Pennsylvania to reopen some closed rest stops; bathrooms remain shut

Pennsylvania has backed off on its closure of rest stops … sort of.

The state announced Tuesday afternoon it will reopen 13 rest stops for parking. The state also will install portable toilet facilities at all of those sites. But the indoor bathroom facilities will not be reopened.

“In order to prevent further spread of COVID-19, we will not be opening any of the indoor facilities because there is no staff to keep them clean and properly sanitized,” Department of Transportation spokeswoman Alexis Campbell said in an email to FreightWaves.

The stops to be reopened are:

  • Luzerne on Interstate 81, both northbound and southbound
  • Cumberland on Interstate 81, northbound and southbound
  • Venango on Interstate 80, eastbound and westbound
  • Centre on Interstate 80, eastbound and westbound
  • Montour on Interstate 80, eastbound and westbound
  • Crawford on Interstate 79, northbound and southbound
  • Allegheny on Interstate 79, just northbound.

“At these locations, PennDOT will be taking down the barricades on some facilities in critical locations and making them available for truck parking,” the statement from DOT said.

Pennsylvania has 36 DOT-operated rest stops. However, only 30 were newly closed as a result of the order. The other six were undergoing different projects that already had them closed, Campbell said.

The initial order from Pennsylvania DOT did not affect private truck stops such as TA or Love’s, which remain open. Instead, it closed bare-bones facilities that had free parking spots, indoor bathrooms and vending machines. Campbell said in her email that at least one of the portable toilets at each site will be ADA compliant.

“We will continue to evaluate and will determine whether additional rest areas can be reopened,” Campbell’s email added.

“Every decision made has been in the interest of mitigating the spread of COVID-19 and we are constantly reevaluating our response,” she wrote. “That said, we also recognize that drivers need and deserve access to rest areas.”The decision to close the rest stops just after midnight on Tuesday brought on significant criticism. The reversal came about 36 hours after the closures.