Rest stop distance: how is the placement of rest areas on highways decided?

Rest stops are a comforting staple of the American highway arrangement, but sometimes when you need one—really need one—in the midst of a long road stumble, the closest passing to relieved bladders and stretched legs can seem miles away. How far apart are rest stops supposed to be placed on the interstate ?
According to union policy, about every half-hour of drive or so there should be a home to take a break. This includes state-run respite stops, commercial rest stops, and regular city exits—in other words, the placement of official rest check is calculated against the being of early, non-state-run opportunities to pull over .
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The official purpose of a rest area is for guard and convenience, as stipulated in the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956, which created the home interstate system. The act recognized that in some rural parts of the interstate opportunities to exit the highway would be few and far between. Since shoulders were meant only for emergencies and vehicle breakdowns, casual rest areas were necessary. The half-hour rule of ovolo was set out in a 1958 policy by the American Association of State Highway Officials that laid out detailed standards for the design and placement of respite areas in the national interstate arrangement. The huge majority of rest sites were developed concurrently with the highway system itself in the two decades following the 1956 act .
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Although the 1958 policy did not designate minimum or average distances between sites—that would be besides complicated given the many variable factors on a highway like traffic volume, topography, and climate—it broadly stated that there should be enough rest areas to “ sanely accommodate the guard rest needs of Interstate highway travelers ” and “ encourage drivers to use them as a guard measure to break long periods of change of location. ”
Within the half-hour guideline, rest site placement besides took into consideration base hit, utility, the monetary value of land, natural scenic views, and points of particular matter to, in addition to factors like drain and handiness of drink body of water. More small-to-medium-sized areas were preferred to fewer larger areas. adjacent states would coordinate so pillow sites weren ’ thymine excessively near together on the lapp highway near the state line .
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Some states have since issued their own guidelines, particularly states with a draw of huge, rural landscape. For exemplify, in 2009 Minnesota recommended spacing rest areas every 30 miles or less to reduce drowsy driving-related crashes. Texas ’ plan includes fully rest areas with toilets, but the state besides provides smaller picnic areas in between that might comprise nothing more than some tables and parking spaces .
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Before the federal treatment in 1956, drivers couldn ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate consider on a place to stop at all. The character of early respite areas ( then called wayside parks ) ranged wide and most had sprung up organically. The first unofficial rest intercept is believed to have appeared in Michigan in 1929, where a road engineer noticed people who had pulled over to picnic on a tree stump, albeit with difficulty. The mastermind was inspired to create some wayside picnic tables at the point, and the theme spread. early wayside parks were normally found by long stretches of road, particularly near scenic vistas or historic landmarks, and were much identical rustic, with no range water system or flushing toilets .
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In the early 1960s and ’ 70s, some states began to view perch stops as opportunities to show off an area ’ s regional character, since these sites were much the only touch a traveler would have with the local anesthetic landscape. South Dakota has teepee rest areas, Texas has picnic tables under oil fishing gear towers, and in Kentucky you ’ ll find a 1860s southern sign of the zodiac with menstruation furnishings—the lone historic house restored as a remainder area in the area .
In the past decade, some states have begun to question how necessity lie stops are on the 21st-century highway, particularly in relative to the costs to maintain them. Although the costs are relatively low, rest areas became a major target to trim express transportation budgets during the late recession. Virginia closed 19 of 42 rest areas in 2009, resulting in a public cry ; they were reopened the following year after Bob McDonnell made it a top promise during his successful campaign for the governorship. To help with fund, some states like Iowa are experimenting with public-private partnerships where businesses sponsor a stay sphere .
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Explainer thanks historian Joanna Dowling, who runs the web site restareahistory.org .
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