The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) is moving forward with a proposal to apply federal standards to existing truckstops and other privately-owned facilities off the Interstate system to qualify them as an “Interstate Oasis.” The agency is seeking comments on its proposal, which was published in the Federal Register February 27, 2006.

The public-private measure is designed to reduce the need for states to maintain revenue-losing rest areas, while also addressing the shortage of parking spaces for trucks.

FHWA wants to establish minimum standards for sites to qualify as an Interstate Oasis, and is particularly interested in whether number of parking spaces should be a criterion. Interstate Oasis sites would have to be easily accessible from the Interstate system, open 24/7, provide fuel, oil food, restrooms and adequate parking for trucks. Drivers should be able to stay for at least 10 hours.

According to FHWA, Utah and Vermont have implemented programs for the designation of off-Interstate facilities and Louisiana is in the process of rolling out such a program.

A provision in the SAFETEA-LU Highway Bill mandated that FHWA develop the Interstate Oasis Program.

The deadline for submission of comments is April 28; they may be filed electronically at http://dms.dot.gov/submit