• Jul 23, 2009
Motorists traveling through Virginia take note: It's time to get used to crossing your legs just a wee bit tighter on long trips through the Old Dominion as the Virginia Department of Transportation has closed nearly half of all its interstate rest areas. The cited reason? Budgetary shortfalls... what else?

According to VDOT, the closure of these 18 rest areas will save $9 million per year and will be joined by delayed construction projects and a slew of laid off workers. Virginia politicians have apparently been arguing the issue for months and a suitable compromise has yet to be reached.

In addition to the obvious loss of restroom choices, critics argue that the shuttering of rest stops may have a negative impact on the safety of travelers as weary drivers and tired truckers will have far fewer places to stop for some shuteye or to get a quick coffee. With more and more states facing severe budget shortfalls, could your state be next? Click past the break for a press release and a full list of closed VA rest areas. Thanks for the tip, Robin!

[Source: Roanoke.com]




PRESS RELEASE:

REST AREA CLOSURES TO BEGIN TONIGHT

Map and list of rest areas and welcome centers

RICHMOND - The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) will close 18 rest areas around the commonwealth overnight tonight as crews implement planned cost-savings reductions.

In June, the Commonwealth Transportation Board (CTB) finalized plans to scale-back the number of rest areas VDOT maintains and operates from 42 to 23 as the agency grapples with a $2.6 billion revenue shortfall.

Eighteen of those are slated to close in the early morning hours of July 21. The final rest area to close, the Interstate 66 West Manassas Welcome Center will remain open through mid-September.

VDOT crews will use orange barrels and cones to block the entrance ramps of rest areas overnight tonight. Those who are already in rest areas will be allowed to remain until they finish their rest.

Once rest areas are clear of motorists, crews will block the exit ramps.

VDOT will also change interstate signs to indicate that the rest areas are closed and will adjust signs that guide motorists to the next available facility.

Electronic message signs will be used to give motorists advanced warning of the rest areas that are closed.

Crews will then begin disconnecting utilities, removing equipment, supplies and fixtures that can be reused in the 23 facilities that will remain open, and commence mothballing the closed facilities.

It will take several weeks to permanently close the buildings and secure them for their long-term closure. Crews will install large metal gates across entrance and exit ramps as each facility is fully decommissioned.

The 18 rest areas slated to close include:

* I-81 North Rural Retreat
* I-81 South Smyth
* I-81 North Radford
* I-81 South Troutville
* I-81 North Mt. Sidney
* I-81 South Mt. Sidney
* I-81 South New Market
* I-95 North Ladysmith
* I-95 South Ladysmith
* I-95 North Dale City (cars)
* I-95 South Dale City (cars)
* I-66 East Manassas
* I-64 East Goochland
* I-64 West Goochland
* I-85 North Dinwiddie
* I-85 South Dinwiddie
* I-85 North Alberta
* I-85 South Alberta

VDOT will operate the I-66 West Manassas Welcome Center through the summer travel season, since it was the only welcome center impacted by these closures.

VDOT will close the I-66 Welcome Center on Sept. 16, following the busy summer travel season.

Truck Parking Changes

In an effort to mitigate the impacts of these facility closings on trucks, VDOT will implement changes to its rest area truck parking restrictions on July 21.

The agency will remove a number of no parking signs at the remaining 23 rest areas and welcome centers to provide more than 225 legal truck parking spaces.

This will offset the total number of truck parking spaces lost at the closed facilities. VDOT will also remove signs that had restricted vehicles to two-hour parking limits.

Truck drivers will now be able to get their mandated 10-hours of rest in Virginia's rest areas.

New truck parking rules only limit parking for an entire overnight period. This means that trucks arriving in a rest area before sundown must leave the site prior to sunrise the following day. T

hose trucks arriving during the night or early morning hours must leave the site prior to sunrise the following full day.

VDOT Response to Transportation Revenue Shortfall

VDOT recommended in February a series of reductions to address a $2.6 billion revenue shortfall. These include reductions over the next six years of $2 billion to the construction program, $391 million to administrative and support programs), and $348 million in reductions to the maintenance and operations program.

VDOT will also reduce staffing by 1,000 full-time employees and 450 part-time employees as it seeks to reduce costs and address business changes.

The department collected feedback during 11 public meetings in March and early April. It then proposed final recommendations to the Commonwealth Transportation Board (CTB) after considering public input and completing additional analysis.

The CTB finalized these decisions and adopted VDOT's new $3.7 billion budget June 18. This triggered implementation of VDOT's service cuts, including the rest area closures.

A map of the affected rest areas is available at http://www.virginiadot.org/news/resources/Statewide/19_SRAWC_Closures.pdf.

