Connecticut DOT: Cutbacks Begin in Operating Hours at Interstate Rest Areas

AASHTO Journal, 30 September 2016

The Connecticut Department of Transportation reminded motorists that it was eliminating evening and overnight operating schedules for its rest areas on interstate highways effective Sept. 30, as one of several actions it has taken to deal with budget cuts.

Those sites will still allow parking at all hours, but drivers will have to go off the interstates for other services outside the limited daytime schedules.

capitol0816.jpgThe department first notified the public July 22 that rest areas would have to operate on restricted schedules, in a move it said would save $2 million a year.

The CTDOT said its plans to deal with $37 million in sending cuts for the 2017 budget year that began July 1 included $19 million in road and bridge program reductions and $18 million from public transit.

On the transit site it proposed fare hikes for commuter rail and bus rides, plus reductions in after-hours maintenance, ticket window hours, overtime pay and fuel savings.

Besides cutting staffed hours at seven highway rest areas and closing the Westbrook welcome center completely on July 27, the agency’s highway and bridge reductions include decreasing maintenance such as tree cutting, joint and crack sealing, and drainage work.

It also plans for savings by delaying some new hires, plus anticipated fuel savings and reduced winter salt purchases because it starts the season with a larger inventory after the past year’s mild winter.┬áThe state agency also cut $100,000 in subsidies to municipal planning organizations.

The CTDOT also plans reductions of staffed hours at seven highway rest areas and closing the Westbrook welcome center completely. The seven staffed rest areas will be closed overnight, but truck parking will be permitted. The budget proposal is also based on obtaining sponsorship funding to sustain the CHAMP highway emergency service program.

Under the new operating hours, the I-84 rest area in Danbury will be open 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Otherwise, 8 to 4 schedules will be in place for the centers on I-84 in Willington and Southington, for the I-91 rest areas in Wallingford and in Middletown, and for the I-95 facility in North Stonington.

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