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Getting There: Could fast food
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By Scott Shenk
IS IT POSSIBLE that burgers from fast-food joints are harming more than just your heart?
Yes, says a study by researchers at the University of California, Riverside.
Researchers recently told the university publication UCR Today that grease, smoke and other emissions from burger joints pump out more particulate matter (microscopic pollution) than tractor-trailers.
Bill Welch, the principal engineer for the study, told UCR that an "18-wheeler diesel-engine truck would have to drive 143 miles on the freeway to put out the same mass of particles as a single charbroiled hamburger patty."
Looks like one more reason to avoid fast food joints.
This week, instead of a question, we have a suggestion from a reader who has gone to some lengths in trying to convince transportation officials that there is another way to bring in revenue while also adding services along the Interstate 95 corridor in Virginia.
Bert De Vore of Spotsylvania has sent letters to politicians, businessmen and transportation leaders trying to convince them that commercializing rest areas would be a boon to Virginia.
He's seen them in Maryland, Delaware and New Jersey.
Maryland has two such locations--Maryland House and Chesapeake House, both of which are going to be renovated.
Both rest areas, which are in the median of I-95, offer plenty more options than Virginia's rest stops, which have only vending machines.
At Maryland's commercial rest areas you can get eats from such fast-food places as KFC, Pizza Hut and Wendy's. You can also gas up at these stops.
Setups like these seem right up Virginia's alley. Gov. Bob McDonnell has pushed hard for public-private partnerships--i.e., the nearly $1 billion electronically tolled express lanes project on I-95 and the new rest-area vending and sponsorship agreement.
Virginia's rest-area agreement, which includes signage sponsored by Geico, will bring in $2 million annually.
This year, Maryland signed an agreement with a private firm to renovate and operate its two commercial rest areas, and the state says it will make $400 million annually from the setup.
That's a big difference in revenue.
But, there is a catch to De Vore's hope that Virginia will follow in the footsteps of Maryland: federal law.
The feds oversee the interstate system and the U.S. code prohibits commercial establishments along the interstate's right-of-way.