Dale rest area closure causes concern in trucking community

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INDOT confirmed plans to close the Nancy Hanks Rest Area near Dale.

According to INDOT, the shutdown of the east and westbound rest areas is due to cost efficiency based on the amount of traffic the rest area sees, and needed repairs on the thirty-year old buildings. Crime is also an issue.

“There’s a very large investment there,” says INDOT Southwest Communication Director Jason Tiller, “and the usage just does not justify the amount of money we’d have to put into that.”

In fact, that amount would be in the millions.

“To keep these facilities up and running, you’re looking at a significant investment of probably a million dollars per facility. So for the two facilities there, two million dollars. That includes annual operating costs, all the maintenance we have to do, contractors and things like that,” says Tiller.

Tiller says there is no set timeline for the closures, but it will be in the immediate future.

While the shutdowns could potentially save taxpayers money, it could complicate commutes for truckers that deliver throughout the Tri-State.

While INDOT estimates that only around eight percent of traffic on I-64 stops at the Nancy Hanks Rest Area, many of those drivers are truckers.

“We use it quite a bit. We’re from Louisville so we come through here quite often,” says truck driver Tim Williamson. “I think just about all of our drivers stop in here quite regularly.”

The rest area is not an overnight facility, but truckers we spoke to said it is packed in the mornings.

It is also used by drivers to take mandatory breaks.

One driver told Eyewitness News that he’s required to stop every 150 miles. Two other drivers told us they rely on rest areas like these to take those breaks safely.

“With the mandatory rules that they got now where we gotta shut down, there’s more truckers on the road and there’s limited places to park,” said James Southard.

Now, those drivers will have one less place to go.

“There’s no place for us to park out here,” said Rick Tucker.

In a statement, Indiana Motor Truck Association’s president Gary Langston said in part ” […] Indiana already has a truck parking shortage, so any reduction in capacity is a concern. I’ve been told that the resources that are currently used to support those three locations will be reinvested to build new facilities. I look forward to seeing that plan.”

In the meantime, truckers say they have another concern.

“Where you going to stop now?”

“The off ramps. That’s it, that’s the only place you can stop,” said Williamson.

“More trucks are going to be parked on the side of the road,” said Tucker. “Exit ramps, off ramps. It’s just going to be more dangerous for us.”

After the closure, the properties will be demolished and secured.

Soon, if truckers want to stop at this rest area, they’ll have to keep on trucking.  

“Gotta stop somewhere!”

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(This story was originally published on January 9, 2019)

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