RICHMOND -- Gov. Bob McDonnell is requesting proposals for vending machine management at Virginia's 42 rest areas and welcome centers through a new program that seeks to help defray the $20 million annual operating and maintenance costs.
The Sponsorship, Advertising and Vending Enhancement (SAVE) program seeks private companies to manage vending, advertise and sponsor certain amenities at state rest areas and welcome centers. | SEE RFP
A year ago, McDonnell reopened the last of the state's 19 rest areas closed by his predecessor, Gov. Tim Kaine, in 2009 as a cost-cutting measure. At the same time, McDonnell directed the Virginia Department of Transportation to work in partnership with other state agencies to identify long-term strategies to generate new revenues through rest areas.
"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," the governor said. "By partnering with the private sector, we will save taxpayer dollars, and keep our rest areas and welcome centers open."
Virginia has been unable to get federal approval to fully privatize its rest areas. But the SAVE program will "utilize the opportunities that currently exist under federal and state law to acknowledge sponsorships, sell products from vending machines and disseminate information of specific interest to the traveling public," according to the state's formal request for proposals.
The facilities reportedly serve more than 90,000 travelers each day.