COLUMBIA, S.C. — Rest areas along South Carolina highways may soon be renovated. The state budget drafted up by lawmakers includes $40 million for the needed upgrades.
Thousands of travelers make pit stops at South Carolina rest areas each day. Donald and Teresa, a couple traveling from Ohio to Florida for vacation, told News19 they like rest areas because "you’re in and out, it's convenient."
The couple stopped at the rest area in Gaston off I-26. They always stop at rest areas when driving because they say it’s easier and faster.
"I feel safer, and you're actually not going inside of an establishment, and you keep your distance inside," Teresa said. "The restrooms we've come across are actually very clean."
SCDOT manages the rest areas and welcome centers in the Palmetto State. They asked for $40 million in state funding for needed improvements.
Brittany Harriot, the public information coordinator for SCDOT told News19 that some of the rest stops were built 45 years ago.
"So, you can imagine that it's about time for them to be updated a little bit," she said. "Some of them don't have air conditioning, that needs to be fixed, and then there's some, they aren't ADA accessible."
Harriot said they’ll also add more truck parking; something Donald and Teresa think needs to be done at all rest areas.
When asked what improvements they'd like to see, Donald said "sometimes the parking and separation between trucks and cars, so you don’t have the truck and car traffic."
Teresa agreed. "Last year we were at a rest stop and somebody hit us and left, and it was because of the close parking," she said.
Their main concern is safety and Harriot said that’s SCDOT’s number one goal for the renovations.
"We ultimately just want [our rest areas] to be safe for everyone and efficient for anybody traveling," said Harriot.
She added that each rest area will cost between $5 and $10 million, depending on how much of the truck parking is added and what amenities they put in.
There are 19 rest areas and 9 welcome centers in South Carolina. Harriot said they’re in the planning and permit stage of renovations, which could take 18 to 24 months.