In July 2010, Governor McDonnell directed the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) to work in partnership with other state agencies to identify and implement long-term strategies to generate new revenues through Virginia’s rest areas. On March 16, VDOT issued a request for proposals for the new Sponsorship, Advertising, and Vending Enhancement (SAVE) program, which will enhance visitors’ experiences while maximizing the revenue generating assets of the rest areas.
Speaking about the new program, Governor McDonnell said, “In these fiscally challenging times, we have to look for innovative new solutions for maintaining and operating the Commonwealth’s rest area and welcome center facilities. These facilities serve a critical role in providing a safe place for travelers to rest and providing information to tourists, businesses, and commuters on the many attractions and services the Commonwealth has to offer. By partnering with the private sector, we will save taxpayer dollars, and keep our rest areas and welcome centers open. Our administration is committed to making state government smaller and smarter, and the SAVE program is part of that overall effort.”
The SAVE program is one of the first of its kind among state transportation agencies. The program will enable private-sector firms to establish paid sponsorships and advertising at rest areas and welcome centers and manage vending at these locations. The goal of the program is to solicit innovative proposals that expand these services to offer additional vending and traveler information, while improving travelers’ experiences and generating new revenues to defray the costs of operating the facilities.
“The SAVE program is one of several steps we are taking to address the costs of maintaining and operating these critical facilities,” said Secretary of Transportation Sean T. Connaughton. “Last fall VDOT issued new maintenance contracts for the facilities and the department continues to work with the public and private sectors to develop other innovative alternatives to the current operating structure.”
Last April, Governor McDonnell re-opened the last of the Commonwealth’s closed rest area facilities. These facilities serve an average of more than 90,000 travelers each day and provide convenient, safe places to rest for an estimated 33 million visitors each year.