NEWS- Stalled: Hanger wants prettier potties<B>
Travel around Virginia, and you're bound to find people with stories about rest areas on Interstates 64, 81 or 95.
"I travel a lot, and wherever I go, people tell me how embarrassed they are when they compare our rest areas to those in neighboring states. It's something that visitors notice, too," says Sen. Emmett Hanger (R-Mt. Solon).
Hanger aims to do something about the problem. The Republican lieutenant governor hopeful introduced a state-budget amendment earlier this year to get rest-area improvements under way in time to clean up the state's image before the 2007 shindigs planned to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Jamestown's founding.
Hanger was the first to raise the issue of rest-area improvements. And eventually legislators decided to earmark $20 million for the effort, substantially below the $800 million administration officials are projecting will be needed to fund necessary improvements statewide.
Hanger learned shortly before the General Assembly adjourned late last month that his fellow lawmakers had decided to leave I-81 out of the mix for the projected $20 million in rest-area improvements in the 2005-2006 fiscal year.
"I indicated that I thought it was unacceptable that we would leave 81 out to focus all the efforts on 64 and 95," Hanger says. "I pitched a fit about it, and I'm still fired up."
Hanger says he intends to raise the issue with Governor Mark Warner before the governor completes his review of legislation endorsed by the 2005 Assembly.
"It sounds like this is getting tied into the whole Halliburton improvement package for 81, with the idea that we can take care of I-81 rest area improvements when we get engaged in that wider project," Hanger says. "But we shouldn't wait on that. Who knows when things might get moving on 81 improvements, and in the meantime, what do we have?"
Ivy Rest Stop on I-64
FILE PHOTO BY JEN FARIELLO
I-64 just outside Richmond
FILE PHOTO BY HAWES SPENCER