Rest areas closed starting today: Drivers adjust to change

By Matt Butner - bio | email
Posted by Terry Alexander - email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - 18 rest areas throughout Virginia are now officially closed. Drivers are now adjusting to life on the road with fewer places to stop and take a break.

The signs are everywhere on Virginia's interstates: if you need to stop, you just have to keep driving. The New Kent rest area on I-64 is still open, a welcome sign for truck drivers like Jim Brady.

"I run from the Rocky Mountains to the east coast," said Jim.

Jim spends up to a month at a time living in the cab of his truck.

"This is my home away from home, and I don't like doing what I have to do back here where I sleep," he said.

And you don't have to be a trucker to appreciate the ease of using a rest area versus exiting the highway to find a place to stop.

"Rest areas are a little more convenient, a lot cheaper. I spend less at the rest area than I do at a gas station," said motorist Harry Brogan. "You can swing into one of these, get in and get out pretty quick."

At the Goochland rest area, Gwenyth Rankin set up a one-person protest of the closings

"It's going to ruin the environment because people will burn more fossil fuel to drive farther to find rest stops off the highway," Rankin said.

VDOT hopes to save 9 million dollars a year with the closures, and they have made some provisions for truckers, allowing them to park and stay longer at some of the remaining rest areas. But Jim Brady says it's not enough. He points to I-81, a busy trucking route, as an example.

"When you have a stretch of road, 331 miles, and you only have 3 rest areas, you're going to find me on the side of the road somewhere," Jim said.

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