DOT plan could benefit Iowa travellers

Travelers along Iowa’s interstate highways may soon see new signage.

The Iowa Department of Transportation is selling sponsorships of the state’s rest areas as a way to raise money.

The DOT officially began soliciting bids for rest area sponsors this month. Bids must be received by Oct. 9.

The minimum bid accepted for sponsorship of a rest area is $7,500 for a three-year contract.

Businesses may sponsor one or more of the state’s 37 interstate rest areas.

In exchange for the money a sponsor gets a business name or logo placed on signs with a blue background. Signs will be posted at a highway entrance to the rest area and inside the facility.

The DOT says the money will help maintain rest areas, modernize outdated facilities and go toward other state highway purposes.

Though not, perhaps, the highest of Iowa’s transportation priorities, rest areas serve an important purpose by providing weary travelers a place to pull off the road instead of continuing to drive tired, which can pose a risk to public safety. Additionally, rest areas often serve as important stops for tourists, who can receive visitors guides and other printed materials highlighting the state’s numerous attractions.

As a cost-cutting measure, many states have chosen to simply close their rest areas. We consider this unwise. Thus, it is encouraging to see the Iowa DOT take steps to keep rest areas not only operational but state-of-the-art.

Indeed, nearly any effort to reduce the burden on the Iowa taxpayer to maintain transportation infrastructure is worth making. We encourage the DOT to continue to seek such opportunities.