Rest Stops Become A Casualty Of The Recession

Don’t blame me if you didn’t get this story before you set out on your holiday road trip, the WSJ just published it today. If they had any sense it would have been featured on Monday.

I’m talking about the demise of the roadside rest stop. It seems the states have determined that in the interest of cutting spending you and I will just have to plan a little further ahead and map out the gas stations that we might have to use for relief.

There are about 2,500 rest areas along the interstates. State governments build and maintain them. Most have remained steadfastly utilitarian: a parking lot, a simple building with toilets, a few picnic benches, and maybe some vending machines. Because many of the interstates bypassed cities and towns, travelers often had no other options when they needed to pull off the road.

But over the years, big clusters of gas stations, fast-food outlets and motels have sprung up just off interstate exits in all but the most remote parts of the country. A national directory lists nearly 2,500 privately owned truck stops, each with at least 10 parking spaces and two showers. Even Wal-Mart Stores Inc. — which permits overnight stays by recreational vehicles at most of its more than 4,000 locations — offers a popular alternative to old-fashioned rest areas.

A growing number of states have come to see rest areas as obsolete. Rather than spend the money on maintenance and repairs, states began closing them.

I haven’t been to Google Maps just yet so I’m not sure if there’s a way to plot this into a trip. If not, I’m sure someone can come up with it or better yet some enterprising geek can gin an app up for the I-Phone.

I’m pretty sure that as resourceful as we Americans are, we will find a way to cope with this inconvenience. What worries me is that 18 wheeler in my rear view mirror going 100 miles an hour with a driver who has the look of a man who just can’t hold it much longer.

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