Tuesday, February 23, 2016

States Closing Interstate Rest Stops Trending

As I drove nearly 2500 miles across the United States on February 11th, 12th, and 13th, I found a disturbing trend in Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Louisiana, Florida, and South Carolina: closed interstate rest stops.  It got to the point that after the sun rose on the 11th, that I gave up hoping to find an open rest stop at which I could empty my bladder, and instead drank less water so that I could time my bath room breaks around gasoline refills, every 300 to 400 miles.  Yes, at 80 mph (most of those states the speed limit was 75 mph) that's every 3 and a half to 4 hours of uncomfortable, dehydrated, kidney stressing driving.
Taken, after the third time I found a rest stop closed along my journey across Southern Umerikah
Why does it matter if an interstate rest stop is closed?  Well, drivers like me, who were headed across country, don't get a chance to look around at the beautiful state for a moment.  There's no chance to stretch your legs, avoid deep vein thrombosis, or chuckle at a sign that warns people that rattlesnakes might be near, and to watch where they walk their dogs.  Seeing a closed interstate rest stops also sends several messages to the driver:
1) this state doesn't care about visitors, doesn't welcome them, and is not hospitable
2) this state doesn't care about infrastructure, and if they can't afford to maintain a simple rest stop, how bad of shape do you think their bridges and roads are in?
3) the legislatures of this state incorrectly believe that everything is better provided by the private sector, including things like imaginary free rest rooms, which typically don't exist, since most merchants want you to buy something from their store if you're going to use their rest room facilities (and me, see... I brought my own water, almonds, grass fed beef jerky, and macadamia nuts, so there was no need to stop and purchase snacks along the way; the focus was on maximizing driven miles efficiency, and not lolly gagging around to turn a 3 day cross country trip into a 4 day trip)

Now I guess, it is possible, that some states may have thought that they had "too many" interstate rest stops, and so they were reducing the number of them and trying to improve the remaining ones, to better serve the traveling public.  Possible, but unlikely, since in Arizona along I-8 and I-10, I found exactly 2 rest stops open. New Mexico, one at the border with 2 others closed.  Texas, along I-10, for 12 hours of driving, only 1 open rest stop.  Louisiana, only 1 (but I was driving late at night through the commonwealth, and wasn't going to stop anyways).  Mississippi and Alabama I did not stay long enough in to warrant any stops.  Florida had 10X more state troopers looking for speeders than it had open rest stops.  And my former home state of South Carolina, where I had lived for 16 years all-together since getting out of college, had been closing rest stops on I-85 and I-26 for more than the last decade, dedicating the funds that used to go to maintaining rest stops towards tax cuts for the upper 1% of the population.

Ironically, before I headed out on my cross country journey, I had thought (as I was falling asleep the night before) "maybe I should download an ap to show me where each of the interstate rest stops would be, to plan rest room breaks proactively?"  I am glad I didn't waste my time or data to do so, since such an ap would have been utterly useless, or grossly misleading.

Thanks Republican Legislatures, all (link here).  It's fantastic how you're looking out for the little guy, the retired travelers (oh, I saw & passed my fair share of people Much Older than me along I-8, 10, and 95 on my way to Charleston), and visitors to your states.  Awesome "first impressions" you're making.  Very progressive tax policies and how you apply those funds to up-keep your states.

I doubt Umerikah will ever wake up...  just a string of anecdotes, shouted out into the void, amounting to candidates like Trump, Cruz, Carson, and Rubio... gerrymandered into local districts paid for by Koch Industries super pac funding & analysis...  sad.

1 comment:

  1. Well that's just sad. World's largest economy but can't keep highway rest stops open.


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