More advertisements sprouting at Virginia rest areas

Expanded sponsorships, advertising and vending generate $2 million annually for the state

POSTED: 08:02 PM EDT Jul 17, 2013    UPDATED: 08:19 PM EDT Jul 17, 2013 
Ironto Rest Area Advertising
MONTGOMERY CO., Va. -

You've seen the GEICO Gecko at Virginia's rest areas. Now, expect to find more advertising when you take a break from your interstate travel.

The Ironto Safety Rest Area on Interstate 81 is a good example.  Two large signs now advertise the Sweet Things Ice Cream Shoppe in Lexington and the Natural Bridge Zoo.

The state has expanded sponsorships, advertising and vending to help defray the $21 million cost of operating the rest areas.  The company that won the contract pays the state $2 million a year.

More than 900 companies now participate in the on-site advertising.  That number includes GEICO, the car insurance company that sponsors "safe phone zones" at Virginia's rest areas and welcome centers.