The rest areas along Interstate 71 in Warren County near the Jeremiah Morrow Bridge are closing for reconstruction. They're scheduled to reopen in spring or summer 2019.
The current north and southbound rest areas are being torn down and will be replaced with more modern facilities featuring a consolidated design. "They will be self-contained structures," says Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) spokesman Brian Cunningham. "The vending area, any brochure materials, and the restrooms will all be in one site. The picnic area will be closer, under roof, right in the same structure."
The current buildings were constructed in the mid-'80s and are falling apart, he says. "They have had ongoing issues with maintenance. The structural aspects of the facilities themselves are starting to deteriorate to the point where it is too costly to keep fixing them."
The new rest areas cost about $5 million apiece. They'll include 20 parking spaces for trucks, up from 8-10, and about 30 spaces for cars. That's down slightly, but Cunningham says research shows users in cars turnover spots at a faster pace than trucks, which usually park for longer stretches.
ODOT says plenty of people still use rest areas and the agency sees them as an important safety measure, especially when it comes to drowsy driving. "Folks can still pull in there and not have to be on the roads drowsy. They can get out and get a drink of water or something else to drink and kind of recuperate."
The next closest rest areas are:
- Northbound: Exit 67, just after the Washington Courthouse/Xenia/U.S. 35 exit (65).
- Southbound: Exit 181 on I-71/I-75 in Florence, Ky.