So why does Gallia County’s modern rest area get an upgrade but Meigs County’s primitive rest area get squat? The answer boils down to one word — money.
David Rose, spokesperson for ODOT, went on to explain the federal money appropriated for the upgrades were to update rest areas which don’t meet standards set forth in the Americans with Disabilities Act and to make these areas more energy efficient or “green.” The rest stop on U.S. 33, despite not having running water and a sewage treatment option, does meet the standards mandated in the ADA and it’s about as “green” as a rest area can get.
Rose said those 44 rest areas receiving the upgrade are all also of the same design and cookie cutter style which means the upgrades are similar at each area. ODOT received around $16 million for the upgrades which breaks down to just over $300,000 spent on each of the 44 rest areas. Rose said ODOT has estimated it would cost $1 million to upgrade the US 33 rest area (basically starting from scratch) with the biggest hurdles being a sewage treatment option and running water for the facility.
The state of Ohio has spent hundreds of millions to upgrade US 33 from the Ohio River to Columbus. Around $100 million was spent on the Athens to Darwin connector of U.S. 33 and $50 million on the Ravenswood Connector along U.S. 33. Though all this money has been spent on roads traversing Meigs County, no funds have been spent to upgrade the county’s only rest stop from primitive to modern. So, when ODOT announced the modernization of rest areas which were already modern to begin with, such as the one in Kanauga, many in the community felt something definitely stinks.
Rose said ODOT is very aware of the community’s frustration and the issue of the rest area on U.S. 33 is often one of the first topics brought to the agency’s attention by local officials. Rose said ODOT plans to continue to work with local officials to attempt to find a solution during a time when the state budget is “maxed out.” However, for now the funding isn’t available for Meigs to step into the Twentieth Century when it comes to ridding itself of its glorified outhouse and the stigma which comes along with it.
Of 29 Appalachian counties in Ohio, 22 of ODOT’s primitive rest areas can be found to greet travelers or, in some cases, prompt travelers to keep driving until hitting the nearest county with a modern rest area — or a secluded wooded area.