Mar 24, 2011 at 08:09 PM
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Virginia Is For Sponsors

In 2009, the Virginia Department of Transportation closed 19 of the state’s 42 rest stops, saving nearly half a million dollars per stop. They've been re-opened now, but Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell is still looking for ways to defray the operating costs of them. He's hatched a plan to sign corporate sponsors that will pay for the opportunity to be showcased at the State's safety rest areas and welcome centers. On March 16, Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) issued a request for proposals for the new Sponsorship, Advertising, and Vending Enhancement (SAVE) program, which aims to enhance visitors' experiences while maximizing the revenue generating assets of the 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," Governor McDonnell said. "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 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.

"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."

Virginia's rest area facilities serve an average of more than 90,000 travelers each day, an estimated 33 million visitors each year. Here's the RFP that McDonnell put out to brands.

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