New edition of Gray Notebook online
- Written by WSDOT Communications
The March 31, 2019, edition of WSDOT’s quarterly performance report (Gray Notebook 73) continues to follow the agency’s progress with its strategic plan by focusing on inclusion, practical solutions and workforce development. Gray Notebook 73:
- Demonstrates how the agency uses social media and its smartphone applications to engage communities throughout Washington
- Analyzes how WSDOT is using a data-driven approach in efforts to reduce the potential for bicyclist and pedestrian traffic crashes, and
- Illustrates how the agency works with partners to create career pathways through the Sustainability in Prisons Project and to remove barriers for individuals participating in WSDOT’s Wetlands Ecology and Monitoring Techniques Internship.
The edition is available online at https://wsdot.wa.gov/publications/fulltext/graynotebook/gray-notebook-Mar19.pdf and while performance measures are reported throughout the Gray Notebook, highlights from this issue include:
- About 22% of those who died in traffic collisions during 2018 in Washington were pedestrians and bicyclists
- The number of WSDOT’s Facebook page followers increased 24.6% from 79,343 in April 2018 to 98,878 in March 2019
- WSDOT responded to 17,010 incidents during the quarter, providing about $26.6 million in economic benefit
- WSF completed 38,348 (99.2%) of its 38,641 regularly scheduled trips in the third quarter of FY2019
- Amtrak Cascades revenue increased by 5.7%, from $29.6 million in 2017 to $31.3 million in 2018
- WSDOT added nine new wetland and stream mitigation sites on 17 acres in 2018, bringing the total to 300 sites on 1,623 acres
- WSDOT's Commercial Vehicle Information Systems and Networks helped the trucking industry avoid 168,000 travel hours and $20.1 million in operating costs in 2018
- The annual average price of gasoline in Washington state rose by 10% from 2017 to 2018, going from $2.92 per gallon to $3.21 per gallon
- WSDOT completed one Connecting Washington project in the seventh quarter of the 2017-2019 biennium
The Gray Notebook and the Gray Notebook Lite (a summary of selected performance topics covered in this quarter’s publication), can be viewed and printed from the WSDOT accountability website (www.wsdot.wa.gov/accountability).
Three state airports receive federal assistance for infrastructure projects
- Written by Paul Wolf, State Airports Manager
$9.4 million in grant funding awarded
OLYMPIA – Work to rejuvenate state airports is getting a much-needed lift, thanks to a recent supplemental appropriation provided to the Federal Aviation Administration.
Three Washington airports will receive a share of $9.4 million from the Airport Improvement Program, which helps fund projects that strengthen aviation infrastructure.
Davenport Municipal Airport outside of Spokane, will use $3.5 million for rehabilitation work and to extend the runway. $4.8 million will go to Jefferson County International Airport to improve the runway. Arlington Municipal Airport will see $1.1 million for taxiway rehabilitation with work already underway.
“The timing of this is perfect and fits well into our planned improvements,” said Dave Ryan, Arlington Municipal Airport Manager. “This will also allow us to move forward with the taxiway lighting project at the same time.”
This is the second round of funding from the U.S. Transportation budget – the first round in September 2018 provided Pullman-Moscow Regional Airport $7 million to assist with an ongoing runway construction project.
AIP grants are under the additional supplementary funding authorized by congress for airport infrastructure. Since this addition to the FAA program is 100% funded, it may allow for additional federal discretionary funds and state funding from WSDOT Aviation to go toward other airport infrastructure projects. Airport sponsors should watch for additional supplemental funds as congress makes them available in the future.
Memorial Day weekend travel requires planning ahead
- Written by Barbara LaBoe, WSDOT communications
Use WSDOT tools, allow extra time for holiday weekend traffic
OLYMPIA – With summer-like weather already here, travelers hitting the road this Memorial Day weekend should prepare for additional traffic – especially during peak travel times.
By following these steps, travelers can plan ahead for wherever they’re headed during the three-day weekend:
- Check the Washington State Department of Transportation's best times to travel charts to help plan your trip and avoid congestion.
- Get informed about WSDOT's online tools, including the WSDOT mobile app, traffic cameras and email alerts.
- Visit online traveler information for traffic, weather and ferry schedules.
- Follow WSDOT's social media accounts, such as Twitter and Facebook.
- Pre-program your vehicle radio to 530 AM and 1610 AM for highway advisory radio alerts.
- Call 5-1-1 for updated road conditions.
- Allow extra time for travel to avoid rushing or distraction.
Most state highway construction work is suspended through the holiday weekend – including Monday, May 27 – to ease congestion. However, please stay alert for new lane shifts or work zone staging areas that may remain in place.
No lane closures or other construction is planned on Interstate 90 from Friday, May 24, until to Tuesday, May 28. However, the usual holiday increase in traffic volumes means travelers should expect delays, especially eastbound on Friday, May 24, and westbound Monday, May 27. Receive text message alerts about significant delays by texting the number 468311 with the words "WSDOT Snoqualmie."
