Why old-fashioned highway rest stops are disappearing

Excerpt from USA Today via Pew/Stateline:

In Connecticut, a battle is raging over the state’s proposal to shut down all seven interstate rest areas.

The Legislature eliminated funding to operate, staff and maintain them about two years ago, and the transportation department has been shifting funding ever since to keep them open, said department spokesman Kevin Nursick.

The areas used to be staffed 24/7. But about six months ago, officials cut back, and the buildings at each stop, which have bathrooms, are now open only seven hours during the day. Portable toilets remain available outside.

That, too, may change. The department is proposing to close the buildings, remove the portable toilets and only keep the parking. Twelve positions for rest area attendants would be cut and the state would save $1.1 million over two years, Nursick said.

“We’ve been doing this on our own dime, scraping and picking up the pennies on the floor to keep the rest areas open,” he said. “There’s no more funding left to scrounge.”

Instead of the rest areas, motorists will be able to use nearly two dozen renovated state-owned service plazas operated by the private sector — what Nursick calls “rest areas on steroids” — that are staffed 24/7 and offer food, gasoline and other amenities.

But some, especially in the trucking industry, aren’t happy.

“We believe the rest areas should stay open and be fully staffed, for safety purposes,” said Joseph Sculley, president of the Motor Transport Association of Connecticut, which represents trucking companies. “The drivers are mandated by federal law to take breaks and there’s already a shortage of safe places where they can do that. This would make that situation even worse.”

See the full article online here.