How much parking makes an oasis? Rule doesn’t say

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The Federal Highway Administration published its final notice on the Interstate Oasis Program without specifying the number of truck parking spaces necessary to qualify. Instead, states will determine the number of necessary spaces based on the rest-area guidelines of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials.

The program will direct travelers to “interstate oases” within three miles of an exit. Such oases must have restrooms, drinking water, round-the-clock staffing, food, fuel and oil, as well as free well-lighted parking.

States can designate private facilities as oases in areas where publicly owned rest areas do not offer truck parking, and two or more adjacent businesses can qualify as a single oasis. In recent years, states have had to close some publicly funded rest areas because of funding shortages.

The National Association of Truck Stop Owners strongly endorsed the program. “When state officials choose to close a rest area, this program offers them a virtually no-cost approach for continuing to meet the needs of the highway traveler,” says Lisa Mullings, NATSO president.

On its website, the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association criticized the program, saying it promotes private facilities at the expense of public ones.