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  1. I've been a road tripper my whole life and have spent time at many rest areas across the US. I agree that our rest areas are more simple than in most other states (even Mississippi has some pretty nice welcome centers). I'm also a huge proponent of uplifting design standards in urban and suburban settings. And I believe that we have an obligation as a state to roll out the welcome mat to visitors. All of that said, it's ludicrous to propose that we take on higher costs to make more architecturally significant rest stops. Like others, I tend to stop at exits where I can get fuel and food and use the restrooms there. These are becoming less used over time. Replacing them with new simple structures is exactly what we should be doing. Do we need to ensure greater cleanliness? Sure. But I've also been to a number of third world countries, and your comment about our rest stops being just a 'tick' above those is gross dramatization. People defecate in ditches next to their front doors in those countries; rest stops are unheard of. Public restrooms in the countries I've been to in Africa often don't have toilet paper, let alone someone who lives in the maintenance closet running a dirty mop around once an hour. At least we have that. So let's focus our energy and tax dollars on more important things: fixing the roads, fixing our schools, and better public transit. Save the good design discussion for the places where people actually live and work.

  2. LifeLongIndy, I didn't move to Carmel from Bloomington, but if that is your none-too-subtle way of branding me a "liberal", then you're certainly not paving the way for a solution. As for other cities that have 10% agricultural, there are quite a few--mostly in the South, though Kansas City is among them as well. Judging from my experience working in Jackson, MS or from visiting Nashville, they have the same complaints about "outrageous density" as soon as you exceed 4 Dwelling Units per acre. My original question still stands: if you think Carmel is dense, why not try moving to the remaining 95% (or 97%) of Indiana's land that is characterized by vast farmsteads, houses with big yards, a complete absence of sidewalks or means to get anywhere except by car, and no real effort to change that character by making it a community of any distinction? Would Carmel be achieving recognition as "Best Place to Live" from various media sources if it hadn't engaged in these initiatives? If Carmel is too innovative and too fashionable for you, move out to Avon or Danville or Greenfield or Cicero and shut the door behind you. You have plenty of options. And, if "everything's better in Indiana", why does it seem such a disproportionate number of our college graduates aren't convinced?

  3. Rick...nice typo (lisping Bruce) can't avoid making a commentary on gay even when then article has nothing to do with it, can you figure out a way to work "activist Judge's" in too?...Rick's definition of "waste of taxpayer dollars" is any usage he doesn't personally agree with, as if there were no other taxpayers but him... the rest areas are dumps period...they aren't even clean...they speak volumes about our state, they scream apathy and government can say you are making the state an attractive climate for business (low taxes, blah, blah) all you want, but if infrastructure isn't maintained, if there are obvious signs of deterioration, no one is coming..."go fix up a blighted urban area"...that's you would approve of your tax dollars going for that.

  4. I took Bruce's comments to highlight a glaring issue when it comes to a state's image, and therefore its overall branding. An example is Michigan vs. Indiana. Michigan has done an excellent job of following through on its branding strategy around "Pure Michigan", even down to the detail of the rest stops. Since a state's branding is often targeted to visitors, it makes sense that rest stops, being that point of first impression, should be significant. It is clear that Indiana doesn't care as much about the impression it gives visitors even though our branding as the Crossroads of America does place importance on travel. Bruce's point is quite logical and accurate.

  5. I appreciated the article. I guess I have become so accustomed to making my "pit stops" at places where I can ALSO get gasoline and something hot to eat, that I hardly even notice public rest stops anymore. That said, I do concur with the rationale that our rest stops (if we are to have them at all) can and should be both fiscally-responsible AND designed to make a positive impression about our state.