Iowa Transportation Commission tweaks rest area policy

By Clarissa Kell-Holland, Land Line staff writer | Thursday, March 15, 2012

The Iowa Transportation Commission approved a revision to its interstate rest area policy at its business meeting on Tuesday, March 13, in Ames.

The Commission unanimously approved the addition of a sentence to the state’s current policy that would allow the Iowa Department of Transportation “to study alternatives” rather than simply replace rest areas that are shut down or torn down because of planned construction.

The state DOT currently maintains 40 full-service rest areas. Four rest areas are scheduled to be replaced over the years 2012-2016, according to the Commission’s five-year program. The rest areas on Interstate 35 near Ankeny at mile marker 94, as well as the rest areas on Interstate 80 near Waukee at mile marker 119, are scheduled to be razed because of interstate interchange projects.

Dena Gray-Fisher told Land Line on Wednesday, March 14, that if an existing rest area is affected, for instance, by construction of a new interchange, the Iowa DOT “will study options to mitigate the impact and present a preferred alternative to the Commission for their consideration.”

“A wide range of options could be considered, including replacement in kind or a single-point interchange, or determining if services could be mitigated in other ways,” she said.

The Iowa DOT is currently developing a new Statewide Rest Area Management Plan that “will reflect traffic changes and development improvements.”

In January, Iowa DOT Director Paul Trombino III, identified a projected savings of $1.5 million annually by exploring opportunities to “provide the services of a rest area through other means and/or partnerships” to help offset costs.

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