Some rest areas in Michigan may soon offer more than a toilet - WNEM TV 5

Some rest areas in Michigan may soon offer much more than a toilet

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Some Michigan rest areas could serve a dual purpose if an idea falls in place. 

Just imagine doing your business, and then grabbing a burger or other fast food all at one stop.

Michigan Department of Transportation Director Kirk Steudle said it might be possible soon. The state is considering privatizing and commercializing certain rest areas in the state.

TV5 spoke to many people heading 'Up North' Thursday night at a rest area just north of Clare along US-127. Many had mixed opinions when it came to the possible commercializing of some rest areas in the state. 

Brian Mancini is from Croswell and was on his way to the Great Escape Motor Lodge in Higgins Lake Thursday. He said the idea makes sense, kind of.

"It would save the state a lot of money if they were privatized, but I do like the rest stops in Michigan, they are nice," said Mancini.

Steudle said that's why the state is exploring this option, in an attempt to save state cash.  The idea floating around targets two rest stops on the northern part of US-127 near Houghton Lake. The state put out feelers to see if there's any interest for companies to open up restaurants at the sites or possibly buy advertising space or naming rights.

The state hopes this idea might help maintain some of the rest areas while state funding continues to decline.

"On a toll roll, it's a no brainer. Without that, I don't know if it'll work. But I don't necessarily want to try just anything like throwing darts at a board, I'd hope it'd be very well thought out," said Canton resident Marc Ditullio.

And while there's some hesitation with this idea, others just flat out say leave them as they are.

"For me, I stop to go to the bathroom, fill up my water, and go. So it wouldn't make much difference for me," said Mary Haas, who was heading to the Upper Peninsula Thursday night.

Private involvement will be discussed during the next few weeks. Commercializing Interstates, like Interstate 75, will not happen because federal law bars it. But the state can privatize rest areas along other state roads, like US-127 or US-23.

The state is also considering looking at privatizing freeway lights, bridge construction, and timber management along state highways.

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