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How food trucks at commuter lots could help with security

Food trucks in commuter lots in Northern Virginia is more than an idea -- it's a bill with overwhelming support.(WTOP/Kathy Stewart)

WASHINGTON — Food trucks in commuter lots in Northern Virginia: it sounds like a pretty good idea. Imagine commuters grabbing a quick bite in the morning, or dinner after returning from a day of work.

But it’s more than just an idea — it’s a bill that already has overwhelmingly passed in the Virginia Senate. The bill breezed through the Senate by a vote of 38 to 2 last Tuesday, and on Friday it moved on to the House of Delegates.

“[Senate Bill 515] allows the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) to set up food trucks in our commuter lots in Northern Virginia,” says Virginia State Senator Jeremy McPike.

Under the bill, since VDOT owns the commuter lots, food truck vendors would apply to VDOT for a business permit and pay a fee.

“The fees would go to both maintenance and security cameras at the lots,” McPike says.

He says he came up with idea for the bill after hearing about commuter lots in Prince William County repeatedly being targeted by thieves who would steal the wheels off cars in the lots.

If the bill does becomes law, McPike says it could be a while before you see any food trucks at the lots.

“It wouldn’t be implemented until likely early fall at the earliest,” he says.

McPike says VDOT will be setting up the vendor food truck program at the lots.

“I anticipate VDOT will reach out to the food truck industry as well as assessing the lots and figuring both times of day [breakfast and dinner] and sending out, sort of a request for a proposal structure,” he says.

The senator says the Horner Road commuter lot in Prince William County is a likely choice for the food trucks. That commuter lot is one of the largest in the state, and he says it would benefit from having security cameras.

He adds that there are other lots growing throughout the area — mainly in Dumfries and Manassas. The food truck program could also include future commuter lots that would be part of the Interstate 66 project.

“I’m really pleased by the support,” McPike says.

“I’ve heard from the community on this one, as well as the food truck industry.  They’re really excited to have new opportunity to market and grow their small business.”

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