KIRO NEWSRADIO OPINION

Skorheim: How do you feel about WSDOT’s $10M bathrooms?

Dec 7, 2023, 3:30 PM | Updated: 3:40 pm

Image: A rest area sign advertising free coffee can be seen in the state of Washington....

A rest area sign advertising free coffee can be seen in the state of Washington. (Photo courtesy of WSDOT)

(Photo courtesy of WSDOT)

I saw a story the other day about how the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) says the agency needs $500 million (Wow!) to fix the 47 aging rest stops throughout the state.

Anytime we talk about WSDOT and money (often over budget), two things seem to happen. First, the numbers for WSDOT projects are always so astronomically huge that I rarely notice them anymore. Second, my eyes immediately begin to glaze over and I start to fall asleep from sheer boredom. But now I’m thinking that’s exactly what they want us to do. They want us to go to sleep and not ask any questions.

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Let’s take a look at this $500 million that they say they’ll need in order to upgrade the current rest stops. How much is that going to be per rest stop? I’m no mathematician,  but I do have a calculator app on my phone. And that number is (drumroll please)…$10,638,297 PER REST STOP! WSDOT says they will take 15 years to do all this work, but still, that number seems generous to me.

Does that seem crazy to anyone else? How on God’s green earth can you spend almost $11 million on a bathroom and a stretch of grass for your dog to relieve itself? Couldn’t they just spend, maybe, half on these rest stops? Bring them in at $5 million each and call it a day? That would still be about $250 million for the 47 rest stops and seems like it should be more than enough.

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WSDOT spokesperson Tina Werner recently told KOMO News, “It has been 15 years since this last strategic plan was updated, and 15 years ago, the needs of our travelers were different.”

How are the “needs” different? I’ve been using these rest stops for much longer than 15 years and without going into too much detail, I’ll tell you I’m doing the same thing in them now that I was doing back then.

Listen to KIRO Nights weeknights from 7-10 p.m. on KIRO Newsradio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the KIRO Nights with Jake Skorheim podcast here, on Apple Podcasts, or Spotify.
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Skorheim: How do you feel about WSDOT’s $10M bathrooms?