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Federal Aid Policy Guide - Non-regulatory Supplement

Transmittal 6: Vending Machines in Interstate Rest Areas and Abandonment of Interstate Rest Areas

October 5, 1992, Transmittal 6

NS 23 CFR 752

Non-regulatory Supplement

This Supplement Includes Information on Vending Machines In Interstate Rest Areas And Abandonment Of Interstate Rest Areas

  1. VENDING MACHINES IN SAFETY REST AREAS CONSTRUCTED OR LOCATED ON THE INTERSTATE HIGHWAY SYSTEM (23 CFR 752). Section 111 of the Surface Transportation Assistance Act (STAA) of 1982 grants the States the authority to permit the placement of vending machines in safety rest areas constructed or located on rights-of-way of the National System of Interstate and Defense Highways.

    1. The State highway agency need not operate the vending machines directly. It may enter into contracts with vendors for the installation, operation, and maintenance of such vending machines. All States, including those which are participating in the 1978 vending machine demonstration project, must give priority to vending machines operated through the State licensing agency designated pursuant to the Randolph-Sheppard Act (RSA). All contracts shall be in writing and shall ensure retention by the State highway agency of full responsibility for and control over all activities within the rest area.

    2. The only application the RSA has to Section 111 is to establish the licensing agency in each State that is to be given priority. With the exception of rest areas on Federal lands, none of the RSA requirements apply to vending machines in Interstate rest areas.

    3. The RSA, however, does apply to vending facilities on Federal property. Although most rest areas are on State owned property, the possibility exists that in certain instances a rest area could be on Federalproperty. In any instance where the State has acquired less than fee title for a section of Interstate highway located on Federal land, there is a possibility that a rest area located within that section could be considered as being on Federal property. If a State should plan to place vending machines on such property, the FHWA will have to decide whether United States retains sufficient interest in the land for it to be classed as "Federal property." If a State contemplates placing vending machines in such rest areas, the request with appropriate documentation on the land acquisition is to be submitted to Washington Headquarters for determining if the land involved is Federal property for the purposes of RSA application.

    4. Where a rest area is on Federal property both the RSA and Section 111 apply. Further, the more restrictive provisions of both laws must be applied. For example, since Section 111 does not contain any requirements regarding the disposition of income from vending machines but the RSA does, the RSA applies. Thus, the requirements of 20 U.S.C. 107d-3(c) that such income be applied for the benefit of blind licensees must be met. As another example, the RSA allows a blind person to operate a stand; however, Section 111 expressly limits operations to vending machines. Because Section 111 is more restrictive it controls and only machines are allowed in rest areas.

    5. Documentation demonstrating a positive initiative to involve the designated Randolph-Sheppard Act State agency will be required before the State highway agency proposes alternate organizations or corporations to operate the vending machines. However, if the designated Randolph-Sheppard Act agency waives its rights in writing, the State highway agency is free to negotiate agreements described in paragraph 1a of this supplement with any organization or corporation.

    6. The ineligibility of Federal assistance for installation, operation, and maintenance of the vending machines includes any modification in existing rest area facilities or the construction of new facilities. This exclusion from Federal-aid participation would also extend to power supplies, water sources and any other ancillary items necessary for the installation, operation, and maintenance of the vending machines.

    7. The nondiscrimination provisions of 23 CFR 752.8(c)6apply to the installation, operation, and maintenance of vending machines.

  2. DEFINITION (23 CFR 752). A vending machine is a coin or currency operated machine capable of automatically dispensing an article or product.

    1. By limiting installations to vending machines, it is expressly intended to preclude a vendor from establishing a stand or shop for the purpose of selling the article or product and also to exclude any form of personal salesmanship.

    2. Items which may be dispensed are limited to such food, drink, and other articles as the State highway agency determines to be appropriate and desirable. Title 23 U.S.C. 111 continues to prohibit automotive service stations on the rights-of-way of the Interstate System. Based on this prohibition, the dispensing, by any means, of petroleum products or motor vehicle replacement parts is banned.


    1. A State may abandon an Interstate rest area or rest areas provided there is a well documented evaluation demonstrating that the rest areas to remain are adequate in both number and size to satisfy the need of the traveling public. Ability to provide for the needs of the public without any overcrowding along with a showing that the distances between the remaining rest areas are reasonable would be essential in this report. In that regard, a spacing of an hour's driving time or less is considered to be reasonable unless an extenuating circumstance can be established. This spacing is consistent with the recommendation contained in Implementation Package FHWA-IP-81-1 "Safety Rest Area Planning, Location, and Design." A 504 Regulation (49 CFR, Part 27) submission which has been reviewed and approved by Washington Headquarters could constitute the needed documentation provided the submission clearly established those rest areas to be abandoned. If the submission did not include the restareas to be abandoned a separate evaluation is needed.

    2. The abandonment of a rest area or rest areas near State lines could adversely affect rest areas in adjoining States. Because of the need for coordination at State lines, any proposed abandonment not part of a 504 Regulation approval, should be reviewed by the appropriate regional office or offices.

    3. Because the utilization of rest areas for alternative activities is an unusual circumstance which has the potential for creating policy questions, such requests should be forwarded for Headquarter's review and approval.

    4. The 504 Regulation is specific regarding the need to make provisions for the handicapped at such locations as rest areas. Recognizing the possibility that in some instances the driver or a rider in a truck may have need for these facilities, exceptions which would permit rest areas for trucks without handicapped provisions should not be granted.

    5. The question of whether or not parking areas in rest areas which lack other facilities should continue to be available for use is an operational consideration and thus a State decision. The decision should be made on an individual basis depending on the circumstances. Retention could be a safety benefit. On the other hand if activities in these sites are or become nuisances, closure may be the only acceptable solution.

    6. The land of an abandoned rest area need not be made to conform with adjacent areas. However, the area should be dressed up, seeded, and maintained to the extent necessary to be compatible with the adjacent areas. Further, because of the requirements of OMB Circular A-102, Attachment N, Section 3, Real Property, division office and State personnel should jointly review every abandonment on a case-by-case basis. If it is agreed there is a reasonable expectation that the site will be used for highway purposes at some time in the future, no further action is required. If, however, it is determined the site will never be used for suchpurposes disposal of the excess property to comply with A-102 will be necessary.

    7. A State may be permitted to retain the land on which an abandoned rest area is situated. However, any contemplated use other than as a rest area is to be submitted for Washington Headquarter's review and approval. Further, any use of an abandoned rest area should not be of a permanent nature so that it could revert to rest area usage if a future need should develop. Any proposed use other than as a rest area should consider safety and access control.

    8. The maintaining or closing of a rest area without facilities is an operational decision to be made by the State with FHWA concurrence. The abandoned, but not disposal of, rest areas should be properly maintained and any activities occurring at the closed rest area, whether lawfully or by trespassers, should not be detrimental to the operation of the Interstate System.

    9. The cost of abandonment is not eligible for Federal-aid funding.

    10. Federal funding credit is required when the State disposes of any improvement for value. Credit is not required for improvements which are used for other transportation purposes. Credit is also not required when it is more economical to abandon or waste the improvements. Any disposal of the right-of-way should be at fair market value with an appropriate credit to Federal funds. If an abandoned site was to subsequently revert to a rest area, the extent of Federal fund eligibility in restoration costs would have to be considered on a case-by-case basis. Among the factors to be considered would be need, life of facility when abandoned, impact of interim use on restoration costs, and any conditions or agreements associated with abandonment.

Updated: 9/5/2014
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