WSDOT publishes first Safety Rest Area Strategic Plan in nearly 15 years

Aging facilities, safety improvements, truck parking among funding needs identified

OLYMPIA – After months of public outreach and research, the Washington State Department of Transportation has finalized the 2023 Safety Rest Area Strategic Plan – the first of its kind in about a decade and a half. This plan addresses the evolving needs and challenges for sustaining 47 state-owned safety rest areas that currently support 24 million annual users.

The plan illustrates the ways rising operating costs due to increasing usage and declining infrastructure conditions present challenges in keeping safety rest areas open and operational for the traveling public. Since most safety rest areas were built between 1967 and 1974, they were not designed to meet current demand for usage, commercial truck parking and traveler safety concerns.

In addition to working with partners, WSDOT conducted preliminary public outreach June 27-Sept. 5, 2022, to develop the plan and its focus. More than 5,300 travelers from across the state participated and their feedback was considered in the plan that helped WSDOT identify key focus areas and strategies for addressing these challenges. Once WSDOT updated the plan, the new draft was shared for additional review and public comment July 31-Aug. 28 of this year.

"WSDOT will use this plan as a guide for future decisions and legislative requests with a focus on safety, financially sustainable operations, traveler experience, truck parking and resilience," said WSDOT Maintenance and Operations Director Pasco Bakotich.

The full plan is available online. Although the public comment period has passed, people with questions or comments can submit their requests via email or call 360-705-7784.

Slow down on ice and snow.

It's easier to skid or lose control traveling at higher speeds. Give yourself more time to stop.

Carry chains, practice installing them.

Winter conditions could mean chains are required on your route. Practice putting them on your vehicle ahead of time.

Pack your winter car kit.

Carry extra supplies like warm clothing, ice scraper and brush, jumper cables and other emergency items.