Due to budget concerns, it looks like the Mazatzal Rest Area at the intersection of Highway 87 and 188 will not be opened until July at the earliest.
The rest area was closed in December due to the sewage system becoming overwhelmed with waste and rain from the wet winter. Now that temperatures are rising and the system’s ponds are drying out, engineers had hoped to open the rest area sooner rather than later.
But the Arizona Department of Transportation says it will keep the rest area closed for at least two more months or until they figure out where they stand in next year’s budget.
Public Information Officer Bill Williams said the Arizona legislature asked ADOT to reduce operating expenditures until next year’s fiscal budget is determined, which begins July 1. To save money without having to cut jobs, ADOT decided to keep the rest area closed.
Depending on the economic situation in July, ADOT may decide to keep the rest area closed longer.
Williams said because there are rest room services within 20 miles of the rest area and it is not used as frequently as other state rest stops, the Mazatzal Rest Area would stay closed to save money.
Previously, Williams had said the rest area would not be opened until technical problems were fixed on the old sewage system.
The rest area has an evapotranspiration system in place, which uses four ponds or beds to dry effluent waste. Before reaching the ponds, waste from the system first goes into a septic tank system below the service centers. The effluent water from the tanks then flows down to the quarter-acre beds adjacent to the service center where it evaporates.
The ponds do not work well under wet conditions, Williams said.