$14.1 Million Rest Stop Woes 11/26/12
CBS 7 News
November 26, 2012
Ward County - In the middle of holiday traveling season, a $14.1 million rest stop is struggling to become fully operational.
“We have four kids in the truck for so long so the playground is good,” said Crystal Ramirez who is traveling back to Arizona. Ramirez and her family are one of the hundreds of travelers who use the recently opened rest stop in Ward County.
The $14.1 million rest area off of I-20 is the only rest stop within 100 miles, but there are a few obstacles contractors and the state agency TxDOT have to go through before opening.
Management says electricity and plumbing issues are putting some restrooms out of service.
The construction to the rest stop started in January of last year, contractors out of Dallas say they had to push back their deadline. They say it was a combination of bad weather and the lack of workers available in the area.
"These subcontractors are trying to find enough manpower out there to supplement their crews," said David Dicicco The Commercial Superintendent with AUI Contractors.
He says the rest stop was handed over to TxDOT as of November 8. TxDOT now has employees to tend to the rest area.
"Nothing is cheap these days," said Dwaine Broussard who works out of Pecos. He says he travels I-20 every other day and the rest stop was badly needed, but questions why it took so long to complete.
“It serves a purpose, whether the money justifies it I don't know,” he said.
In a statement, TxDOT officials in Austin say unpredictable problems delayed the project a few months:
"TxDOT is happy to provide Texans with a safe rest area in Pyote. Due to unforeseen challenges, including sidewalk shifting caused by soil conditions and an additional embankment, the project was delayed a few months. Because safety is TxDOT’s top priority, the agency incurred some additional time and cost to complete the project and meet the high standards that the traveling public deserves. That attention to detail in the past has contributed to a decrease in fatigue-related accidents and fatalities on Texas roadways."
Ramirez says this is the best rest area she has ever seen, but it’s expected for the amount of money spent.
“That’s a long time for that amount of money,” she said.
The official ribbon cutting date is undetermined. The rest area's management says TxDOT wants to make sure everything is working before officially opening.
TxDOT headquarters in Austin did not disclose in their statement on how much more money was used to complete the project, but CBS 7 will keep you updated as soon as that information is available.