Map of WA State highway rest areas (WADOT)
Map of WA State highway rest areas (WADOT)

According to a new report issued by the WA State Department of Transportation (WADOT) most of the state's highway rest stops badly need repairs. This picture shows the location of all the rest areas in WA State, courtesy of the WADOT.

The bulk of the rest stops were built before 1974

According to information from the report, and The Center Square, there are 47 rest stops scattered along WA State Highways (SR), two-lane Federal Highways which are referred to as US routes, and the Interstate highways that run through WA.

The stops are referred to as SAR, or Safety Rest Areas by DOT. Studies have shown the use of them by tired motorists or truckers has reduced crashes by 2.94 per rest area.

WADOT says the bulk of the stops were built between 1967 and 1974. Of the 47, its estimated at least 20 need replacing.  The report gives the price tag for replacing those and renovating most of the rest.

DOT puts the price tag anywhere from $325 to $525 million dollars, over the next 15 years.   Aside from newer stations, some of which were built along with some highway renovations (especially along Interstate highways) 87 percent of them need some sort of work.

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The DOT report also says the growing homeless problem has brought about increased long-term RV parking, tent, and other encampments, and increased violence, threats, and drug problems at some rest areas. According to surveys, which have been gathered online since last summer, many travelers don't feel as safe using these stations as they did a few years ago. The surveys also show a marked increase in panhandling at these rest stops.

It does not appear, according to the information released by DOT, that these repairs would fall under the gas tax umbrella, which is why they would be asking the legislature to appropriate the funds to renovate these rest areas. Gas taxes are required by the state Constitution, to only be used for road and transportation projects.

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