Five rest areas on Interstate 5 in northern Washington state are closed for at least three months -- and maybe longer -- so Department of Transportation crews can perform maintenance and repair damages caused by vandals. The closings are also driven in part by a lack of resources and staffing.
As of Oct. 15, I-5 rest areas will close in both directions at Smokey Point between Marysville and Arlington and in both directions at Custer, north of Bellingham. The southbound Silver Lake rest area in South Everett, which was already closed, will remain closed.
"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."
A statement from WSDOT said:
"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.
"The dump stations for recreational vehicles will remain closed at Silver Lake and in both directions at Smokey Point. The agency is working to open access for the RV dump stations at the northbound I-5 Smokey Point Rest Area in the next few weeks. Neither of the Custer Rest Areas has dump stations."
WSDOT said it will reevaluate reopening all rest area facilities early next year.