Seminole County leaders are pushing to close 2 rest stops along Interstate 4 that are both almost 50 years old.
On Tuesday, the Board of Commissioners asked county staff to finalize a proposal to present to the Florida Department of Transportation. The goal of the proposal will be to close 2 stops near State Road 434 in Longwood.
One big problem, however, is that these rest stops are always full by the end of the night. According to Fox 35 Orlando, these 2 trucks stops are known for bringing in parades of trucks every night. “Many nights several big rigs end up parked along the shoulder of the busy interstate because the rest area itself is beyond capacity.”
A truck driver at the stop, Rassiel Antunez, said “If we don’t have a place, it is impossible to sleep. If we don’t make it, there will be more accidents. The Orlando stop is one of the only options in the Orlando area. We need more places like this.”
Residents of the area regularly complain about the smell of diesel fuel and the sound of idling trucks into all hours of the night.
Although the truck stops were built in 1969, they were updated and renovated in the 1980s. The rest stops have also been selected for an expansion as part of the I-4 Ultimate project; however, the Board of Commissioners said that the plan for expansion will not be enough to keep these rest stops open.
Commissioner John Horan stated that there is simply not enough room to expand in order to accommodate the amount of truck parking needed.
Horan explains, “The county is advocating for more truck stops in the Orlando area so truckers could get the facilities they actually need as well as staging space to make their deliveries in Orange and Seminole Counties.”
Last year a similar proposal to this was introduced to FDOT but a representative said that in order to close the rest stops there would need to be a suitable alternative in order to get approval.
There are studies going on across Florida that are intended to create better support for truck drivers and increase the availability of resources while on the road. The potential closure of 2 busy rest stops will surely disrupt the amount of parking and driver resources in the area.
Fox 35 reported, “Truckers at the stop Tuesday said they would be fine with the rest area closing if they had other options, but several said that they’d need a lot more options at this point.”
In light of the ever approaching ELD mandate, for truck drivers that frequent these 2 rest stops, closures would cause drivers to not only have to adjust their routes but risk hours of service violations if an alternative is not introduced.