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27 Expected Rest Area Shutdowns in Iowa

The Iowa Department of Transportation is planning on shutting down 27 of its rest areas across the state.

Rest area in Adair, Iowa.  By Belle montano-zygmunt  [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Sixteen of the 27 rest areas anticipated to close are parking-only rest areas– those with no restrooms or vending machines.

Although the root of the problem is money, the claim by the DOT is a “change in travel trends.”

A change in travel trends?  People are still driving, right?  People still need rest, right?  We still need that restroom break, right?


The closures won’t happen overnight.  They’re expected to happen over the course of the next 15 years.

The cost savings by that point are expected to reach $25 million.


Closing down the rest areas means additional truck parking will be needed elsewhere.  Truck drivers meeting their maximum amount of hours behind the wheel would have fewer options.

Or would they have fewer options?

In the short term, yes.

But in a still largely rural state, this is an opportunity for more truck stops to open on private land adjacent to interstate highways.

Worrell, Iowa, outside of Davenport, is home to the world’s largest truck stop.   Fine for those in eastern Iowa, but would even this truck stop need to become even larger?  What about those in other parts of Iowa?

Iowa 80 truck stop in Worrell, IA.  Photo by Beatrice Murch, modified by Xiaphias – via Wikipedia. [CC BY 2.0]

Can Rest Areas be Privately Run?

Yes.  Privately-run rest areas can be a viable alternative.

The Florida Turnpike has a total of eight travel plazas, all of which have gas and retail.

The gas and convenience store outlets are run privately by Florida Turnpike Services, while the food and travel retail section is run by Areas USA, in large, open, mall-like facilities.

Existing rest areas with additional land for gas and expanded retail and restaurant operations could bring millions into Iowa, rather than cost millions to demolish needed stops that would no longer be in use.

Imagine the truck or travel stop brand of your choice combined with the amenities a rest area has to offer.


Interior of a Buc-ee’s Travel Stop. From Brett Neilson via Flickr


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