NH's rest areas could get boost by having a sponsor

Union Leader State House Bureau | April 02. 2013 8:54PM

CONCORD - Selling sponsorships or naming rights to the state's 16 highway rest areas is being explored by lawmakers as a way to improve the areas in a bill that has already passed the House.

House Bill 635 would establish a committee to explore soliciting requests for sponsorship or naming rights to the rest areas, some of which are in disrepair, said House Minority Leader Gene Chandler, R-Bartlett. The state recently closed three rest areas, and some of the money from the sponsorships or naming rights could be used to open the closed rest areas, he noted.

New Hampshire has more rest areas than surrounding states. State officials say the areas help promote tourism and provide visitors with information about the Granite State.

The Department of Resources and Economic Development runs the rest areas, but the House budget to be voted on today would transfer authority and the budget back to the Department of Transportation, although DRED would continue to staff the facilities.

Almost all the rest areas are along the interstate highways in the state.

Michael Pillsbury, deputy commissioner of transportation, said nearly all of the rest areas were built with federal money so any sponsorship or naming rights would have to meet federal guidelines.

He said the federal transportation agency recently signaled its willingness to allow such sponsorship or naming rights arrangements but has not issued guidelines.

The committee did not make a recommendation on the bill Tuesday and does not meet again until next week.
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