For more than half a century, old-fashioned, no-frills highway rest stops have welcomed motorists looking for a break from the road, a bathroom or a picnic table where they can eat lunch.
But in some states, these roadside areas are disappearing.
Cash-strapped transportation agencies are shuttering the old ones to save money, or because they don’t attract enough traffic or are in such bad shape that renovating them is too costly. Or, the stops have been overtaken by tourist information centers, service plazas that take in revenue from gasoline and food sales, or commercial strips off interstate exits.
Florida, Michigan, Ohio and South Dakota are among the states that have closed traditional rest stops in the last two years. And a battle is brewing in Connecticut over a proposal to shut down all seven stops on its interstate highways to save money.
But advocates of maintaining traditional rest areas say even if motorists are offered flashier options for pit stops, the ones that sprung up as highways did are still needed for driver safety and convenience. Some view them as a tranquil, environmentally friendly alternative to crowded service plazas and commercial strips.
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