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AASHTO Journal

Virginia DOT Opens First of Three I-95 ‘Safety Rest Areas’ Targeted for Replacement

The Virginia Department of Transportation opened a newly built "safety rest area" Dec. 21 at the Ladysmith exit on southbound Interstate 95 between Fredericksburg and Richmond, nine months after demolishing the original facility there.

VDOT said the $3.5 million project replaced an aging rest area at that location that was built in the 1960s, and provides larger, modern facilities for more than 1.4 million annual visitors.

capitol0816.jpgThe Ladysmith location was one of three rest areas VDOT selected for reconstruction, is the first to reopen and the new facility was completed nearly six months ahead of schedule.

Two others on northbound I-95 – one in Caroline County and another in Greensville County near the North Carolina border – are now under construction, the agency said, with completion expected in early spring.

"Rest areas and welcome centers encourage drivers to take breaks, which leads to fewer fatigue related accidents," said Transportation Secretary Aubrey Layne. "Providing clean, safe facilities is important to motorists, and this new rest area will better meet the needs of the growing volume of visitors along the I-95 corridor."

That is a heavily traveled part of I-95, and in an area where interstate truck drivers often report a lack of on-highway areas to pull over for rest breaks when they reach their federal hours-of-service limits. A number of state DOTs are pursuing projects to upgrade rest areas for both passenger cars and commercial trucks, provide more truck parking and develop ways to let truck drivers know where they find on-highway parking spaces.

VDOT Commissioner Charles Kilpatrick said the agency began rebuilding the southbound Ladysmith facility "because not only was it one of the most visited rest areas in the state, but also one of the oldest and smallest. Now, less than a year later, motorists have a new, larger rest area where they can enjoy some fresh air, pick up tourism or travel information, use our facilities, charge their mobile device, and get back out on the road rested, refreshed and focused on the task of driving. That's the true mission and purpose of our rest areas."

In all, VDOT assessed its 43 rest areas and welcome centers across the state and ranked them based on visitation volume and age.

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