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Why do freeway rest stops take so many breaks?

Q. How about asking Caltrans why it can’t keep the rest stops on the I-15 and the I-40 open? Is this some stupid money-saving stunt? It seems there is always one closed on each freeway. What is mystifying is that when they are closed for repairs, there is never anyone repairing anything. They are closed off, on both sides of the freeway, and deserted. And they stay closed off for at least a week. I can’t figure it out. Hopefully you will have better luck!

– Clyde Boyd, Yucaipa

A. Honkland residents, of course, are the smartest in the land – so no surprise that Clyde passed along a terrific gem: Before heading off to Nevada or Arizona, you can determine real fast which rest stops are closed. Just Google “Caltrans QuickMap.”

David Matza, a Caltrans spokesman for Riverside and San Bernardino counties, says that map is kept updated.

The I-15 and the I-10 each have two pairs (one for each direction) of rest stops. Honk is a frequent guest, when they are open, and has found them to be quite nice spots to stretch the legs and use the facilities.

But this week, as an example, half of them were shuttered.

In short, three of the four pairs have problems with water issues because of aging water systems. The heavy use at all of them can play into problems as well.

Each pair works off of a natural well with a filtration system.

“Due to the high volume of traffic to Las Vegas and high usage of the rest area, it requires more work to keep it operational and requires regular closures,” Matza told Honk about the Valley Wells Rest Area on the I-15, 26 miles from the Nevada border. “Plumbing repairs on the facility are the main cause of closures.

“Many of these desert region rest areas,” he said, “there is high levels of contaminates that are highly corrosive and harm the facilities’ infrastructures.”

The water at the rest stops is tested every two weeks.

“I can assure you that Caltrans does all we can to provide clean and functioning facilities for the traveling public,” he said. “Hopefully, sometime in the future, they will all be modernized.”

Even if funds surface for a new system, getting a repair crew out for when the heavily used water systems break down still won’t be as easy or as fast as if they were in downtown Fullerton or Riverside instead of in the middle of a deserted desert.

Q. Just wondering: Within the next few years, California will be phasing out gas-powered cars and going electric. How will all those cars be able to be charged during heat waves, which California has been recently experiencing, when the power companies put us on so-called Flex Alerts and ask us to decrease our use of electricity? I don’t see the power supply increasing significantly anytime soon. California’s plan seems way overly optimistic.

– Michael J. Leland, Stanton

A. Might be.

The state will need 1.2 million public and shared chargers by 2030 for the projected 7.5 million passenger plug-ins cruising about at that point, a California Energy Commission report said in June.

There are now 73,000.

The commission adds it will be important that motorists try and give their vehicles the electric juice “when renewable generation is high, demand on the grid is low, and electricity is cheapest.”

Motorists would program charging for non-peak hours.

In a decade or two, to guard against his home charger conking out, Honk might need to break down and get a luxe bathrobe for when he runs into others at the public charger at 3 a.m.

To ask Honk questions, reach him at honk@ocregister.com. He only answers those that are published. To see Honk online: ocregister.com/tag/honk. Twitter: @OCRegisterHonk


Source: Orange County Register

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