Question about highway rest stop laws

Private businesses have not been allowed to be built on interstate rest stops since 1960. Here in maine, they are closing a rest stop on I-95 to replace one of the restaurants with a different restaurant . How can this be legal?

You have restaurants in your interstate rest stops?

In Louisiana, they serve coffee and, of course, vending machines for snacks. But, a restaurant that serves real, hot food?

Interstates with which I am familiar (NY,PA,OH,IN,IL) are toll roads and thus somewhat hard to leave, find a place, and re-enter. Gas and food are by agreement, whoever gives the road authority the biggest cut. Entirely possible for one company to lose its agreement, and another installed. Some places make a distinction between a rest stop - parking, rest rooms and coin machines, and an oasis - extensive facilities. I’ve driven for miles, looking for the gas station mentioned on a sign and not to be seen - where I’m looking, anyway.

All of the rest stops on I-9 between PA to FL are jam-packed with real restaurants. Are you sure it’s illegal to build them?

In my 12 years as a OTR driver, I drove through 40 of the continental 48 states. Some states allow them and some don’t. I guess it’s the difference between a rest stop and a rest area, maybe. The states that do lease space to chains to build/renovate their own restaurants at the rest stops. On contemplation, you’re more likely to see them on tollways/turnpikes than freeways. Captive audiences and all that. Some will have a food court with several chains offering food, besides the c-store and fuel pumps. It’s up to you as to whether a Sbarro’s, Burger King, Philly Cheesesteak, etc. offers real, hot food.

It’s not as it was when I was a child and on our annual trip to visit my mom’s family in Ohio in pre-interstate days via the Pennsylvania Turnpike. There were Howard Johnsons in the rest areas. Those were real restaurants with waitress service at the booths and tables. Now, the best you’ll get is cafeteria style service.

You mean I-95, right?

They are common on the major toll roads in the Northeast, although I believe that these are technically not interstates so the ban doesn’t apply. Isn’t much of the portion of I-95 that runs through Maine actually the Maine Turnpike (thus, state laws allowing privatization would apply)? However, there are also McD’s and gas stations in CT along stretches of I-95 that I believe are classified purely as interstate.

In Maine, the correct term is “service plaza”.

"Some places, such as California, have laws that explicitly prohibit private retailers from occupying rest stops. A federal statute passed by Congress also prohibits states from allowing private businesses to occupy rest areas along Interstate highways. The relevant clause of 23 U.S.C. § 111 states:

The State will not permit automotive service stations or other commercial establishments for serving motor vehicle users to be constructed or located on the rights-of-way of the Interstate System.

The original reason for this clause was to protect innumerable small towns whose survival depended upon providing roadside services; because of it, private truck stops and travel plazas have blossomed into a $171 billion industry in the United States. The clause was immediately followed by an exception for facilities constructed prior to January 1, 1960, many of which continue to exist, as explained further below."

"Some turnpikes, such as Florida’s Turnpike, were never integrated into the Interstate system and never became subject to the federal ban on private businesses. On turnpikes that did become Interstates, all privatized rest areas in operation prior to January 1, 1960 were allowed to continue operating. Such facilities are often called service areas by the public and in road atlases, but each state varies:

Delaware, Maryland, Kansas, and Oklahoma – service area

Connecticut, Florida, Maine, Massachusetts, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia – service plaza

New Jersey – service area or service plaza

Illinois – oasis

Indiana and New York – travel plaza"

from here:

The one in Maine might be on the Turnpike, which is a private body, and would have their own rules, not necessarily subject to federal rules and regs… Most toll roads have a service oasis, so as not to hve to pay the toll in two consecutive installments in order to food up.

I remember one in northeast Texas, where the local farmer had a chip wagon backed up against the fence, and dispensed goodies through the wires.

I went to Maine with my family a few times and we stopped rest stops in ME to get some to eat there was a Boston Market and Popeye’s in one of the stop and a lot of other restaurants

Both the NY Thruway (I-90/I-87) and the PA Turnpike (I-76) have rest plazas (or whatever you call them) with private restaurants and gas stations. You would have to get off, pay the toll, get back on with a new toll ticket otherwise. Free interstates tend not to have such things, although they usually have vending machines. And VT has free coffee (although you are invited to drop a buck in the box).

ah, yes, sorry. Hazards of phone typing. Or perhaps some kind of psychological block. I-95. My most hated road.

Interesting: When the UK government began building motorways, they leased Service Areas to private enterprise. They are expensive and most are between not very good and downright poor. They all blame the government for taking such a big cut of their profits. Most are chains and they are placed at around 30 mile intervals. Many also offer basic accommodation.

A notable exception to the rule is one in the North of the country in Cumbria which is privately owned (not part of a chain) and sources all its food locally. The same family have now opened one in the Midlands which also gets glowing reviews.

That said, if you are ever driving in the UK, there are hundreds of pubs beside the old roads, still serving good food at reasonable prices.

I drove I-40 the length of Oklahoma at least twice a year in much of the 1970s, and I remember more than one MacDonald’s accessible only from the interstate, between the east-and west-bound lanes. McDonald’s for all their faults surely doesn’t build illegal sites, do they?

The law didn’t change until several years after the Interstate system first started to be built out, and existing service areas are grandfathered in.

That was the original plan here (at least in some states) but roadside business owners screamed bloody murder and successfully lobbied to block it. From their point of view, it was bad enough that the government was diverting all their business onto new roads, let alone competing by opening restaurants and gas stations on its own property.

Eateries and gas stations eventually popped up like mushrooms wherever there was an exit, so it wasn’t really necessary anyways.

I’ve driven I-95 dozens of times between NY and FL and have not seen one real restaurant on a rest stop.

In fact, I have only seen restaurants on toll road service areas such as the NYS Thruway and the Florida Turnpike, although that is just my personal experience.

I-95 in Maine is a toll road built by the Maine Turnpike Authority and completed in 1947, I believe. This is prior to the Eisenhower Interstate Act which passed in 1956.

Therefore not a true Interstate highway owned by the State, but rather owned by the Turnpike Authority. They can do as they like in the Service Plaza.

There are McDonald’s in rest areas in Newton and Lexington MA on I-95.

We have them all along the freeways in California too. We call them cities. Rest stops are parking lots with an occasional restroom. View areas are rest stops overlooking pretty areas.

Actually come to think of it there may one ones in NJ as well. I usually bypass NJ though.