Alabama closes three rest areas, claiming 'underuse'

| Wednesday, April 14, 2004

Alabama is closing three rest areas because of underuse, an official with the state’s Department of Transportation said April 12.

John Lorentson, a state maintenance engineer who is in charge of Alabama’s rest areas, told Land Line the three areas were:

  • On U.S. 231 in Elmore County, just north of Montgomery, between that city and Wetumpka;
  • On U.S. 31 in Baldwin County, near Bay Minette; and
  • On U.S. 43 in Washington County, near Wagarville.

Lorentson said the principal reason the state was closing the rest stop is “limited usage vs. cost to operate.”

Each of the closed rest areas had cost Alabama roughly $300,000 a year to operate, The Birmingham News reported. However, fewer than 2 percent of cars on the highways stopped at those areas.

All three rest areas provided truck parking, but Lorentson said the parking was not used by many trucks.

“The only one that may have been a truck route at all would be the Wagarville,” he said. “That’s in west Alabama; very little traffic over there. I would say there would be minimal impact on the trucking industry, if any.”

The state will not shift the funding to other areas that have heavier truck traffic, however. Lorentson said the state was searching for cost savings, and no additional rest areas are planned.

While the state has ceased operations at the three stops, it is possible that one will remain open to an extent. The News reported that the rest area in Elmore County had been turned over to the city of Wetumpka about two weeks ago.

--by Mark H. Reddig, associate editor

Mark H. Reddig can be reached at mark_reddig@landlinemag.com.

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