Ohio Department of Transportation has announced that they are seeking public input on the possibility of closing a rest area located on I-77 northbound in Washington County not far from Marietta, Ohio.
Closing Rest Stops
The Ohio DOT is considering shutting down the I-77 rest area because they believe that other nearby rest areas along the I-77 corridor (the WVDOH Wood County rest area and the ODOT Guernsey County rest area) provide sufficient services for drivers. Another reason for the proposed closure is its proximity to multiple gas stations and food establishments, which transportation officials say would then eliminate the need and the cost of maintaining that rest area. Officials said the annual operating costs are $257,674. The rest stop that opened in 1986 is in need of repairs.
More than 60 Rest Areas Closed Since 1992
Since 1992, more than 60 rest areas have been closed in Ohio as a result of private sector development providing similar services, environmental issues relating to antiquated onsite water and sewer systems and facility obsolescence based on current standards and requirements.
Public comments regarding the proposed closure will be accepted from February 1-March 31, 2018. Email comments to [email protected] or call (740) 568-3904.
Commercializing Rest Stops
For the past 58 years with the introduction of the Interstate Highway System in the 1950’s by Congress, states were prohibited from offering commercial services at public rest areas built after 1959.
Congress passed the law based on pressure from business and community leaders who feared traffic would bypass their cities as a result of the new Interstate system.
But the question now is that still the case. Could privatization save rest stops like the one in Ohio or has the day of the rest stop come to a close with so many rest options in cities across america? Or is it still true that commercial rest areas jeopardize private businesses just as they did 60 years ago?