It’s been a frustrating week for some of our maintenance crews who work along I-90. No, we’re not talking about snow. There’s not much anyone can do about that.
We’re talking about vandalism.
|The Indian John Rest Area was closed for several hours after vandals removed plumbing|
from the restroom wall, causing the area to flood.
Both our Indian John and Ryegrass rest areas were hit with some significant vandalism this week. Not only does that pull our maintenance teams away from other work, it also pulls money from our maintenance budget that could go toward pothole repair or other important highway safety jobs.
|Water sprays from the wall after|
vandals removed plumbing from
the Indian John Rest Area restroom.
At our Indian John Rest Area, crews found that someone had pulled the plumbing out of a restroom wall, causing flooding in and around the building. Cleanup and temporary repairs led to the rest stop, located east of Cle Elum, being closed for several hours. We’ll still need to return to do a permanent repair.
Meanwhile, at the westbound Ryegrass Rest Area, east of Ellensburg, someone decided to see how strong the touch screen monitor on our information kiosk was, smashing several divots in the screen with some kind of tool or instrument. These monitors provide travelers with information like road conditions and location of amenities. The damage likely means the monitor will fail and we’ll have to replace it sooner than expected.
Whether it’s graffiti, wire theft or situations like those we saw this week, there’s really no excuse for vandalism. In the past two years we spent $665,000 just on graffiti removal statewide, and this year we project that cost to be about $435,000. That’s not even counting the cost to make repairs to incidents like the ones we faced this week.
While we have many cameras throughout our highway system, we don’t have them everywhere, and we don’t record video on them. Most of the vandalism also seems to take place at night, making it even harder to catch. But you can help. If you see vandalism occurring on state property, whether it’s graffiti, theft or damage to signs or rest areas, please call 911 to report it.
|Vandals punched several holes in an informational kiosk monitor at our Ryegrass Rest Area.|
|Our Ryegrass Rest Area informational kiosk, which provides useful info|
to travelers, was damaged when vandals punched holes in the monitor.