Last week the Long Range Capital Planning and Utilization Committee unanimously approved a plan to seek bids from companies interested in running a rest-stop sponsorship program. We are on our way to having commercialized rest areas. Good.
Highway rest areas are no longer quaint little spots with a rustic-looking hut, some maps and a few restrooms.
They have morphed into little islands of creature comforts and commercial opportunities. Travelers want to get coffee and warm food, and they want familiar brands. Failing to provide those things would turn tourists away.
But providing those comforts costs money. New Hampshire has closed three rest stops for lack of funds to operate them. Sponsorships might generate enough funds to keep all rest stops open without devoting more tax money to them.
The state already has contracted with the Common Man restaurants to run the state's signature Hooksett rest stops off I-93. Selling naming rights to others is the next logical step.
Some people oppose "commercializing" rest stops. We wonder if they oppose the "Adopt-A-Highway" program, too. Through it, businesses pay to advertise directly on the highways, and the funds pay for highway cleanup. Why not do the same for rest stops?