The Arkansas Highway Commission plans to close 18 rest areas in a move to save the state $1.4 million annually in maintenance. The closings evolve from a study that began in 1997 that included a survey on public safety and the cost of highway maintenance for rest area buildings.
"Give us a break. Nineteen will still be open," says Dan Flowers, highway and transportation director. "Some of these closings have been brought on by the truckers, themselves. We have had a lot of complaints about the way truckers conduct themselves at the rest stops. We are only closing the ones that don't have tourism departments because tourist centers are operated by the Department of Parks and Tourism. We will probably use the ones off the freeways for inspection purposes."
Twelve sites to be closed are on interstates; six are on non-interstate roads. The following tourism sites will stay open: Corning TIC on U.S. 67; Red River TIC on U.S. 71; Junction City TIC on U.S. 167; Siloam Springs TIC on U.S. 412; Helena TIC on U.S. 49 and Lake Village TIC on U.S. 65/82. The state plans to demolish the rest area buildings at six other stops and convert them to truck parking only. The conversion will add 250 spaces. These off-interstate areas include: Bardstown on I-55, Hilton on I-NB, Morrillton on I-40 WB, and I-40 EB, Gurdon on I-30 WB, and I-30 EB.
- Donna Carlson