By the time the Internet publishes this article, two rest areas in Missouri, southbound I-29 near Dearborn and I-35 near Lathrop, will be closed for around seven months. This will put more pressure on the truck parking problem in the Show-me State, but not for long, as the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) is planning on using the land for many more free parking spaces for big rigs.
Having fully functional bathrooms with plumbing and information stations about the state’s history are very nice to have, but it means little when it impacts the number of drivers, commercial or otherwise, that can stop and actually rest at the rest area.
According to MoDOT, 35% of all traffic on Missouri’s interstates are commercial vehicles, and since they disproportionately drive the lion’s share of miles on the interstates, MoDOT believes it makes sense to have more places that cater specifically to those that need the resting space most.
“When truckers can’t find parking off the road, they resort to parking on the interstate access ramps and this creates a safety hazard,” said MoDOT northwest district engineer Marty Liles. “By converting the rest areas to truck parking, we’re able to help meet the needs of commercial vehicles while decreasing the costs associated in the renovation and upkeep of traditional rest areas.”
The plan is to spend $3.8 million on removing the buildings in the rest areas, and replacing it with numerous additional parking spaces and vault toilets. While the planned vault toilets will be a step back from the current bathroom system the rest areas have, their conservative use of space will enable MoDOT to fit even more parking spaces on the lot to ensure drivers can sleep safely. They are also cheaper to maintain, as Liles said in his statement.
The project is expected to complete in October 2023. The most likely outcome for drivers that are not commercial and need a rest in these areas is to head to the northbound rest area on the other side of the highway. As of the time of publishing there is no given number as to the total truck parking spaces that will be gained as a result of this project, but considering MoDOT often records 100% truck parking capacity at these locations, it is likely a worthwhile investment to keep the nation’s supply chain rolling along.
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