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Sustainable Rest Area Design and Operation

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1 Sustainable Rest Area Design and Operation
Transportation Research Board 2011 Waste Management and Resource Efficiency Workshop Portland, Oregon July 26, 2011 We as the traveling public take rest areas for granted . For many of us it is a place to take a break (day or night) from long distance driving by using the rest room facilities, walking the dog, stretching our legs, letting kids run. As the traveling public we really do not pay attention to the design and operations of rest areas. Rest areas are expensive for state departments of transportation to operate and maintain. Rest areas represent high intensity areas of energy consumption, water usage, solid waste generation and chemical usage. In light of limited state highway maintenance budgets , rest area services have been reduced or eliminated and are looking for way to reduce short and long term operating cost. The purpose of this talk is to discuss a Research and Development Project that was performed by Colorado State University-Pueblo for the Colorado Department of Transportation. To discuss how sustainability assessments were performed on rest areas and what type of observations and recommendation were made by the research team.

2 Rest areas were developed during the design and construction of the US Interstate Highway System.
Under the leadership of President Eisenhower, the question of how to fund the Interstate Highway System was resolved with enactment of the Federal-Aid Highway Act of It served as a catalyst for the Interstate Highway System's development and, ultimately, its completion. Title I of the 1956 Act increased the Interstate Highway System's proposed total length of 41,000 miles  .  Initially rest areas were called safety rest areas due to the lack of services available to the traveling public for long distances. These Safety rest areas were constructed as part of the Interstate Highway System, and were modeled after roadside parks. Rest areas were initially intended to provide minimal comfort amenities for the traveling public; generally consisting of toilet facilities, drinking water, picnic grounds and information dispersal. 

3 These Safety Rest Areas were constructed as part of the Interstate Highway System, and were modeled after roadside parks. Rest areas were initially intended to provide minimal comfort amenities for the traveling public; generally consisting of toilet facilities, drinking water, picnic grounds and information dispersal. 

4 Meeting increasing service demands has resulted in increased in maintenance and operational costs . Rest area design and function has been upgraded and modified within the past 10 years to provide the motoring public with new amenities such as air conditioning, flush toilets/urinals, security lighting, vending machines, pet walks, lighted truck parking, sewage disposal and visitor information centers. It has also resulted in increased impervious surfaces, more storm water runoff, higher potential for pollutant discharges into local water resources, more non-native grassed areas and higher intensity lighting. The recent rest area designs have become more sophisticated and energy and resource efficient. Some rest areas in North Carolina, and Virginia have been designed to obtain LEED certification .

5 Sustainable Rest Areas Study Goals
Conceptualize sustainable and renewable actions and features to rest areas Reduce rest area operation and maintenance costs. Actions that will be adopted by all CDOT Regions Conserving finite natural resources Evaluate carbon footprint and major sources Improve the visitor experience in Colorado The study goals are based upon the concept of sustainability Sustainability has been broadly defined as meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs (Brundtland Commission, United Nations, 1987). Within a transportation system context, a sustainable transportation system can be defined as achieving improvements in the natural, built and social environments while meeting the system’s functional transportation requirements. A sustainability based assessment uses a new approach and context that incorporates cost economics, environmental and social elements into rest area operations. The main focus for this project was the efficient use of finite resources that include energy, water, materials, and environmental resources (water, air, biological) A main incentive for the project is an increased awareness of climate change and efficient resource consumption by the State of Colorado as a result of Governor Ritter’s Executive Orders D , D and D that requires State agency achievement by 2010/2011 (Ritter, 2007): 20% reduction in energy consumption 25% reduction in petroleum consumption 10% reduction in water consumption Zero goal for solid waste generation Obtain fuel efficient vehicles Certify new buildings as United States Green Building Council LEED Silver Rating Increase purchasing and use of environmentally friendly products

6 Methodology Selected six CDOT rest areas
Team members assigned rest areas Literature search of sustainable actions Developed field evaluation checklists Materials and Reuse/Recycling Environment/Site Conditions Air Quality Water Quality/Usage Energy Public/Motorist/Trucking Outreach Created a rest area database Performed rest area sustainability scoring Data review and report development Team members assigned rest areas Each team member assigned 3 rest areas of each rest area type These team members coordinated closely with CDOT Maintenance Representatives The Research Team performed a literature search of rest area sustainable actions from other state DOTs and professional organizations The next step involved the development of field evaluation check lists . The development of these checklists were influenced by the checklist approach used LEED building certifications and other checklist approaches such as the NYDOT GreenLITES program

