Decline of oil economy leads to closures of five North Dakota rest areas

By Reed Black, Land Line Now staff reporter | Wednesday, February 24, 2016

In North Dakota, the state DOT has announced it will close five of the state’s 28 highway rest areas this spring because of a nearly $70 million budget shortfall.

DOT spokeswoman Jamie Olson says that the rest areas are in the north-central and north-east part of the state, that none of them are on interstates, and that three of them are only open seasonally from May until September.

Olson says the big downturn in the North Dakota oil economy created the budget shortfall.

“We get a lot of revenue from motor fuel tax and from trucking fees,” Olson said. “Because the oil industry declined there are less trucks in our state, and so it’s creating less revenue for the DOT.”

Olson says the other steps being taken to cut the DOT’s costs are putting a hiring freeze on 20 positions and cutting back on the use of temporary employees.

She says rest areas at Pleasant Lake and Sykeston, which normally operate year round, will close on May 1.

The three seasonal rest areas at Norwich, Finnish and Germantown will simply remain closed.

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