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Arizona Gov. Ducey Wants To Revamp Rest Stops Using Private Sector

Arizona rest stops
(Photo courtesy of Arizona Department of Transportation)
Map of Arizona rest stops.

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey wants to bring in the private sector to help modernize the state’s rest stops. He said more modern rest stops, operated by the private sector, would bring in millions in tax revenue and help the state with needed repairs.

Ducey made that argument in a letter to federal Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao.

Current federal law prevents Arizona from having rest areas with a lot of buying and selling, so the governor’s asked Chao to give Arizona special permission to try out a public-private partnership. He also asked Chao to work with Congress to change the provision that bans large scale commercial activity at rest stops in many Western states.

“Currently, we aren’t partnering with the private sector to really provide the best services for travelers and for communities,” said Patrick Ptak, spokesman for the governor. “And by giving us that authority, we can take a look at that and see where improvements can be made.”

At least one group has said this kind of arrangement would actually hurt small businesses.

David Fialkov, Vice President of Government Relations at the National Association of Truck Stop Operators, said this would be a bad deal for the businesses just off the highway. He said these businesses rely on drivers stopping for food or gas, and that could fall off if there were large, commercial rest stops right on the highway.

“What a private-public partnership is, in this context, is the state identifying a private business, one private business, that they determine to be the winner,” Fialkov said.

Ptak said it’s too early to say what form these public-private deals would take, or how many there would be.

Bret Jaspers was a senior field correspondent at KJZZ from 2017 to 2020.