SNOHOMISH COUNTY, Wash. — The Washington State Department of Transportation announced it is temporarily closing some rest areas in Snohomish County because they are being overrun by problems like vandalism, drug use and squatters.
Many people admitted to KIRO 7 that some of the rest stops have become major areas for crime.
On Thursday, a KIRO 7 crew observed many people camping out at one rest stop in Everett and even using drugs.
“They’re not here for usage of the community property, it’s for no good,” said Aaron Pierce, who was at the rest stop.
For that specific reason, WSDOT crews are taking action and have closed a rest area near Silver Lake.
In addition, two other rest stops are expected to close near Smokey Point by the weekend.
People who rely on the stops for rest and relaxation said it is discouraging news.
“We all enjoy a piece of this public property, and yeah, it would be nice if there were another solution to that problem,” Adam Unger said.
Even those who are camped out at the Silver Lake rest area admitted there was a problem.
“Yeah, it’s bad. They have a workload because of the pandemic and everybody falling on hard times,” said Laney Lowe, who is homeless and often spends her night at the rest area.
Lowe thinks once the rest stop closes, people will just pick up and move somewhere else.
“They’re going to go parking lots. And it’s only going to get worse,” she said.
And for truck drivers, space is filling up at rest stops. They worry safety will be an issue along the highway.
“You’re going to find a lot of trucks actually parking on off-ramps and where they’re not supposed to be parking,” truck driver Chris Nesbitt said.
WSDOT said the closures will last until the end of the year when they’re fully staffed again.
As the pandemic continues, workers said there are not enough resources to enforce the rules at the rest stops.
WSDOT said there had been times when work and maintenance crews were physically threatened when trying to clean up the areas.
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