7 Project Rest Areas Sterling Rest Area Visitor Center/Region 4/Plains
Poudre Rest Area Adjacent to Visitor Center/Region 4/Plains Vail Pass Rest Area Recreational Rest Area/Region 3/Mountain Pass Area Hanging Lake Rest Area Recreational Rest Area/Region 3/Canyon Area El Moro Rest Area Basic Services/Region 2/Plains Area Cortez Rest Area Basic Services/Region 5/Desert CDOT currently owns and operates 32 rest areas throughout Colorado (Appendix A). These facilities are visited by thousands of travelers every year, offering temporary parking for cars, recreational vehicles (RVs), and semi-trailer trucks. For many first-time visitors to Colorado, highways and their rest areas create a strong first impression of the State. CDOT is concerned about the increasing costs of maintaining rest area services and operations at high standards in light of tight maintenance budgets. Six rest areas were selected as representative of 3 types of rest areas; Visitor Centers, Recreational and Basic Services . Two rest areas for each type were selected to comprise a group of rest areas that collectively met the following criteria: Rest area classified as either Visitor Centers, Recreational and Basic Services rest areas, At least one rest area resides within every CDOT Region (except CDOT Region 6 since no rest areas exist), and At least one rest area resides within each type of eco-region (desert, mountains, canyon, and plains).



10 Vail Pass Rest Area The Vail Pass Rest Area is located on Interstate 70 at mile marker 190 on top of Vail Pass (elevation 10,666 feet). The rest area is in Eagle County and located on the southern side of Interstate 70 adjacent to Shine Pass Road.  The rest area is above tree line and is characterized as a sub-alpine zone by Engelmann spruce, bristle cone pine, lodge pole pine and aspen. The occurrence of Ten Mile Creek, beaver dams, wetlands and fragile riparian vegetation makes this a very sensitive environment adjacent to the rest area. The rest area was constructed in 1980 and is open year round 24 hours a day with a yearly visitation of approximately 680,000 people; by far the most visited of the Project rest areas. It is a unique rest area since it receives large amounts of tourist and recreational traffic in both the summer and winter; bicyclists and tourists in the summer and skiers and snowmobilers in the winter.  The rest area property is owned by the USFS and leased to CDOT. Any CDOT rest area improvements or changes that affect the area aesthetics must be approved by the USFS

11 Hanging Lake Rest Area The Hanging Lake Rest Area is located on Interstate 70 at mile marker 124. The rest area is in Garfield County and located in Glenwood Canyon adjacent to the Colorado River (elevation 6,155 feet). The rest area is located in a canyon eco-zone area. Annually, the rest area is visited by more than 73,000 motorists, tourists, hikers, and bicyclists primarily to access the Hanging Lake Trail. The rest area was closed to the public from May 1, 2010 to September 6, 2010 due to United States Forest Service (USFS) construction on the popular Hanging Lake Trail. The Hanging Lake Rest Area is comprised of four acres and is operated and maintained by one CDOT maintenance representative. The actual rest area property is owned by the USFS and leased to CDOT. Any CDOT rest area improvements or changes that change the area aesthetics must be approved by the USFS.

12 Sterling Rest Area The Sterling Rest Area is located 1 mile west of Interstate 76 (I-76) at mile marker 125. The rest area is located within the city limits of Sterling, Colorado (elevation 4,040 feet) in Logan County. The Sterling Rest Area is characterized as a Visitor Center rest area that represents the more complex, visitor center type rest area. A visitor center operated and maintained by CDOT is contained within the main restroom building. The visitor center, supported by volunteers, provides travelers with road maps and regional and State tourism information. The rest area comprised of seven acres is located in a semi-arid grassland region based upon the type of native vegetation and precipitation. The rest area is visited by approximately 384,000 people every year. The rest area was constructed in 2000 and is open 24 hours a day for seven days a week, all year. The rest area accommodates large amounts of freight trucks due to a large parking area for commercial vehicles and available restroom services. The Sterling Rest Area is located at the critical location where Interstate 76 is routinely shut down due to winter storms and provides important services to cars and trucks during these storm events.

