[vendtalk] Fw: REST AREAS IN IOWA - Article from Des Moines Register

Loren Wakefield isaiah5719 at mchsi.com
Tue Mar 23 15:13:19 UTC 2010

Loren Wakefield

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Subject: REST AREAS IN IOWA - Article from Des Moines Register

FYI.  This article was in today's Des Moines Register.  Roger


By WILLIAM PETROSKI * bpetroski at dmreg.com * March 23, 2010

State officials have abandoned a site they had chosen for a replacement rest 
area on Interstate Highway 35 north of Des Moines and will consider the 
option of simply letting motorists find convenience stores and fast-food 
restaurants for bathroom breaks.

The Ankeny rest areas, which are scheduled for demolition, are used by 
500,000 to 600,000 travelers annually.

The Iowa Department of Transportation had been studying the possibility of 
building a $10 million rest area at the interchange of I-35 and Iowa Highway 
210 east of Huxley. The single rest area, which would have replaced the 
Ankeny rest areas, would have served traffic on both sides of I-35 and would 
have included a large overnight parking lot for truckers.

The dilemma of where to build rest stops has revived a long-simmering 
dispute over whether rest stops are still needed near metropolitan areas.

Tom Kane, the executive director of the Des Moines Area Metropolitan 
Planning Organization, said it makes sense not to replace older rest stops 
in metro areas.

"Those rest areas were rural when they were built in the 1960s and 1970s," 
he said. "To say that we want everybody to go to a QuikTrip or a McDonald's 
is not the exact point.

"The point is that there are a lot more places today if you need to get off 
the interstate to take a break, get a bite to eat, and use the restroom," 
Kane said.

An Internet search shows at least 10 fast-food outlets and convenience 
stores within about 2 miles of the existing Ankeny rest areas. Those rest 
areas are scheduled to be demolished in 2012 to make room for an interchange 
at I-35 and Northeast 36th Street.

The Ankeny rest areas are located on both sides of I-35. Building rest areas 
on both sides of the road would cost an estimated $14 million.

The Huxley-area plans were dropped last week amid strong opposition from 
local residents who had concerns about taking valuable land off property tax 
rolls. They also voiced worries about additional traffic and possible crime. 
Letters protesting the plans were sent to DOT officials by the Story County 
Board of Supervisors, along with city councils from Cambridge, Huxley, 
Kelley and Slater.

"The residents don't want it there; that's pretty obvious," said state Sen. 
Rich Olive, D-Story City. "They feel that interchange is not the right place 
for a rest stop."

DOT District Engineer Scott Dockstader said Monday that the Iowa 
Transportation Commission, the DOT's policymaking body, will consider 
several options in the next several months to replace the Ankeny rest areas. 
This will include looking at other prospective sites on the nine-mile 
stretch of I-35 between Ankeny and the Huxley area and possibly north of 

"There will at least be a discussion of do we want to replace it, or do we 
need to replace it at all?" Dockstader said.

The issue of not replacing some rest areas first arose in 2006, when the DOT 
was discussing the possible replacement of the Ankeny and Waukee rest areas. 
It voted, 6-0, to reaffirm its long-standing policy of maintaining 40 
full-service interstate highway rest areas statewide.

At the time, critics said small restrooms at restaurants and convenience 
stores were not a good option for serving truckers who need a place to rest 
or travelers on large buses.

The next-closest rest areas to Ankeny are on I-35 about 26 miles north near 
Story City and about 58 miles south near Osceola; on I-80 about 17 miles 
southeast near Mitchellville and about 23 miles southwest near Waukee.

Megan Kring, a spokeswoman for Kum and Go of West Des Moines, which operates 
425 convenience stores in 11 states, said her company doesn't have a stance 
on whether the DOT should have rest areas.

"But I can say that Kum and Go interstate locations are set up to welcome 
all travelers with restrooms," Kring said. "We really focus on traveler 
needs at those locations."

Brenda Neville, president of the Iowa Motor Truck Association, a trucking 
industry group, said her group's priority is finding additional parking 
space for truck drivers. Her organization would support using existing 
space, such as former weigh stations, to provide additional safe parking for 
trucks. One possibility would be to use an obsolete state truck scale on 
I-35 south of Ames.

"With an existing location, the infrastructure is already there, so why not 
utilize it in a manner that provides additional parking without taking on a 
lot of additional cost?" Neville said= 

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