Arizona Reopens More Rest Areas
The Arizona Department of Transportation has opened four more rest areas along state highways. Rest areas at Bouse Wash (I-10), Hassayampa (US 60), Haviland (I-40) and McGuireville (I-17) are now open.
This puts the total number of operational rest areas around Arizona at 14. ADOT reopened five rest areas this summer.
Four additional rest areas - Mazatzal (SR 87), Mohawk (I-8), Parks (I-40) and Salt River Canyon (US 60) - will remain closed due to serious repair issues. Those sites continued to be evaluated.
Rest areas were temporarily closed last October as a result of the state's budget crisis and declines in transportation revenues.
"We made a commitment to the public to reactivate rest areas when operating them would not conflict with ADOT's more critical public safety priorities. It's a choice we shouldn't have to make, but it is a reality because of Arizona's economic struggle and an unwillingness by the federal government to provide more local control over funding," said ADOT Director John Halikowski. "We met that commitment, but the challenge has not been conquered. The nature of what the public expects from their transportation system is changing; how we plan and fund transportation infrastructure must also change."
Each year, Arizona spends about $320,000 per rest area for maintenance, electricity and water services. Funding for these facilities comes from the State Highway Fund, which comes from the state fuel tax and vehicle license tax.
Arizona is pushing for reform at the federal level to change how rest areas are funded nationally. The state also wants to join forces with appropriate businesses adjoining highways to designate existing establishments as state-certified rest areas. This would require changes in federal law to allow for alternative funding strategies and the flexibility to use federal highway funds to support rest areas. (See "Arizona Pushes for Rest Area Reform," 6/1/2010)