Story by Matthew Parks, Staff writer
Beaver Dam rest stop, a popular welcome center along Western Kentucky Parkway, shutdown on Jan. 8th with plans to reopen in the future, resulting in more than a dozen job losses.
While initially employees of the rest stop said the shutdown would be permanent, the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet released a statement on the day of the facility’s closure that the shutdown would actually be temporary, and that they planned on reopening the facility as soon as possible.
Many Western Kentucky residents have come to view this rest stop as a staple over the years, as is evidenced by the influx of posts on the rest stop’s Facebook page mourning the shutdown. Beaver Dam was a popular stop not only for locals, but also for many Murray State students that utilized the facility when traveling to and from their hometowns.
Students from the Lexington and Louisville metro areas frequent the stop, as it marks the halfway point of the trip and is one of the few rest stops available.
Hayley Morford, senior from Lexington, Kentucky, said she stops at Beaver Dam almost every time she travels home, and was there just days ago on her way back from winter break.
“I can’t believe that the rest stop is shut down even temporarily,” Morford said. “It was an extremely convenient place to stop on my way back home, and it was great to be able to pull off and get gas or food without having to get off the interstate and search for a gas station in a town you’re not familiar with.”
In a statement about the facility, Asa James Swan, chief of staff for the KTYC, said, “The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet is currently in a bidding process. After the current vendor turned in an incomplete application, the Cabinet was forced to actively begin seeking a new one for the Beaver Dam rest area. We are eager to get a new contract in place to reopen this popular rest area as soon as possible.”
While the KYTC release said reopening the facility is a priority for them, there is currently no timeline or estimated date for the reopening of the facility.
The closure came about due to an agreement with the location’s vendor expiring, according to the KYTC statement, which forced the state department to close the location until drawing up a contract with a new vendor due to “liability issues.”
Employees at Beaver Dam were only given a two day notice before the facility shutdown, resulting in outrage from the employees.
Vickie Morris, formerly a shift manager at the rest stop, said 13 employees worked at the facility and all lost their jobs upon closure with no word about when the facility might reopen.
“For me, it’s devastating,” Morris said. “We all try to make a living. And to say in two days, ‘Hey, you’re not going to have a job,’ what are we supposed to do? We can’t file for unemployment until our last day and it sometimes takes three weeks to a month to file. People have bills to pay.”
The Arby’s restaurant attached to the rest stop was also closed down, but a representative from Arby’s could not be reached about the job losses or whether the restaurant will reopen with the rest stop in the future.
The KYTC did not address the job losses and whether or not former employees would be re-hired upon reopening in their statement Sunday.
Food and gasoline is available nearby at U.S. 231 Beaver Dam exit 75.