Statewide draft Safety Rest Area Strategic Plan available for public comment through Aug. 30

Selah Creek Rest Area outside Yakima, looking eastbound. (Photo by Chris Light via Wikimedia Commons)

The public is invited to comment on Washington State Department of Transportation’s draft Safety Rest Area Strategic Plan, which covers topics such as safety, financially sustainable operations, customer experience, truck parking and resiliency.

The last strategic plan was updated in 2008 – nearly 15 years ago – and the needs of travelers have changed and continue to evolve while the state’s 47 aging Safety Rest Area facilities need significant repair and improvements. The strategic plan identifies modern day needs and can also be used by state leaders to develop possible next steps for short-term and long-term rest area decisions within current funding challenges.

The state’s rest areas are used heavily by the traveling public and help prevent drowsy driving by giving people a chance to take a break. However, the sites are expensive to maintain, with ongoing plumbing, potable water, sewage systems and pavement costs. Statewide, 87% of the rest area facilities are rated in critical condition. More than half of the rest area buildings will be 50 years or older by 2031, requiring either considerable rehabilitation or evaluation about further use and options.

The public comment period is available through 5 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 30, and allows participants to learn more about the strategic plan process as well as leave comments or feedback before the plan is finalized, likely in late fall 2023. WSDOT previously conducted public outreach from June 27-Sept. 5, 2022. More than 5,300 comments were submitted from travelers across the state and were considered in the draft plan currently available for review.

Public comment period

When:            July 31-Aug. 30


Details:          People can provide feedback on the draft strategic plan online, which is available 24 hours a day, whenever it best fits individual schedules. Comments can also be submitted via email to: Voicemail comments can be left at 360-705-7784. Mail-in comments can be sent to: WSDOT Safety Rest Area Strategic Planning Team 310 Maple Park Avenue SE P.O. Box 47328 Olympia, WA 98504-7300

At a high level, the strategic plan:

  • Addresses core focus areas, including safety, financially sustainable operations, customer experience, truck parking and resiliency by providing an overview and strategies for each area.
  • Introduces the concept of piloting new site designs, including urban locations with limited RV parking, expanded commercial truck parking, additional safety amenities and commercial truck-only facilities.
  • Establishes criteria such as crash data, usage, availability of alternative locations, truck parking needs and usage needs by customer group (RV, passenger vehicles, commercial trucks) to evaluate each location as part of the state’s overall-modal transportation system. The draft plan does not call for closing any existing sites, nor does it advocate for any new locations.
  • Shares possible strategies and next steps.

Free, temporary internet access is available at several sites across the state for those who do not have broadband service. A list of sites can be found online here.

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