To support summer travel, the Arizona Department of Transportation will reopen five of the state’s highway rest areas by the end of July after they were closed eight months ago.
Another four rest areas undergoing repairs could open in the fall. The Mazatzal rest area at the Roosevelt Lake turnoff will remain closed.
In October 2009, ADOT closed most of the state’s rest areas due to the state’s budget crisis and decreasing transportation revenues.
After several months of “stabilized” finances and through planning and budgeting by ADOT, five rest areas can reopen, said Bill Pederson, ADOT public information officer.
“Assuming that current transportation revenues remain stable, with no dramatic revenue declines of state highway funds, ADOT will manage critical services for drivers while also incorporating rest area operations into the annual budget,” he said.
“Rest areas are funded as part of ADOT’s operating budget, a fund severely constrained to provide highway maintenance, customer service, law enforcement support and other necessary public safety services.”
Rest areas set to open by the end of July include: Ehrenberg (I-10), Canoa Ranch (I-19), Meteor Crater (I-40), Sacaton (I-10) and San Simon (I-10).
“The closure of rest areas is not a problem of any one state. This is a problem of federal law, which prohibits the exploration of real solutions and punishes states with younger infrastructure,” said Governor Jan Brewer.
“The federal government should allow privatization of rest areas as part of the nation’s highway system, but too many limitations place the full financial burden on states, and that’s where hard choices have to be made.”
“Because our budget is stabilizing, we can fulfill our promise to drivers by reevaluating the rest areas program and reopen most of them,” said ADOT Director John Halikowski.
“However, we still need long-term, sustainable solutions to pay for rest areas and will pursue changes in federal law to allow Arizona to find partnerships and private investment in rest areas to make good use of the limited highway maintenance funds we have.”