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Alternatives to the public funding and operation of Colorado's rest areas.
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  • Abstract:
    Due to budget challenges, Colorado is looking for alternative funding sources for the operation and maintenance of its interstate safety rest areas (SRAs). Federal Code 23 U.S.C. § 111 prohibits commercial “establishments for serving motor vehicle users on any highway which has been, or is hereafter, designated as a highway . . . on the Interstate System”… “unless the establishment is owned by a state and existed in its location prior to January 1, 1960.” Based on this law, the majority of SRAs in the U.S. have been developed to provide motorists with access to restrooms, picnic tables, and vending machines, but no other commercial services. In FY 2012, the cost of operating and maintaining twenty-seven rest areas in Colorado was just above $3.5 million. In addition, planned and emergency projects in 2012 cost CDOT an additional $251,233 for a total cost of approximately $3.75 million in 2012. Although CDOT’s cost of operating rest areas is lower than some states, the maintenance budget has not grown fast enough to finance their operation and maintenance. The closure of five SRAs in 2012 has been estimated to save the department $300,000 annually. CDOT also closed two SRAs in 2009 for financial and other reasons.
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