AMES, Iowa — The Iowa Department of Transportation released a long-range plan for the state’s rest area system earlier this week.
Under the plan, 30 of the 38 existing full-service rest areas will remain open; the remaining eight will be closed at “the end of their usable life,” according to IDOT.
Twelve of the 30 full-service areas will be upgraded by 2033. Ten smaller parking-only rest areas are also slated for closure in the future; upgrades and expansion of truck parking is planned for the remaining six parking-only sites. In addition, IDOT is planning to add 247 truck parking spaces throughout the system.
Under the plan, all 10 parking only rest area site closures and seven of the eight full-service closures will occur before 2028, when the facilities reach the end of their useful life.
“We are committed to serving as good stewards for the state by continuing to invest taxpayer dollars to develop and maintain the statewide transportation system that best meets user needs,” read an Aug. 12 statement from IDOT. “The decision to close an existing rest area facility is carefully considered and is informed by the Code of Federal Regulation (23 CFR 752).”
The process of determining the long-range plan for the state’s rest area system began in 2012 when, according to IDOT, the time came to re-evaluate the needs of rest areas in enhancing a modern transportation system balanced with the need for investment in these facilities. The criticality of each rest area was systematically evaluated, and aging and least critical sites were recommended for closure, allowing available funding to be used for upgrades at more critical and strategically located rest areas sites.
As of 2012, several of the state’s rest areas had reached an age of 50 years or older and required considerable expense to replace. The process has moved through several phases that included a study and documentation of customer needs and satisfaction with existing rest areas, two public input periods and an initial implementation strategy for the rest area system.
“Following the release of the initial implementation strategy, we heard significant feedback, especially regarding the need for increased truck parking along the transportation system,” IDOT’s statement noted. “This allowed us to re-evaluate the implementation strategy and coordinate our plans with a freight truck parking study which assessed the current system’s truck parking needs. This study documented the need to add additional truck parking which is reflected as part of the final rest area plan.”