From the Chicago Tribune – October 28, 2017
Illinois gets thousands of responses to rest area survey
Illinois has received nearly 4,500 responses to its public survey asking about highway rest areas in less than two weeks.
The Illinois Department of Transportation launched the public survey to get feedback because the agency is considering how to rehab or possibly close some of those rest areas, the Chicago Tribune reported “Many of our rest areas have reached a point where it’s time to evaluate their future,” Illinois Transportation Secretary Randy Blankenhorn said.
The survey is part of a comprehensive rest area study that analyzes the existing system, IDOT spokeswoman Gianna Urgo said. A timeline of when rest stops may be rehabilitated won’t be determined until the entire study is completed, she said. The study will also look at costs of maintaining the rest areas compared to the services they provide.
“Once the data has been collected and analyzed, strategies can be made about the future of the rest area system,” Urgo said.
The survey was announced Oct. 11. As of Tuesday morning it had received more than 4,400 responses, officials said. IDOT will continue taking responses through Sunday. The 20-question survey asks travelers for their opinions on topics like family restrooms, water fountains, playgrounds and other issues.
Illinois Department of Transportation spokeswoman Kelsea Gurski said many of the state’s 30 public rest areas and 11 welcome centers are 30 to 40 years old.
The rest areas are open 24 hours a day and have restroom, picnic areas, maps, security cameras and parking for recreational vehicles and commercial trucks. The rest areas offer an alternative to retail locations such as fast-food outlets along the highway.
“As they reach the end of their useful life, we want to know how best to meet the needs of the traveling public — what features are valued by the public,” Gurski said.