AASHTO Board Adopts Policies on Rest Areas, Border Crossings, & Other Subjects

AASHTO Journal, 21 October 2011

DETROIT — The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials Board of Directors this week adopted a policyurging Congress to include in the next surface transportation authorization some flexibility for states to commercialize interstate rest areas. The policy, proposed during the AASHTO annual meeting in Detroit, Michigan, was jointly sponsored by the Mid American Association of State Transportation Officials and the Southeast Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials.Currently, federal law does not allow states to privatize interstate rest areas. The policy recognizes that rest areas are “an integral part of the nation’s interstate system.” But it also notes that many state DOTs around the country have been forced to close rest areas in recent years as a way to reduce costs.

“DOTs are finding it more difficult to adequately maintain rest areas with limited resources that could otherwise be used to maintain highways and bridges,” the policy resolution states. The policy also called for AASHTO to organize a coordinated effort by states that want to pursue flexibility to commercialize their state’s rest areas.

AASHTO Board Supports for Land Border Crossing Projects

AASHTO’s Board of Directors also this week voted to support a policy that recognizes the importance of land border improvements to all states, as well as the economic benefits of moving ahead on critically needed border crossing projects around the country. The policy, which was proposed by Kentucky Transportation Cabinet Secretary Mike Hancock and New York State Transportation Commission Joan McDonald, used the New International Trade Crossing between Detroit, Michigan, and Windsor, Ontario as an example of the kinds of projects that benefit cross-border trade and the nation’s economy.

The policy states that projects that streamline and reduce delay at land border crossings reduce costs and create American jobs. According to the Michigan Department of Transportation, by 2030, delays in the Detroit-Windsor corridor will result in direct costs to Canada and the United States of more than $17.8 billion a year and result in over 70,000 jobs lost. Meanwhile, border traffic congestion and delays cost the U.S. and Mexican economies an estimated $7.2 billion and 62,000 jobs in 2007, according to the San Diego Association of Governments.

Canada and Mexico are the first and third largest trading partners with the United States with 57% of the goods moved between the United States and Canada, and 66% of the goods moved between the U.S. and Mexico carried by truck, according to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics.

Other policies approved by the AASHTO Board of Directors include:

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