Pennsylvania has closed all 35 of its highway rest stops to all activity following the declaration of a state of emergency.
A spokeswoman for the state’s Department of Transportation said the closure impacts not only the limited facilities at the rest stops, like bathrooms and vending machines. It also shuts down parking access as well.
“We are reevaluating,” spokeswoman Alexis Campbell told FreightWaves in a text message. “However, we must also consider the ability of our contract cleaners to provide staffing adequate to maintain clean, safe and sanitary facilities while limiting the exposure risk to staff and public.”
The rest stops in Pennsylvania have limited facilities but also have one highly attractive feature – they are free and legal to park. As a truck driver noted in a Facebook truckers group, the alternative will now be the shoulders of the highway. (Though truckers pulling goods that exempt them from the current Hours of Service rule may be able to spend some more time searching for better parking than a shoulder.)
The closures took pace at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday, March 17. The state, in its announcement, noted that there already had been closures in place in Montgomery, Delaware, Bucks and Chester counties, all of them in the Philadelphia suburbs.
Meanwhile, in neighboring Ohio, where there also is a state of emergency in place, a spokeswoman for that state’s DOT said there are no restrictions in place at its rest stops.