State reconsiders plan to privatize rest areas

Jul 26, 2012

The state is temporarily putting the brakes on its plan to privatize rest areas on state routes, after a deadline for potential developers passed with no one showing any interest. 

Eleven developers had asked ODOT about the privatization plans, but when it came time to submit proposals, none of them did. ODOT director Jerry Wray spoke about that with Ohio Public Radio’s Karen Kasler.

JW: Well the first thing we did is put out a request for qualifications, and we had considerable  amount of interest.  but then when we actually opened the requests... or tried to open the requests, we didn't get any. so we're going to go back to the marketplace and ask: what's the problem here, why isn't this a good.. why isn't this of interest.  and see if we can't go again and do a better job.  One of the things I believe might have been of concern is that it was an all or nothing type package.  so if you, even if you just wanted to  engage in the marketplace say in one or two of the rest areas, you had to take them all and maintain them.  So we're going to go back and see what we can do to improve that. And we're also going to look at other areas around the state and continue to pursue this and see we'll how it comes out.  Again the whole idea is to go to the marketplace and see what we can do

KK: And you're still confident you can raise a significant amount of money this way?

JW: We believe we can.  first of all there's a reduction in maintenance that we would gain, and then there's also the revenue that we might bring in.  We don't know until we go to the marketplace and they tell us.

ODOT wants to covert 59 non-interstate rest areas into privately run service plazas, where motorists could buy fuel, food and other things in one stop. The agency, which is dealing with a budget hole of 1.6 billion dollars, was hoping to raise as much as 50 million dollars a year through the privatization of those areas.