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2 long-shuttered rest stops reopened to help truck drivers during COVID-19 pandemic

While the COVID-19 pandemic has kept many people home and closed businesses across the state, truck drivers are still out on the roads.

"And even in this current environment, they are always looking for a place to rest and a place to sleep," said Tony Bradley, the president and CEO of the Arizona Trucking Association.

To support the truck drivers during the pandemic, the Arizona Department of Transportation reopened two rest stops in northern Arizona.

According to Ryan Harding, a public information officer with the department, the rest stops will be opened for the time being, but there aren't any plans to keep these areas open permanently.

The Park Rest Area along Interstate 40, just west of Flagstaff, and Christensen Park Rest Area along Interstate 17, which is just south of Flagstaff, are now both open to drivers.

The Park Rest Area closed in 2009 and Christensen Park Rest Area closed in 2002.

According to the ADOT press release, ADOT crews have stocked the rest area with portable toilets, hand-washing stations and trash bins. Both rest areas are only available for commercial vehicles.

Normally, drivers are required to take a 30-minute break for every eight hours of driving. Bradley said drivers usually get dinner and rest at a restaurant or mall, but now many places are closed.

"And obviously with restaurants not having any dining availability, they're looking for other options," Bradley said.

Even before the pandemic, drivers had a hard time finding a place to park and rest due to a shortage of parking spaces, Bradley said.

"There's a limited amount of both commercial parking, what we would call a truck stop, and public parking, which is a rest area," Bradley said.

Before the pandemic, Bradley said the Arizona Trucking Association and ADOT were studying the lack of parking spots for truck drivers.

Many drivers can't find a place to park and end up parking on the side of the highway, which Bradley says is unauthorized parking.

Reopening the two stops should help a bit, at least for the time being.

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