They aren't glamorous. But, for those of us with an aversion to truck stop restrooms, the typical safety rest area is as beautiful as an oasis in the most arid of lands.
Through the years driving the state's highways and across the West, I've become somewhat of a connoisseur of rest areas. Washington's facilities are clean and functional. They are, in a word or two, very well maintained. And, these facilities are also well used.
Believe it or not, 21.5 million ... yes, the "m" with the "illion," made a pit stop at a safety rest area somewhere in Washington in 2006. That's more than 200,000 more than in 2005.
The Toutle River rest area in Cowlitz County saw nearly 3.3 million visits last year. Indian John Hill on I-90 near Snoqualmie Pass had more than 2 million visitors in 2006. Even the Telford rest area in Lincoln County had 145,000 visits.
So the next time you visit a safety rest area and spot a WSDOT maintenance worker keeping the place nice, tell him or her how much you appreciate their effort. Without them, we might all be lining up at the truck stop.