You Ask. We Investigate. ® Whitewater Rest Area Closed Again

You Ask. We Investigate. ® Whitewater Rest Area Closed Again

Martín Di Felice

Whitewater, CA

Truck drivers depend on rest stops. 

"If there’s not a safe place to park and you pull over to the side of the road or something like that then, you’re creating a safety hazard," says Eric Rutledge who has been driving a big rig for nearly a decade.

For truckers rest is critical. 

"It’s very important …  we’re constantly driving and we need our 10 hour break," says Robert Rios, who says he’s only been driving a rig since January but already knows the value of a good rest stop.

Rutledge says for truckers, rest isn’t a luxury it’s mandated, "The government requires us to take periods of rest at certain time within eight hours." 

Interstate 10 is part of the National Freight Corridor crossing eight states. Caltrans says over three thousand trucks travel through the valley everyday, making the Whitewater Rest Area is one drivers need.  

"They’re important, we need them to stop, we can’t just pull over on the side of the road and these have been closed for I don’t know how long," says Marty, who was fueling up his truck at the Flying J rest stop. 

But it’s been closed off and on for years. Caltrans says the reason it’s closed is they’ve had ongoing issues with their water pump, this creates high levels of bacteria in the water, it was replaced less than two years ago, but now the new one failed too. 

Caltrans District 8 sent us the following explanation:
"We have a contractor in place on the emergency contract and they have been working (when weather permits) at the rest area to replace the pump.  A new pump is on order. There is also electrical and earthwork included in the contract scope and cost, which is in the amount of $40,000.00. The new pump will cost approximately $15-$20,000 and is also included in the contract."

They’re in the process of installing a new one but repairs will take a few months, and are trying to get the manufacturer to cover the new faulty pump.

Still the explanation is frustrating for those who need a safe place to pull over.

"They say they’re closed for repairs I never seen anybody in there repairing them but they’re closed everyday," says Marty.

"Keep them open and build more," says Rutledge.