Ohio officials want to know whether the state's 101 rest stops could be leased to a private operator and how much a potential deal might be worth.
A legislative panel on Monday approved the state's use of $2.85 million in federal research money to pay a consultant to evaluate privatizing the rest areas along interstates and state roadways.
Under the contract with Austin, Texas-based KPMG Corporate Finance LLC, consultants will also explore the idea of leasing the Ohio Turnpike. The 241-mile roadway is funded through tolls and the sale of gas and food at rest stops.
Gov. John Kasich has said leasing rest areas might be a way to address a gap in the transportation budget.
Ohio pays between $30 million and $50 million annually to maintain the facilities.