Arizona DOT cites budget shortfall in closing 13 rest areas

| 10/12/2009

Truckers passing through the state of Arizona will have fewer places to rest as the Arizona Department of Transportation announces plans to shutter 13 of its 18 rest areas beginning Oct. 19.

Closing the rest areas will save ADOT approximately $2.5 million annually, according to Doug Nintzel, media relations director for ADOT.

“It’s a tough situation because our state’s budget crisis has really caught up with ADOT,” Nintzel told Land Line Now recently. “We’ve really had to find a way at the agency to solve a $100 million shortfall and we’re at a stage where more of the cuts are going to be noticeable, and that includes these rest areas.”

In the past two fiscal years, the Legislature has transferred more than $533 million from ADOT’s budget to solve the state’s overall budget shortfall.

“ADOT, as part of state government, is actually having to give over money that should be going to transportation,” Nintzel said.

Nintzel said he isn’t sure when the rest areas will reopen. He said the department will continue to re-evaluate the closures toward the end of this fiscal year in June 2010.

“We will be looking at it to see where does our budget stand and is there any chance of opening any of the facilities,” Nintzel said. “I know that our situation is one where we are not going to be completely optimistic about that. ... We have concerns about the budget situation getting even worse.”

– By Clarissa Kell-Holland, staff writer