Review of Interstate Restroom Planning

You are driving down the Interstate in rural America and will notice the food, gas station, and hotel signs at certain exits. Often, they revolve around towns or cities. From experience, some gas stations are preferable to others and I’m not just speaking of gas costs. Often, these gas stations provide gas, snacks, drinks and restroom facilities. The interesting thing I’ve seen over the years is many of these restrooms are small, inadequate and not always clean.

Last year, we stopped at a brand new gas station in Eastern Colorado directly off Interstate 70 to get gas and use their restrooms. It was not what we expected. First, I pumped gas as my wife and two daughters used the women’s restroom. As I was finishing, they loudly complained about a line for the women’s restroom with only one toilet. What planning? I then went inside to use the men’s room and noticed there was an Out of Order sign on it. What do I do? There are three women waiting outside the women’s restroom and the men’s restroom was out of order. It would have been too awkward of me to wait in that line so I searched for another…

Is it poor planning to have 16 available pumps at a gas station but only one toilet in each restroom? At some of these gas stations, you have 15 or more cars, including minivans and SUVs simultaneously pumping gas and parents with kids travelling significant distances. Could we plan and design all rural gas stations to have at least two toilets for men and women? In addition, having two toilets in each restroom will provide some flexibility in case one is out of order.

Some of these gas stations are in rural areas of the country with few or no Interstate rest stops, so there is a very strong chance that those motorists traveling through will need the facilities when they stop for gas.

Years ago, I would see signs at gas stations claiming they have clean restrooms. I want to continue to see such a sign but should add, sufficient restroom facilities! When folks stop at a rural gas station for gas, chances are some of those in the car will need to use the facilities. It’s sometimes a quick stop and they want to fulfill all of their needs with just one stop.