A hand pump is part of the historical value of the Sandy Springs Rest Area on U.S. 52 in southern Adams County, according to local supporters of keeping the rest area open. Carleta Weyrich/The People’s Defender
This rest area on U.S. Route 52 at Sandy Springs is under scrutiny by the Ohio Department of Transportation for possible closure. Carleta Weyrich/The People’s Defender
SANDY SPRINGS - A second Adams County rest area, near this community on U.S. Route 52, is under review by the Ohio Department of Transportation for closure. ODOT previously closed a rest area on state Route 125 near Panhandle and state Route 136.
"No matter where we go to look at the rest area, there is local sentiment," Vaughn Wilson, ODOT District 9 deputy director, told a group of 17 people gathered at a public meeting Tuesday evening. "The rest areas have served a great purpose for many years. . . What we have found is that these facilities are getting harder and harder to maintain. There tends to be night time activity. The cleaning process has become more hazardous, we may have to clean up needles from drug activity from the grounds. We have to look at the value versus the expense."
The rest area is built on an easement for highway purposes only, which will revert back to the original owners if it is closed. Other options are for the local community or county, or a non-profit organization to take it over, according to Wilson.
Deemed a primitive rest area, the existing facility consists of a non-flush privy, and it is limited or restricted use. Along with deferred maintenance, the restroom poses health and safety risks, and the antiquated facility is not compliant with state and federal guidelines, according to the ODOT notice for the public meeting.
Those in attendance discussed the value of the rest area to the local community and to travelers on U.S. Route 52, which is designated a National Scenic Byway. The section of federal highway on which the rest area is in use stretches from Cincinnati to Portsmouth, running parallel to the Ohio River. The historical and biological significance of the area and of the rest area itself was discussed at Tuesday's meeting.
Wilson said public comments gathered will be reviewed prior to making the decision whether or not to close the Sandy Springs facility. In about a month, Wilson will make that determination.
Written comments may be sent to the Ohio Department of Transportation, 650 Eastern Avenue, Chillicothe, OH 45601. The deadline for comment is Dec. 15, 2012.
For more information, contact Kathleen Fuller, Public Information Officer for ODOT at 1-888-819-8501, ext. 774-8834, toll free in Ohio; or (740)774-8834, for the direct line and outside Ohio.