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Rest areas need maintenance, too

The southbound I-5 rest area between Phoenix and Talent is frequently closed, probably causing much consternation for hundreds of travelers. Doesn’t seem to be any pattern for the closures, and the blocking orange closed signs never state a reason. Can you get the scoop?

— Paul W., Ashland

The SYA news desk reached out first to the Oregon Department of Transportation and then to the Oregon Travel Information Council for this one, and the likely answer is that you experienced a bit of bad luck, Paul.

First, some facts. The rest area between Phoenix and Talent has a name: Suncrest. Located near milepost 22 and accessible only by southbound drivers, the Suncrest rest area has picnic tables, drinking water, accessible facilities and vending machines.

The Suncrest rest area is supervised by Kevin Smolich of the Oregon Travel Information Council, who’s also in charge of the Manzanita rest area five miles north of Grants Pass.

According to Smolich, Suncrest closures aren’t generally random. Twice a month on Sunday evenings, it’s closed for parking lot maintenance so the lot can be swept, a task that requires a completely empty facility. Besides those cleanings, Smolich said, the rest area should only close when an essential service is out.

“The random ones, we try to limit these to very few if any for sewer or water or electrical,” Smolich said. “Electrical, we can’t do anything about. When it’s out, it’s out. They just have to be closed.”

Travelers can check on a rest stop’s availability by checking tripcheck.com/pages/rest-areas, where you can also find details about every rest area in the state (there are 58).

Send questions to “Since You Asked,” Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; or by email to youasked@rosebudmedia.com.