christine stuart / ctnewsjunkie file photo
Wallingford Rest Area with a sign displaying the current hours of operation for the indoor facilities. (christine stuart / ctnewsjunkie file photo)

HARTFORD, CT — Connecticut’s seven highway rest areas will be open 24 hours a day again starting Monday, just in time for the Fourth of July holiday.

Staffing levels at the facilities — located on interstates 84 and 91 as well as one on 95 — had been reduced on October 1, 2016, in response to budget cuts, limiting the seven locations to a single-shift, daytime operation.

While the rest areas technically remained “open” around the clock, the indoor facilities were closed to the public for the remaining two evening and overnight shifts, necessitating the use of outdoor portable restroom facilities during unstaffed hours.

Gov. Ned Lamont quipped Thursday that Connecticut will no longer welcome tourists and visitors with “A Royal Flush” and instead will give them the dignity of using an indoor restroom.

“While certainly well-intentioned, I believe the move to shut our state’s rest areas was penny wise and pound foolish,” Lamont said Friday. “We have to make the necessary investments to attract people to visit and return to our state. This is a small but meaningful step toward making Connecticut more attractive to visitors and our residents alike.”

Sen. Cathy Osten, D-Sprague, said she was happy to add the money to the state budget for the rest areas.

“Re-opening these rest stops has not only been supported by the public for obvious reasons but by the trucking industry, local chambers of commerce — even the Connecticut Airport Authority,” Osten said. “We need rest stops open 24/7 for truckers to take federally mandated breaks, for families and individuals traveling overnight to make a safe stop, and for the convenience of all travelers during daylight hours. I was happy to place the funds for these rest stop re-openings in the state budget, and I’m pleased that my Democratic colleagues and Governor Lamont saw fit to support that.”

christine stuart / ctnewsjunkie
A portable restroom from A Royal Flush at the rest stop on the eastbound side of I-84 in Willington (christine stuart / ctnewsjunkie)

The money for the rest areas was part of the two-year, $43.35 billion budget Lamont signed into law this week.

The seven rest areas are in the following locations:

• I-84 Danbury EB past Exit 2
• I-84 Southington EB past Exit 28
• I-84 Willington EB past Exit 69
• I-84 Willington WB past Exit 70
• I-91 Wallingford SB past Exit 15
• I-91 Middletown NB past Exit 19
• I-95 North Stonington SB past Exit 93

The “rest areas” are not the only facilities available on the state’s highways. Throughout the period that the seven specifically designated rest areas have been without staffing, the state’s 23 public-private partner Service Plazas have remained open for business on interstates 95 and 395 and Route 15.