To learn more detail about VDOT's service reductions, visit http://www.virginiadot.org/newsroom/default.asp#blueprint


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 98 Comments
      • 5 Years Ago
      "critics argue that the shuttering of rest stops may have a negative impact on the safety of travelers as weary drivers and tired truckers will have far fewer places to stop for some shuteye or to get a quick coffee"

      That's okay I'm sure they'll find a way to blame the increase in accidents on speeding or cellphone usage, so they can continue the trend of increasing restrictions placed on freedoms, based on phony evidence or pseudo emergencies.
        Dakotasxt80
        • 5 Years Ago
        Well you know if it haddn't taken VDOT 35 years, YES 35 Years to fix the 15 mile strech of road between Newport News and the HRBT, or spent the time tring to find out how to fine drivers $3000.00 for a 1 mile an hour over the limit speeding ticket, maybe there would be more money for things like lights on the interstate, or the dirty rest areas.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Living in the hamptonroads area, and being related to a VDOT employee, this decision is entirely political, the past 10 years, everything used to be done VDOT has been outsourced or contracted to private contractors; the result: fat checks for the politican douchebags in Richmond and little money to fix our roads. So eat it up richmond, hope your ___ happy. Politicans 1 residents 0
        • 5 Years Ago
        Oh yeah...this is one more piece of the big conspiracy puzzle...
        Dan Tenore
        • 5 Years Ago
        Too bad nobody in Richmond has figured out a way to make the rest areas profitable (or at least "break even").

        Install refueling stations and/or convenience stores, restaurants/coffee shops. Offer some services. This isn't rocket science: Connecticut, New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts do this, and it works!
      • 5 Years Ago
      Our Governor in Virginia makes George W. Bush look like a Rhodes Scholar and now Governor Kahne is moon-lighting as the DNC chair. This idiot would rather risk driver safety to save $9 million than to cut spending somewhere else - like reducing the rate of growth of government spending. This guy is a true gift to the public - he gives hope to any moron that one day you can be a Governor. And thanks to the wonderful Federal Government we now have, the offer to turn them into commercial areas (profit centers) was turned down as well.

      sidebar - Va State Police are now noticing trucks on the side of the interstate and on off/on ramps - they will be ticketing these drivers.

      I wonder how many trailer truck accidents with fatalities of families of four in minivans it will take for Kahne to wake up and to cut $9 million in parks and recreation which is less important.
      • 5 Years Ago
      rest stops closed, but radar cops still out there
        • 5 Years Ago
        Of course. THOSE a profit centers, especially in VA.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Oh k they close some of the rest stops..now what are they gonna do about our tunnels?
      • 5 Years Ago
      There are a million ways to cut state budgets Like cars,cell phones,internet,vacations and office parties just to begin with. Those poor truckers are the ones who will suffer the most. If any state workers read this I hope you feel guilty next time you want to use the restroom or just stretch your legs.
      • 5 Years Ago
      In Fredrick and Shenandoah Counties, 3 wrecks yesterday and one this morning. All blocking I81, all with big trucks. Closing rest areas was a real dumb thing.
      • 5 Years Ago
      VA is not alone in this: GA just announced similar plans to start closing the handful of remaining rest stops in that state. GA blamed it on crime rather than budget, stating that they have become a haven for drugs and other vices. So have the city/state parks in GA.

      Anyway, rest stops were conceived when there weren't many options for distance travelers. But nowadays, there are a plethora of 24-hour fast food outlets and truck stops and other options. So there generally isn't as much need for a true rest stop any more. It's usually against the law to actually rest in your car there.

      I think it is bad for tourism: rest stops where a great place to pick up those pamphlets and brochures about the local things to see and do. That publicity was good for the states and good for business.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Really they are going to close all Five of them???? I know that there is only one on I-95 going through the whole state. Guess they will be saving a butt load of money. The Florida turn pike is the best road for service in the East. They charge you to drive on it but there are many good things about being on a road that is Patrolled 24/7 Where are all the trucks going to park? There is not enough parking as it is. They will be alongside the roads causing a hazard to travel. Maybe the expressways should be controlled by a national source, or a private for profit, organization not each state. That way we would have a common provider. The new trucks will have a waste system installed from the factory. And Honey dipping vacuum trucks will be doing underway waste sucking and charging Big Bucks.
        • 5 Years Ago
        I would imagine that the "visitor centers" near state borders would stay open.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Is it now legal to urinate on the side of the road in VA?
        • 5 Years Ago
        I hear they are offering permits...
      • 5 Years Ago
      Closing rest stops is like Michigan that closed a number of state parks, and other "cost saving" things. The one thing they didn't do was to take a pay cut!!!! Our "elected" officials will raise taxes, cut services, and vote themselves a raise!!! Wake up people, you're being bamboozeled!!!
      scharabo
      • 5 Years Ago
      I just don't see this making much of an impact. As noted, most interchanges have restaurants, motels and convenience stores. Truckers have numerous truck stops. From the ones I've been in they have a full-service restaurant, showers and large stores (and provide employment for lot lizards). Some even provide electricity, heat and air, cable TV and Internet connections out in the parking areas.
      Marilyn
      • 5 Years Ago
      Just where did Virginia spend their stimulus money?
      DAllen84
      • 5 Years Ago
      Are you kidding me???? The states were forced to take stimulus money and they are still in debt and still have to close things down???? The solution to much of our woes is to send all the illegals back where they came from and stop milking our school, health care and welfare systems. It is a mindset that is passed on from generation to generation. They know how to play the system to get their health care, education and food for free while the rest of us pay for it. I have watched them go thru the check outs and buy all of the allowed stuff with their food stamps and then buy frivolous luxuries like expensive children's ride-on toys with their cash. Want to know how to solve the illegal problem - just send agents to Wal-Mart and the DMV - in our state they can't speak English, you know D%$# well they are not legal and yet they can stand there and get a Driver's License!?! It is maddening beyond words! We could solve this problem in this country if we really wanted to, BUT the D%$# politicians are afraid that they are going t lose their illegal votes!
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