ODOT closes two rest areas to make room for new interchange

| 10/16/2009

While OOIDA senior member William “Lewie” Pugh of Freeport, OH, said he isn’t opposed to a new interchange project in his home state, he is concerned that two rest areas and the vital parking they provide truckers have been closed.

The northbound and southbound Interstate 77 rest areas were closed recently and will be razed to make way for an interchange at Dover. The $11.2 million project is intended to relieve congestion at the existing I-77 interchanges at Route 39 and routes 21 and 250 at Strasburg, according to an Ohio Department of Transportation press release.

Pugh said he agrees that the interchange project is needed to keep trucks from having to route through residential areas on routes 21 and 250. However, he believes ODOT rushed ahead with the project and didn’t address the need for truck parking.

Reopening the shuttered weigh stations at Bolivar, OH, a few miles from where the rest areas were closed, is one option Pugh proposes. Instead, those scales, which were closed nearly two years ago, were barricaded against parking.

“I just think they went about this all backwards,” Pugh told Land Line recently. “They could have reopened these scales first for truck parking; then they could have closed down the rest areas to make room for the interchange. This way truckers and the motoring public would have an option to park.”

He said the recently closed rest areas were always full, and the truck stops nearby were always packed. The next closest rest areas are nearly 100 miles away.

Pugh even called the office of his state lawmaker, Rep. Allan R. Sayre, D-96th District, to express concern about the rest area closures.

“I just said that while I don’t use those rest areas because I live not far from there, I do think they are important,” Pugh said. “I said that if they are going to close them, they need to provide alternative parking. I explained that this could affect me and my family who are traveling through there if either a car or truck driver dozes off and hits somebody because they didn’t have a place to pull off and rest.”

– By Clarissa Kell-Holland, staff writer