PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Woodland High School has been temporarily repurposed as a rest area for truck drivers who are traveling along Interstate-5 in Washington.
The campus, located at 1500 Dike Access Road, was left empty due to closures brought on by the coronavirus outbreak. Students were sent home on March 17 and told that school would not resume at least until April 24.
Woodland resident Eric Hansen came up with the idea to make the campus available to truckers after reading a story about their current plight. Truck stops and restaurants have closed so finding a restroom can be a huge challenge for drivers. Hansen took his idea to the Woodland School District, which agreed to open the campus to truckers on Tuesday at noon. It intends to keep the facility available around the clock for drivers.
At the high school, long-haul truckers can now park in the school lot, have access to showers, and can rest and recover from the drive. The Woodland School District also said it plans to coordinate with nearby restaurants and community members to help provide access to hot meals.
“The trucking industry is responsible for transporting the majority of goods and products our communities rely on each day,” said Superintendent Michael Green. “Providing the men and women who drive these trucks a place to rest and relax is vital in ensuring every community will receive the deliveries they need in this time of COVID-19 prevention.”
Organizers also saw an opportunity for restaurants and food trucks since truckers are still making money.
“I would send a shoutout to anyone local: If you have a food truck and would like to come out and support this effort, Exit 22 off I-5—we are ready to go,” Hansen said. “The unfortunate thing is a lot of the restaurants in this town of about 5,000 total are closed. They don’t have any food and some of them are unfortunately don’t have the money to buy food. So it’s a shoutout to help these people, as well.”
The local Starbucks is providing coffee and snacks and B. Young RV (which recently opened in Woodland) is donating several trailers in the effort. About 50 school district employees ranging from principals to janitors have also volunteered their time.
Hansen said he hopes the idea takes off across the United States to help truckers stay fresh which, in turn, will help shipments make it to stores as fast as possible.
Volunteers helped district administration ready the campus for its new guests after hearing that some rest areas would be closing. The high school parking lot can accommodate about 30 semi-trucks. Overflow parking is also available just in front of the high school.
Food cart and restaurant owners interested in selling food to truckers in Woodland can contact Eric Hansen at 360.718.0090.