toll roads. It would be great if we had a magic pot of money to pay for construction and maintenance of our roads. We don't. Under this proposal, the same people who have been paying fuel taxes to build and maintain these roads will have to pay tolls, too."
Mullings' statement continued, "NATSO has long supported increased infrastructure investments, and the Trump Administration's plans will likely include many concepts and policies that the travel plaza industry would consider positive. However, taken as a whole, the transportation policies outlined in the Trump Administration budget proposal would do more harm than good and represent a missed opportunity."
The truckstop and travel-plaza community stands ready to work with the administration to resolve the nation’s infrastructure funding needs, she said, concluding, "We are hopeful that President Trump and his staff will engage with us on policy discussions in the coming months.”
Alexandria, Va.-based NATSO is the trade association of America’s travel-plaza and truckstop industry. Founded in 1960, NATSO represents the industry on legislative and regulatory matters; serves as the official source of information on the diverse travel-plaza and truckstop industry; provides education to its members; conducts an annual convention and trade show; and supports efforts to generally improve the business climate in which its members operate.