13 El Moro Rest Area The El Moro Rest Area is located on Interstate 25 (I-25) at mile marker 17 just north of Trinidad, Colorado (approximate elevation of 6,025 feet). The rest area is located on the western side of Interstate 25 on County Road 71 in Las Animas County. The El Moro Rest Area is a basic services rest area that provides only basic services to the traveling public. The rest area was built in 2000 and is open year round 24 hours a day, seven days a week with a yearly visitation of approximately 328,500 people. There is a broad mixture of wildlife at the rest area such as deer, elk, raptors, snakes and coyotes. El Moro is an important rest area since it is the first rest area encountered when entering Colorado from New Mexico on Interstate 25 and provides the traveler a first impression of Colorado. El Moro Rest Area is the first rest area that travelers encounter when entering CO from New Mexico on Interstate 25. It is maintained by CDOT Region 2 and is considered a Basic Services Rest Area. One of the main features of the rest area El Moro uses innovative stormwater best management practices using wetlands. (as shown in bottom left picture) This is good sustainable actions.

14 Poudre Rest Area The Poudre Rest Area is located southwest of the Prospect Road and Interstate 25 interchange at mile marker 268, on the southeast portion of Fort Collins, Colorado (elevation 5,003 feet). The rest area is characterized as a Tier I rest area that represents the more complex visitor center type rest area. The rest area is located in a semi-arid grassland region based upon the type of native vegetation and precipitation. The rest area is open year round, 24 hours a day, seven days a week with a yearly visitation of approximately 122,000 people. The Poudre Rest Area is adjacent and separate from a State of Colorado Visitor Center (not directly operated by CDOT) that helps generate visitor visits to the rest area. The rest area is located next to a sensitive wildlife corridor that is located less than one mile away from the Poudre River. The rest area receives large amounts of semi-trailer trucks year round due to a large parking area and restroom services. Unique to the Poudre Rest Area is a kiosk located inside the restroom building that allows for motorists and trucking professionals to check current road conditions and access many CDOT weather cameras throughout Colorado. This Rest Area does well with environmental sustainability. The rest area has open fences and areas of uncut native veg. which provides consistent habitat and corridors for wildlife. Also, the rest area practices sustainable actions by having excellent stormwater best management practices by having retention pond

15 Sleeping Ute Mountain Rest Area
The Sleeping Ute Mountain Rest Area is located on US Highway 60 at mile marker 46.4 and is about six miles east of Cortez, Colorado (elevation 6,200 feet). The rest area is in Montezuma County and located on the northern side of US Highway 60 directly north of Mesa Verde National Park. Unique to this rest area is a long walking path through the Juniper and Pinon Pine forest that is adjacent to Bureau of Land Management property. This rest area has a total area of 10.4 acres that is dominated by native vegetation and occupied by approximately 820 Juniper and Pinon Pine trees. The rest area was constructed in the 1970s and improved retrofitted in It is open year round 24 hours a day, seven day a week with annual average visitation of approximately 65,700 people.

16 The checklist was comprehensive and contained 124 evaluation criteria that was filled out for each Project Rest Area. This collage give you an idea of the actions the team reviewed during the onsite evaluations

17 Carbon Footprint Scope 1- Direct Emissions Scope 2- Indirect Emissions
Scope 3- Other Indirect Emissions Using GHG Protocol methodology Carbon footprinting 6 project rest areas Estimated for all CDOT rest areas combined Direct Emissions are related to actual combustion of fossil fuels on site associated with the operations of the area Indirect Emission are related to emissions that occur at a different location (electrical consumption) Other Indirect Emissions are those emissions not directly under the control of the rest area operations (truck idling) The calculation approach used was developed called the Greenhouse Gas Protocol developed by the World Resource Institute The calculation multiplies and emission factor by the total amount of fuel combusted and multiplied by a greenhouse gas potential factor

18 Carbon Footprint Results
Sterling = 3,006 metric tons CO2e/year. Poudre = 2,517 metric tons CO2e /year El Moro = 2,281 metric tons CO2e/year Vail Pass = 886 metric tons CO2 e /year Hanging Lake = 143 metric tons CO2e /year Sleeping Ute Mountain = 73 metric tons CO2e/year Estimated rest area emission= 36,394 metric tons CO2e/year The Visitor centers have the largest carbon footprint due to truck idling and high electrical consumption (Lighting) El Moro’s carbon footprint was high due to the high amount of trucks that idle overnight Vail Pass footprint was from high electrical usage due to rest area heating and waste treatment operations Hanging Lake has no truck idling and the footprint is due to rest area heating and waste treatment operations The total rough carbon footprint estimate for all 32 CDOT rest areas is 36, 394 metric tons CO2e/year Truck idling is a high contributor of the carbon footprint and could be reduced by imposing restrictions and providing electrification to trucks

