November 6, 2017

IDOT asks travelers to help draw map to future of rest areas

ILLINOIS RADIO NETWORK

The Illinois Department of Transportation is relying on the public to help them enhance the traveling experience of drivers who use rest areas in the state.

Almost 6,500 people responded to an IDOT public survey about rest areas within a two week period, according to Kelsea Gurski, a spokesperson for the Illinois Department of Transportation.

Gurski said the 20 question survey focused on what people think about the current features of rest areas in the state and what improvements need to be made.

They also asked respondents to rank how important certain features are to help determine what IDOT should do next.

"We’re doing this because we know it’s time to evaluate the needs our rest areas have and start planning for their future," Gurski said.

Gurski said the total cost of the study is approximately $870,000 in public funding and the survey is just one component of the overall study.

More information will be gathered in the coming months.

"We are going to be looking at traffic patterns near rest areas, talking to the trucking industry, and even evaluating crash reports on Illinois roadways to see the big picture," Gurski said.

The survey closed on Oct. 29 so Gurski said IDOT hasn’t had the opportunity to see if there are any common suggestions for changes needed at Illinois rest areas.

Gurski said she doesn’t know how IDOT will implement the changes requested by the public yet.

"We’re really just going to be gathering information between now and this summer and once we have all that information and analyze it, then we’ll start to get a better feel for the roadmap ahead," Gurski said.

There are 30 rest areas and 11 welcome centers in Illinois and some of them are up to 40 years old.

The rest areas and welcome centers currently offer a range of services including maps, parking for recreational vehicles, restroom facilities, picnic areas, and more.

More than 36 million people visit the welcome centers and rest areas that Illinois has to offer every year, according to IDOT.