Kansas, Iowa to Close Some Rest Areas

Several states, including Kansas and Iowa, are considering closing rest areas due to concerns over both costs and resources.  

Kansas has already closed two rest areas near Junction City, Kan., which the state said will save about $200,000 per year and is looking to close two more near Russell, Kan. Officials are concerned with water use at those locations. The two rest areas currently use 1.6 million gallons of water each year. KDOT said the closures will result in 38 fewer truck parking spaces. KDOT is accepting comments from the public before making its final decision. 

State officials in Iowa are planning to gradually shut down some of the state's interstate highway rest areas as a money-saving move, saying drivers should instead take bathroom breaks at truckstops, convenience stores and fast-food outlets. Paul Trombino, director of the Iowa Department of Transportation, said there is "no question" that there will be fewer rest areas in the future, noting that scores of businesses serving motorists have popped up along Iowa’s interstate highway system since most rest areas were originally built in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

The 40 rest areas cost the state about $6.1 million annually to operate. To help fund remaining rest areas, Iowa's DOT is seeking sponsors for the locations. The Iowa Department of Transportation said sponsors have been signed up for eight out of the state's 37 rest areas. Sponsors are entitled to a sign with their name on it on the interstate approaching the rest stop as well as a marker inside the building.

Interstate-based businesses are concerned the next step is privatization, and the owners of highway truckstops in the state are urging the governor to steer clear of "playing favorites" and striking deals that would place state-owned Interstate rest areas next to or inside a truckstop or convenience store. Business owners have formed the group Truck Stops of Iowa, which is telling lawmakers that giving a private business the prime real estate of a rest area exit along the Interstate would be an economic mistake.

“Truck Stops of Iowa strongly discourages the state from playing favorites by getting involved in any public-private partnership in the future where the state might co-locate rest areas next to a private business,” says Bob Rafferty, a lobbyist for the group. 

Mindy Long's photo

Mindy Long

Before launching a full-time freelance career, Long edited NATSO's Stop Watch magazine. Prior to that Long worked as a staff reporter for Transport Topics, a weekly trade newspaper, covering freight transportation, fuel and environmental issues. In addition to covering the transportation sector, Long has written, reported and edited for a variety of media outlets. She was the Washington correspondent for WCAX-TV (CBS) in Burlington, Vt., a criminal court reporter in Chicago and a freelance copy editor for Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine in Washington D.C. Long hold a master’s degree from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism in Evanston, Ill., and a bachelor’s degree in Communications from Westminster College in Salt Lake City.More
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