19 18





24 Study Rest Area Sustainability Rating
Sustainable Scoring Elements Total Poudre Sterling Cortez El Moro Hanging Lake Vail Total Materials and Reuse Score 13 3 6 5 1 Total Environment/Site Conditions 25 9 10 7 14 Total Air Quality 2 Total Water Quality/Usage 21 Total Energy 30 11 Total Public/Motorist/Truckingn Outreach 4 Innovation Score Total Sustainable Scoring 117 33 35 32 31 37

25 Cost Effective Actions
Water Conservation Conduct audits Track water usage Evaluate urinal/toilet flushing volumes Explore waterless urinals ($) Explore water harvesting ($) Reduce lawn irrigation (or eliminate) Modify landscaping Reduce lawn areas (reduces mowing) Native vegetation (reduces water) Increase number of trees (carbon and shading)

26 Cost Effective Actions
Electricity Movement sensors for interior LED lighting Timers/sensors for parking area lights Over lighting versus security Energy Star Hand Dryers Evaluate if air condition really needed Natural ventilation/tree shading Alternative Energy Options Solar Heat Pumps

27 Cost Effective Actions
Hot Water Heating Determine if really needed On demand heating Solar hot water heating Solid Waste Management Compaction ($) Recycling program Evaluate need for soda vending machines Compost/mulch grass clippings

28 Other Sustainable Actions
Community Involvement Recycling Volunteering/Holiday Coffee Local Information Signage Potential Partnerships Environmental Buffer zones Integrated Noxious Weed Management Green Procurement Purchasing Idling Restrictions for trucks

29 Rest Area Sustainability/Alternative Energy in CDOT ROW
Rest Area Sustainability/Alternative Energy in CDOT ROW If you have any comments or questions, feel free to contact Art Hirsch from TerraLogic at or at Art Hirsch-TerraLogic

30 Vail Pass Rest Area Observations/Recommendations
Rest room area built into hill; innovative design No irrigation for landscaping; native vegetation maintained Use State of Colorado Procurement listing of “green-low VOC” chemicals for cleaning, painting and adhesives Develop stormwater/snow best management practices Install light intensity detectors to reduce daytime lighting Provide signage to the public to educate them on the sustainable operation of the rest area and environmental sensitivity Vail rest area scored the highest in sustainability points The rest room area is built into a hill side that conserves electric generated heat during the winter and keeps it cool during the summer The rest area does not irrigate lawn areas The rest area is near the headwaters of Ten Mile Creek and stormwater/snow management practices should be performed to protect water quality

31 Hanging Lake Rest Area Observations/Recommendations
Water conservation studies (rest rooms, lawn irrigation) Native vegetation as a buffer from Colorado River Transition blue grass to a xeriscape landscaping Eliminate the routine application of fertilizers and herbicide Provide waste recycling containers to public Install stormwater/snow best management practices 3 Urinals flush 1.6 gpf each automatically every 10 minutes Native vegetation used as a buffer from the Colorado River CDOT and USFS routinely fertilize and spray herbicides on lawn area Blue grass landscaping uses high amount of water Protect water quality by instituting stormwater best management practices

32 Sterling Rest Area Observations/Recommendations
Perform water conservation study Reduce landscape watering of buffalo grass Use mulch mowers to reduce solid waste Only rest area to offer recycling to public Uses electric vehicle for maintenance activities Reduce long term truck parking and idling from CDOT rest areas; evaluate truck electrification Evaluate use of waterless urinals to conserve water Sterling consume more water than any other rest area (10 million gallons at a cost of $14,000 annually); the water is purchased from the local municipality Water irrigation of blue grass should be reduced that will result reduce water usage and mowing. Fertilizers routinely used to green up the grass Only rest area to recycle glass and plastic containers Electrification could be considered that allow trucks to shut off engines and plug into an electrical outlet to power heaters, air conditioning and computers Only rest area to use a electric vehicle (modified golf car) to perform routine maintenance Waterless urinals are a cost effective approach in reducing water consumption and costs; especially at rest areas that purchase water from off site sources

