SMOKEY POINT — Rest areas in Everett and Smokey Point will close through the rest of this year.
Last month, the Washington State Department of Transportation closed the Everett stop along southbound I-5, north of 112th Street SE, for major cleaning and maintenance work. But the closure could be indefinite because of persistent vandalism as well as ongoing staffing shortages, WSDOT spokesman Bart Treece said.
“We’ve had a tough time trying to recruit people for highway maintenance out there,” he said.
Smokey Point’s rest areas in both directions closed Friday for at least three months.
In the agency’s Everett area, there were 28 maintenance positions open, Treece said. Over 40 positions based in King, Snohomish and Skagit counties were listed on the agency’s job postings site wsdotjobs.com.
According to a news release, the agency’s decision was caused by people staying at the rest areas longer than intended, dumping trash, leaving pet waste, vandalizing facilities, and verbally abusing and threatening WSDOT employees.
“The decision to close these rest areas is not taken lightly,” said Morgan Balogh, WSDOT assistant regional administrator for maintenance, in the release. “Our priority is keeping the roadway safe for all users and we need to shift our resources moving into the winter months.”
Dump stations for recreational vehicles will also be closed at Silver Lake and in both directions at Smokey Point. WSDOT plans to reopen the dump stations at the northbound I-5 Smokey Point rest area within a few weeks.
With the closures, there will be a gap in rest areas on I-5 stretching about 100 miles. To the north is the Bow Hill rest area in Whatcom County. South is King County’s SeaTac rest area.
WSDOT recommends people traveling to plan stops to stretch, use restrooms and rest if necessary. Both of the closed rest area locations in Snohomish County are near amenities, Treece said.