Allowing businesses to, in effect, adopt highway rest areas in Ohio is an excellent idea. It could save the state as much as $50 million a year.
That is how much the state Department of Transportation may be paying for maintenance, utilities and repairs at Ohio's 101 highway rest areas and welcome centers. At present, the money comes directly out of taxpayers' pockets - and reduces ODOT's resources available for highway and bridge repair and maintenance.
Agency officials are seeking bids from those who want to sponsor rest stops and place advertisements in them. Within a few months, signs featuring advertisements and sponsorship information may be visible at the rest stops.
Many other public facilities, such as convention centers, have benefitted from similar programs. As long as the signage is done in good taste and is not obtrusive, there is nothing wrong with the idea.
To the contrary, it is an excellent idea to stretch scarce state resources. Fifty million dollars a year will pay for a lot of maintenance to make the highways between those rest stops smooth and safe, after all.