Travelers on Highway 101 near the Gaviota Tunnel may have noticed rest stops in the area have been closed for some time, but engineers working on renovations in the area say they’re hoping the restrooms will be opened by February of next year.

The rest stops, which are located on both the northbound and southbound sides of the highway just south of the Gaviota tunnel, have been closed to replace worn-out restroom plumbing, according to Jim Shivers, a spokesman for Caltrans.

Caltrans estimates that both rest stops had more than 1 million visitors last year, and Shivers said it’s been almost 15 years since major improvements were made at the facilities.

“Many years of wear and tear due to high visitor use combined with older model fixtures and clogged plumbing pipes needed to be remedied,” he said.

The structure’s plumbing is being overhauled with new piping, low-flow toilets and urinals, and other amenities will be added to the restrooms. 

Other less-visible items will also be installed, such as newly required underground water storage tanks for fire suppression at both restroom locations.

The contractor for the $927,000 project is Prism Engineering Inc. of Hayward.

Signs at the northbound Highway 101 rest area at Gaviota are covered up while a major renovation project is under way. (Mike Eliason / Noozhawk photo)

Shivers said the project was in the works several years before Gov. Jerry Brown’s drought declaration, and that the closures are also overlapping with work California State Parks is doing at the nearby Las Cruces Water Treatment Plant. 

The rest stop and Gaviota State Park both rely on the same spring as their water source, which is processed at Las Cruces, and conservation is important even without the drought, Shivers said.

To conserve water in the future, landscaping in the area will also be changed to replace the lawn areas with mulch, and a smart irrigation system will be installed for watering shrubs and shade trees.

More information about Caltrans operated rest areas can be found by clicking here, including closures and a map of open locations.

Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper can be reached at Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

Construction on restrooms and other facilities is continuing at the Gaviota rest stops on Highway 101. The facilities are expected to reopen in February. (Mike Eliason / Noozhawk photo)

— Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper can be reached at Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.