On Grand Opening Day, the beautiful facility situated on the North side of Interstate 30 at Cumby, Texas was populated, not only with visitors, but with employees of Texas Dept. of Transportation, or TxDOT. I was greeted by designers, building contractors, District engineers and others who had gathered to meet the public and enjoy the finished product of more than two years of hard work.
As I entered the park area, cones and barricades which had blocked public access for the past several months were being removed, opening the way for drivers to enter the North Side rest area, and later in the afternoon, the South Side rest area. Part of the past ten years of design and planning of this new breed of rest area is pairing “twin constructions” along north/south as well as along east/west Interstates in Texas. Research done to determine placement and location of the rest areas is based, in part, on calculations for driver fatigue as a benefit for passenger cars, business drivers and long-haul truck traffic. Right now, there are between 15 and 20 of the new rest areas across the state, and more are in various phases of construction. As they are completed, they will replace older rest areas, as has been done locally with the closing of the roadside rest stop in the western edge of Franklin County along I-30.
As each of the new rest centers is designed, the natural terrain and local culture is considered. Wildlife, woodlands and natural water features are studied, then illustrated inside the rest area for visitors to enjoy. These may be interactive kiosks, video screens and even works of art which depict the locale. Design research even includes polling the local population to find out what makes their area unique and interesting. The new Cumby Rest Areas feature trees, taken from the fact that the town was once called Black Jack Grove and is situated on a Post Oak Savannah. A life-like representation of a huge tree is located in the center of the main lobby, with a bench and educational kiosk inside. Other features in the main lobby are constructed of field stone and wood. Outdoors you’ll find a playground and climbing feature for the youngsters, attractively landscaped.
Of course, there are restrooms, drinking fountains and seating areas inside the lobby, and safety for travelers using the center has a high priority. There is a tornado shelter located inside which can hold up to 50 persons. Security is top priority, with mounted cameras that document foot traffic inside and at the picnic pavilions out on the grounds, as well as all the parking lots, entrances and exits. Security and maintenance personal will be on duty at all times, and the presence of law enforcement presence is encouraged in the center. A “hospitality” office for visiting law enforcement was included in the plans, allowing a secure place for Texas Rangers, Highway Patrol, Sheriff’s Department and local police to stop and take a break, or do necessary computer work while they are in the area.
The TxDot officials invite you to take some time in the near future to visit the state-of-the-art Texas Rest Area located in Hopkins County along Interstate 30 at Cumby, Texas. Even if you’re not traveling, families are welcome to bring a picnic and enjoy the sights and features at both the North and South units, which are similar but not identical.