An Examination of the Operation and Motorist Usage of Virginia's Highway Rest Areas and Welcome Centers

Report No: 89-R2

Published in 1988

About the report:

This study was conducted to examine existing conditions at Virginia's interstate rest areas and welcome centers and to assess what impact additional services, such as vending machines, might have on the service delivery of these facilities. A selected sample of seven rest areas and four welcome centers were visited in October 1986, May 1987, and August 1987 for a 1- to 2-day period for the purpose of obtaining data. Traffic counts, vehicle occupancy, length of stay, restroom and amenity usage, and parking lot occupancy rates were all recorded. Videotapes were made to record general condition. Stopping motorists were asked to respond to a mail back survey, and interviews were conducted with rest area custodians. The impact of vending machines, which were installed at 7 sites in May 1987, was also assessed. The study generally revealed that the interstate traveler is quite dependent on rest areas and welcome centers. It also pointed out the need for additional and refurbished facilities in Virginia, especially with respect to women's restrooms. Vending machines were found to be enthusiastically received by the public, to generate approximately 30 percent more refuse but little in the way of litter, to incur some vandalism but only while attendants were not on duty, and to generate a substantial amount of revenue for the VDOT and Virginia State Department for the Visually Handicapped.

Disclaimer Statement:The contents of this report reflect the views of the author(s), who is responsible for the facts and the accuracy of the data presented herein. The contents do not necessarily reflect the official views or policies of the Virginia Department of Transportation, the Commonwealth Transportation Board, or the Federal Highway Administration. This report does not constitute a standard, specification, or regulation. Any inclusion of manufacturer names, trade names, or trademarks is for identification purposes only and is not to be considered an endorsement.


  • Michael A. Perfater

Last updated: December 28, 2023

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