The number of major rest areas with 24-hour toilets will be increased from 50 to 150, Liv Øvstedal, chief engineer of the Norwegian Public Roads Administration, told Dagsavisen.
– A good first step, but the Swedish Road Administration could easily set higher ambitions than that, says Per Roger Lauridsen.
On the road to NAF and DNT
These days, Lauridsen is based in Trøndelag, NAF – Norwegian Automobile Association. He is the author of NAF’s road books – “Norway’s most complete travel guide”, according to NAF.
– The next edition will come out in March 2024 and I will have to travel for a while to prepare these books, says Lauridsen.
He has driven across Norway for NAF for 12 years now. Before that, he had seen “many mountains and valleys” during his years working for DNT – The Norwegian Tourist Association.
– So for a total of 40 years I have been traveling around Norway as a job, says Lauridsen.
– How did you experience the toilet facilities provided by the National Road Administration?
– Based on my own experience, I think there are very few rest areas and all of them should have toilets. Along the way, I missed both a good rest area and a ditto toilet several times, Lauritzen replied.
– but I also noted with pleasure that the Swedish road administration seems to have built many such nice facilities in recent years. I hope they continue it, he added.
Improvements are currently underway. New toilet facilities are being built at the Lora and Bjorli rest areas west of the E136 in Lesja. The old toilet facilities were demolished late last fall, but motorists will have to start going to the toilet again in the “summer season”.
Major rest areas
Here is the National Roads Administration’s overview of most of today’s major rest areas on European and national roads with year-round toilets (the National Roads Administration refers to the 2019 list, which is why the old district names are used):
Østfold: Solbergtårnet tourist area (E6).
Westfold: Vassbottenbrua South, Vassbottenbrua North, Tollerud West, Tollerud East (all E18).
Buskerut: Røyken, Hurum (both E134), Nesbyen (RV7), Bjonevika West, Bjonevika East (both E16).
Akarshas: Andelva (E6).
Telemark: Øra (RV36), Morgedal west left, Morgedal west right (both E134), Stein (RV41).
Ast-Actor: Østerholtheia West, Østerholtheia East, Trolldalen (all E18), Omre, Honnevje, Syrtveitfossen, Storestraum (all RV9), Søre Herefoss (RV41).
West-actor: Opofte, Handeland (both E39).
Highlands: Krekke, Mellomsdokka, Lomoen (all E6).
Headmark: Kolobekkan (E6), Østlund, Bjøråa (both RV3).
Sogn og Fjordane: Svidalsneset (E39).
More and Romsdal: Valsøybrua (E39).
Trendlog: Ellingsgaarden (E39), Spurbu, Quittammer (both E6).
Hordeland: Fresvik (RV13), Storegjel, Dahlberg (both RV7).
Nordland: Owsley – Buckedun (RV73).
Drums: Sørkjosfjellet (E6).
Finland: Storvikidet (E6), Gornjitak (E75), Repparfjordsletta (RV94).
For the counties of Troms and Finnmark and Nordland, the Norwegian Public Roads Administration states that there are other year-round rest areas with toilet facilities, stating the following:
Trams and Finnmark: Lavangstaden south, Lavangstaden northbound (E8), Nortnes, Hutteng, Hea (all E6), Lilsconland (E10).
Nordland: Sigerfjord (RV85), Sundsneset, Torvdalshalsen (both E10), Nerauran (E6).
With and without toilets
Even in many other rest areas of the Norwegian Public Roads Administration, it is not possible to descend in the name of nature – both on a temporary and permanent basis.
Today there are 544 rest areas on European and national roads, according to statistics obtained by Raquel Øvstedal for Dagsavisen. In these rest areas, there are 350 toilet facilities – 260 of which are flushing toilets and the remaining 90 are simple toilet solutions. This includes dry closets or outhouses.
But these statistics are not applicable throughout the year. 371 out of 544 recreation areas are fully or partially closed for winter.
– Year-round waterless toilet facilities – Outdoor toilets are closed in most cases during winter for infection control reasons, says Björn Simonsson, senior consultant at the Norwegian Public Roads Administration.
– He points out that the reason why some toilet facilities do not have water throughout the year is because the places where they are located do not have water and electricity, and the cost of bringing water and electricity to these places is very high.
– In places where water and electricity supply is a challenge, the Norwegian Public Roads Administration has in recent years established several health facilities with alternative energy sources and water supply, says Simonsen.
– The presence of toilets in all rest areas should have been standard, says Per Roger Lauridsen at NAF.
– When people stop at a rest area and find there is no toilet, they go into the shed instead. There you can see toilet paper fluttering in the air.
To be sure of finding an outdoor toilet at one of the National Road Administration rest areas, you must visit one of the 50 main rest areas so far. But there may have been a long distance between them.
Rogaland has zero major rest areas. Troms, Nordland, Møre og Romsdal, Sogn og Fjordane and Østfold have only one. In turn, according to a 2019 overview by the Norwegian Public Roads Administration, there are a total of eight in Aust-Aktor. (See full list in fact box for this case)
Rest area strategy
In 2020, the Solberg government presented a leisure sector strategy. The strategy calls for increasing the number of major rest areas from 50 to 150. A new “Rest Area Guide” for planners, consultants and contractors was available in January this year to “support the work”. With rest area strategy.
– The rest area strategy emphasizes rest areas for all road users with predictable hourly standards on the national and European road network. These should have year-round and 24-hour toilets. Year-round toilets are especially important for professional drivers and equality in the driving profession, says Liv Øvstedal at the Norwegian Public Roads Administration.
When will the new major rest areas arrive?
– Øvstedal points out that reaching the target of 150 key rest areas will require budget funding to upgrade around 60 key rest areas and create 40 new key rest areas.
– When implementing the rest area strategy, will the 350 rest areas with toilet facilities remain the same throughout the year or for part of the year?
– The majority will pass, Øvstedal replies.
– Do the 60 restrooms to be upgraded as major rest areas have toilets today?
– Yes, it probably is for the majority.
– How many rest areas with toilets will there be throughout the year once the rest area strategy is complete?
– Today there will still be year-round ones, so there will be more than 150 year-round toilet facilities, Øvstedal answers.
Norway today has 10,500 kilometers of European and national roads, operated and maintained by the Norwegian Road Administration. So 150 major rest areas are at an average distance of 70 kilometers.
Do it in the car
Per Roger Lauritzen from the NAF says more rest areas with toilets will be important for several reasons.
– He says that going to the toilet when you need to is important for well-being on the road and traffic safety.
– Rest areas with toilets are also important for tourism in Norway, and with a weaker krone exchange rate Norway will become a more popular holiday destination.
While waiting for new major recreation areas, there are alternatives, Lauritzen points out.
– There are fewer gas stations, but the rest are mostly upgraded to have usable toilets. But some places look like they haven’t been cleaned for the past week.
– What do you personally like to do on your many road trips to NAF?
– In the NAF motorhome I drive now, I have, replied Lauridsen.
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