Washington state lawmakers recently passed a bill to require transportation officials to reopen several state-operated rest areas that were shuttered in the fall in order to provide more parking and support for truck drivers.
The bill, HB 1655, was introduced by Rep. Dan Griffey, and directs the Washington Department of Transportation (WSDOT) to reopen closed rest areas as quickly as possible in order to provide safe commercial vehicle parking. The bill pointed to nationwide truck parking shortages, hours of service requirements, and “supply line integrity” as reasons for reopening the rest areas as quickly as possible.
The bill requires WSDOT “to reconfigure its maintenance operations to assure that its owned and operated safety rest areas are open for use except for seasonal closures or cleaning, maintenance, and repairs.”
The bill was signed into law on March 31, 2022 by Governor Jay Inslee. The new law will allow all drivers to use the rest areas starting in June 2022, according to a news release from Griffey’s office.
“This bill is going to help correct this ongoing problem, which will save lives,” said Griffey. “Our truck drivers need all the help they can get. We need to make sure they can deliver the important goods we need, but we need them to be able to do it safely.”
In October 2021, the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) shut down several rest areas located on I-5 between Everett and the Canadian border.
Officials said that they were shutting down the rest areas due to staffing issues and vandalism.
“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.