State safety rest area workers honored for keeping freight moving and travelers safe during pandemic

WA Governor’s Office
Oct 29 · 2 min read
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WSDOT rest area attendants stayed out in the field as essential workers after the pandemic struck, using rolling cleaning stations to keep rest areas clean and open for the traveling public. (WSDOT Photo)

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted nearly every facet of daily life over the past eight months. While this time has been challenging, Washingtonians have met it with resilience and determination to listen to science and keep the virus under control. It has also shined a light on Washington’s frontline heroes, such as state maintenance workers, who have continued working every day to make sure rest areas are clean, open and safe through it all.

Rest area crews from the Washington State Department of Transportation kept working in the field as essential workers during the “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order. They also increased the frequency of their cleaning to help keep travelers safe. This meant cleaning all 45 year-round state rest areas at least twice a day.

At the most heavily used sites along I-5, I-90 and I-82, all touch points, such as door handles, faucets and handrails, were cleaned every two hours. Crews also worked repairing the rest areas to keep them open and in good working order.

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A maintenance worker repairs pipes in one of the state’s safety rest areas, which were often the only public facilities open for freight hauler and essential workers during the pandemic. (WSDOT Photo)

In many parts of the state, rest areas were often the only public facilities open during the Stay Home order and were a vital service for essential workers who needed to travel, especially for freight drivers.

Freight drives Washington’s economy every day, but during the pandemic it became even more crucial for getting supplies to residents — including masks, hand sanitizer, medical equipment and food. Rest areas provided clean, convenient places for freight drivers to use facilities, as well as take mandated safety rest breaks.

The state chapter of the American Public Works Association recently recognized the state safety rest area workers and their great work with their “Empowering Teams Award,” announced during their fall conference.

“It’s fitting to recognize and honor these state workers’ hard work and commitment to public service during trying and uncertain times,” Gov. Jay Inslee said. “I thank everyone involved, from those who clean and repair rest area facilities to the managers who run the operations and provide gear to keep our workers safe. You helped keep Washington running.”

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Washington State Governor's Office

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