33 Sleeping Ute Mountain Rest Area Observations/Recommendations
Reduce toilets/urinals flushing volumes Plant additional vegetation in sparse areas Landscape with native species or xeriscape Eliminate the routine use of fertilizer and herbicide on lawn Motion detector in rest area to conserve energy The toilets use 2 gallons of water per flush (which is the 2nd highest of all project rest areas) this is an excessive amount of water that increases the amtount of water used and purchased Vegetation is sparse in areas surrounding the rest room building and picnic areas. This exposed top soil is susceptible to wind and rain erosion—this will provide better plant density and soil stability and reduce the amount of sediment in stormwater There is a 900 ft2 of bluegrass surrounding the rest room building that is irrigated 3-4 times a week. – the lawn can be replaced with high desert vegetation that is native to the area or combined with other landscape features to form a xeriscape garden. This will reduce operating costs by eliminating lawn irrigation The 900sqft lawn has fertilizer/herbicide applications. Is seems more fitting of lawn size mechanical removal or spot spraying should be reused to remove noxious weeds. Fertilizers and herbicides have an negative impact on the environment – they are persistent and toxic in nature Recycling containers will reduce the amount of solid waste produced and costs by decreasing waste pickup frequency. This rest area practices sustainable actions by reducing its electricity consumption by having motion sensors to initiate nighttime lighting in the rest rooms.

34 El Moro Rest Area Observations/Recommendations
Place restrictions on idling times or provide electrification Transition from bluegrass to xeriscape landscaping Provide recycling containers Reduce mowing of native plants east of walking path Evaluate waterless urinals and water harvesting There is a high amount of commercial trucking vehicles (14 a day) that use the rest area over night and idle. To reduce the amount greenhouse gases emitted from idling trucks, restrictions on idling lengths times could be implemented and electrical hookups could be installed El Moro has a total of 18 trash cans and produces 3 cubic yards of waste per day. Recycling containers can could be provided to reduce that amount of solid waste. Large area of native plants east of the walking path that is mowed. By stopping or reducing the mowing of this area, will reduce labor and fuels needs and also improve wildlife habitat This rest area has large areas of non-native grass lawns(1.3 acres) that require watering everyday in the summer. The lawn size could be reduced by planting native grass/plants or using Xeriscape landscaping This waterless urinals and water harvesting should be considered for this rest area

35 Poudre Rest Area Observations/Recommendations
Provide recycling containers Place restrictions on idling times or provide electrical hookups Reduce water amounts in toilets/urinals Open fencing promotes wildlife mobility Landscape with native vegetation or xeriscape Evaluate alternative energy options Waste Management removes large amounts of solid waste because of the high amount of commercial and public vehicles that use this rest area. This will reduce solid waste amounts and landfill costs The 9 acres of lawn (both native and non-native) is mowed and the clippings are bagged. This increases the amount of solid waste that is take to the landfill. The grass clippings should be mulched or composted on site to decrease the solid waste produced and costs. Mulched grass conserves moisture, and lessens the need for pesticides. There is a high number of idling trucks also at this rest area (15 per night). This causes a large amount of greenhouse emissions. Idling restrictions signs could be posted or electrical hookups provided. This will reduce greenhouse gas emission and will reduce the rest area’s carbon footprint. The amount of water use for toilet flushing at the Poudre Rest Area was the highest for all of the Project Rest Areas (2.5 gal). This seems excessive compared to the other project rest areas. This increases the amount of domestic water and wastewater usage, thus increasing operational costs. Also urinals (0.5 gal) could be changed to waterless. By reducing water use in both toilets and urinal, the cost will decrease b/c CDOT pays for both incoming water and outgoing wastewater. Also Fort Collins, has stormwater management fees that are based on the amount of water purchased. Rest areas has 2 acres of land that is receives fertilizers , herbicides, irrigation and mowing. It is reasonable to assume Poudre has a high overall water consumption because the lawn is irrigated 3 times a week. Use alternative landscaping. Heat floors are an unnecessary and when eliminated will reduce electrical energy use. Poudre Rest Area has large amounts of unused land to the west of the rest area building and the building’s roof that could be used for photo voltaic panels

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