You might think of NCDOT crews tackling jobs such as patching or paving, but there’s also plumbing. Workers are focusing on making the I-40 rest areas in Haywood County more water efficient.
“With an increase in travelers coming through this summer, we want to make sure there’s enough supply to meet the demand,” says Richard Queen, roadside environmental engineer with the North Carolina Department of Transportation.
The eastbound North Carolina Welcome Center and westbound rest area, nestled in the Pisgah National Forest near the Tennessee border, are unique for more than their scenic surroundings.
“Those facilities are 15 miles away from the nearest municipal water system,” says Queen. “We have to use six wells that pump into a reservoir to serve both sides.”
Crews are working to keep those reservoir levels up. That means isolating some flush valves, and replacing fixtures that are using more water than they should. The work may occasionally require one of the two rest areas to temporarily close. “We want to get that reservoir as full as we can going into weekends,” says Queen, “when we know there are even more people coming through.”
For westbound travelers, the next closest rest area is the Tennessee Welcome Center, 15 miles away. Eastbound travelers who continue through Asheville will come to another rest area on I-40 near Marion, or on I-26 East just beyond the Asheville Regional Airport.