The Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) has announced that multiple rest areas will shutter due to staffing and safety issues.
Beginning on Friday, October 15, WSDOT will close several rest areas located on I-5 between Everett and the Canadian border.
The rest area closures include the rest areas o northbound and southbound I-5 at Smokey Point north of Marysville and at Custer north of Bellingham. These closures are expected to last at least three months.
The southbound I-5 Silver Lake Rest Area, located at milepost 188 in Everett, was closed in late September for maintenance. WSDOT has extended the closure of this rest area indefinitely.
WSDOT says that they’ve decided to close the rest areas long-term due to vandalism and safety concerns.
“The rest areas are useful for people who need to take a break from the highway. However, in recent months, there have been numerous issues with some visitors who are not using the facilities for their intended purpose. This includes those who extend their stay beyond the posted limits, illegal disposal of trash and waste, vandalizing the buildings, verbally abusing and even threatening WSDOT employees,” WSDOT said in a news release.
“The decision to close these rest areas is not taken lightly,” said Morgan Balogh, WSDOT assistant regional administrator for Maintenance. “Our priority is keeping the roadway safe for all users and we need to shift our resources moving into the winter months.”
WSDOT says that there are plans to reevaluate the rest area closures early next year based on available resources and staffing.