07 December 2008

Internet on the Interstate: Safety Rest Area in Texas

"Bell County Safety Rest Area, Southbound" is the new roadside facility (Fall 2008) located on I-35 heading south, halfway between Waco and Austin, Texas. The architecture resembles a grist mill. But better looking.

Historical information is on display and so is practical information for this part of the country. A storm shelter is located near the restrooms, complete with sitting benches and photographs of tornadoes and storms.

Lobby seating area (see photo above) includes perfectly placed electrical outlets—you know what they mean. Yes, Texas rest areas and travel information centers provide free wireless Internet access. And convenient electric for your laptop. The computer network name is Texas Safety Rest Area Free Wifi, and it opens with the TexTreks Web portal. There's even a toll-free help line: (866) 532-5235.

The TxDOT web site gives this reason for providing wi-fi at rest areas: "Wireless Internet service is provided to help drivers fight fatigue, a major cause of auto accidents. The service encourages drivers to make regular stops and return to the road rested and alert."

It's not all about wi-fi, though. New and renovated rest areas are designed to promote exercise (via walking paths), safe roadside stops (security systems and cameras are well advertised), road information (with maps, road condition reports, and weather updates). Federal funding helped make these rest areas possible.

On a personal note: Tom Bold and I spent more time exploring this rest area than we have ever spent at a roadside facility. In short, TxDOT met its goal: get drivers out of their cars to "refresh." We didn't actually boot up a computer but having spotted the electrical outlets at the table, we did wonder out loud if wi-fi were in the house. We reached for iPhones nearly simultaneously. We couldn't get a clean photo of the network name on a phone screen, though, which led to another distraction: is a screenshot possible on a cell phone?

© 2008 Mary Bold, PhD, CFLE. The content of this blog or related web sites created by Mary Bold (www.marybold.com, www.boldproductions.com, College Intern Blog) is not under any circumstances to be regarded as professional, legal, financial, or medical advice. Or education advice. Or marital advice. Or even a tip.

1 comment:

lil chef said...

There's a great new rest area on US 59 at Seven Oaks (in the way to Houston) too. Makes me want to travel in Texas! This after Louisiana decided to close their rest areas. There is only one left on I-20 across the entire state. No more "welcome centers" either.