I-5 rest areas close north of Seattle due to trash

Rest areas closed in both directions at Smokey Point and at Custer, north of Bellingham.

Associated Press

SEATTLE — The Washington State Department of Transportation has closed five rest areas north of Seattle along Interstate 5 because of excessive trash, vandalism and a staffing shortage.

Rest areas closed Friday in both directions at Smokey Point between Marysville and Arlington and both directions at Custer, north of Bellingham, The Seattle Times reported.

“We’ve seen broken toilets, broken sinks and stalls,” agency spokesperson Bart Treece, who noted maintenance crew members work in pairs for safety now, said. “Some people extend their stays and leave trash.”

The southbound Silver Lake rest area in South Everett, which was already closed, will remain shut.

The closures will last at least three months and will be reevaluated in 2022, the agency said.

Normally, four full-time workers maintain the Smokey Point and South Everett rest areas, but there’s only one employed there, Treece said. That’s part of a 32-person shortage in maintenance workers in northwest Washington, caused in part when fears of recession led to a hiring freeze early in the COVID-19 pandemic.

So far, there’s no plan to block the other 43 of WSDOT’s 48 rest stops for winter.

Treece described Friday’s closures as interim steps until staffing levels improve. Any permanent closures would need federal permission because interstate standards typically mandate a rest area every 60 miles (96 kilometers), a state planning manual says.

Talk to us

More in Northwest

The WA Cares law is designed to give individuals access to a lifetime benefit amount that, should they need it, they can use on a wide range of long-term services and supports. (Washington State Department of Social and Health Services)
Potential delay of new long-term care payroll tax considered

One concern lawmakers have about the WA Cares fund is its lack of portability for those who move out of state.

The Wahluke Warrior image represents the strong relationship between the school district and the Wanapum Indians of Priest Rapids. (Wahluke School District)
Yakama Nation approves Mattawa school’s use of Warrior image

The Wahluke School District has a mandate to ensure the use of the image remains respectful.

State officials confirm first 3 cases of omicron variant

The cases were found in Thurston, Pierce and King counties, according to the state Department of Health.

Approved Legislative District Map (Washington State Redistricting Commission)
State Supreme Court declines to draw new redistricting plan

Many Snohomish County voters are now a big step closer to having new representation in the state Legislature.

This Feb. 1, 2017 photo provided by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife shows the Western gray wolf Snake River pack seen by a remote camera in the Hells Canyon National Recreation Area. (ODFW via AP)
Oregon officials ask public help to find killers of 8 wolves

All five members of the Catherine Pack, plus three other wolves from other packs, were poisoned.

People ride one person to a double chair lift on opening day at Steven's Pass on Friday, Dec. 4, 2020 in Skykomish, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Warm weather delays ski season at Mission Ridge, Stevens Pass

Stevens Pass is pushing back its opening day of Dec. 3, saying colder temps and snow are needed.

COVID vaccine verification digital record offered in Washington

WA Verify generates a QR code that can be scanned to show that a person is fully vaccinated.

Tonya Isabell, left, speaks Thursday, June 18, 2020, during a vigil for her cousin Charleena Lyles, pictured at right, on the third anniversary of her death, in Seattle. Lyles was shot and killed by Seattle police. Also in attendance at the vigil were family members of nearly two dozen people killed by police across the country who traveled to Seattle to urge police reform, an issue renewed by protests against the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Seattle to pay $3.5M to settle police wrongful-death suit

Police killed Charleena Lyles at her home in 2017, after she called 911 to report a burglary.

Keith Wagoner
Senator becomes first GOP candidate for secretary of state

Sen. Keith Wagoner will challenge Democrat Steve Hobbs, who was appointed to the statewide post in November

Amazon workers in Alabama get a do-over in union election

The NRLB says Amazon may have created the false impression that the company was the one conducting the election process.

Reagan Dunn to take on U.S. Rep. Kim Schrier in 8th District

The Republican is challenging incumbent Democrat Kim Schrier in a district which could include a slice of Snohomish County.

FILE - In this March 9, 2021, file photo, House members meet in the Statehouse, in Boise, Idaho. An Idaho law banning nearly all abortions would take effect if the U.S. Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 ruling that declared a nationwide right to abortion. The court with a 6-3 conservative majority on Wednesday, Dec. 1 starts hearing arguments over a Mississippi law that bans abortions after 15 weeks. (AP Photo/Keith Ridler, File)
Most Idaho abortions banned if Roe v. Wade is overturned

That would leave the nearest providers for people from Idaho in Washington, Oregon, Nevada and Colorado.