Chinook and Cayuse passes
Both Chinook Pass, State Route 410, and Cayuse Pass, SR 123, are expected to be open in time for the Memorial Day weekend, but exact dates and other details are still being finalized. Check the Chinook and Cayuse passes webpage for updates as the holiday approaches. Both these passes close each winter due to weather and hazardous conditions.
In the Puget Sound, weekend toll rates will be in effect on Monday, May 27, on the State Route 520 bridge. The Interstate 405 express toll lanes will be free and open to all drivers on the Monday holiday. Out-of-town travelers, including those using rental cars, can learn about toll roads and short term account options on the Good to Go! visitors page.
Travelers making a trip by ferry, train, personal aircraft or bus also should plan ahead to avoid holiday delays:
- Anticipate heavy ferry traffic for the holiday and plan accordingly. Peak travel times on most routes are expected to be westbound Thursday and Friday, May 23-24, and eastbound, Monday, May 27. Check the Washington State Ferries website, www.wsdot.wa.gov/ferries/, or call toll-free 888-808-7977 for details, including reservations on some routes. Customers also can bypass vehicle lines by traveling as a walk-on passenger.
- Amtrak Cascades passengers are encouraged to purchase tickets early and should plan to arrive at the station one hour before departure. All Amtrak Cascades trains require reservations. Visit www.amtrakcascades.com/ or call 800–USA–RAIL for details.
- For information about traveling via state-operated airports, visit www.wsdot.wa.gov/aviation/airports/Amenities.htm or call 800-552-0666.
- Check with local public transit agencies for any holiday schedule or service changes, including some Dial-A-Ride and fixed-route service that may not run on holidays
Renovating aircraft parking at Methow Valley State Airport
- Written by Christina Crea, WSDOT Aviation Communications
West tie down apron expansion starts May 28, requires no runway closures
WINTHROP – Pilots will have access to an updated tie down area after Methow Valley State Airport gets its long-awaited apron layout expansion. Work starts May 28 with plans for new spaces to open after approximately 30 days.
Visiting pilots will not encounter any delays or runway closures while using the airport during the construction. However, pilots should still regularly check Notices to Airmen.
This update will also expand this airport’s apron into compliance with Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) design standards. This expansion adds three additional parking positions designed for the critical design aircraft. There will be 54.49 foot spacing between tie down points and seven more parking positions for smaller aircraft with 34 foot spacing between tie down points. Some of the new tie downs will better accommodate aircraft with wingspans in the typical range of 30 – 38 feet.
The spacing of tie down points for smaller aircraft was one of the highlighted issues after the completion of last year’s $5 million pavement rehabilitation project at the airport. This project was originally intended to be included as part of last year’s pavement rehabilitation work, but due to availability and timing of federal funding, the apron expansion was be re-bid in Fall 2018 for construction this Spring/Summer 2019.
The contract was awarded to Wenatchee general contractor, Selland Construction, in the amount of $1.26 million.
Construction costs are split between the FAA Airport Improvement Program and Washington State Department of Transportation Aviation. The FAA is supporting 90 percent and WSDOT Aviation is supporting 10 percent of the total cost.
Drainage system improvements with this project include a new underdrain system along the perimeter of the expanded aircraft apron. The new underdrain system will flow into existing drainage structures, infiltration ponds, or adjacent infield areas.
The project was designed by Denver based engineering firm Jviation, who will also provide construction management services during the project
Methow Valley State Airport in Winthrop is the largest of 16 WSDOT-managed airports, serving commercial aircraft that weigh up to 30,000 pounds. The airport also supports Washington’s smoke jump base, medical evacuation flights, wildland firefighting staging and more.
Okanogan County transportation the focus of State Transportation Commission meetings, May 14 - 15
- Written by Reema Griffith, WSTC executive director
OLYMPIA – Transportation challenges and priorities for residents, businesses and visitors to Okanogan County and the Colville Reservation will be the focus of a two-day visit by the Washington State Transportation Commission to Okanogan County next week. Officials from Okanogan County and its cities, the Colville Tribe, transit providers and other community leaders will participate as part of the commission’s statewide public outreach effort.
During its two-day tour, the commission also will meet with local leaders in Twisp on Tuesday, May 14, and in Omak on Wednesday, May 15, to learn more about local needs and efforts to improve transportation and safety. The meeting in Twisp will start at 11 a.m. Tuesday at Building 9, TwispWorks, 502 S. Glover. The meeting in Omak will take place from 8:30 to 11:10 a.m. Wednesday at Omak City Hall, 2 North Ash St. The meetings are open to the public and persons wishing to speak to the commission may do so during the public comment period scheduled at the close of each meeting.
The meetings feature a series of short presentations on successes and challenges, future plans and needs for transportation in the Okanogan region. Topics include city streets, county and tribal roads, state highways, rail and air transportation, and public transportation. Commissioners will learn about the connections between economic development, tourism, and transportation in the Methow Valley, and cross-border traffic with Canada on US 97. Several presenters, including representatives of Okanogan County will talk about how recent wildfires, floods and landslides have exposed vulnerabilities in the state and local road system, and the decision to identify a primitive road network for disaster response and evacuation.
On May 14, the commission will tour bridges on State Route 153, sites on SR 20 near Loup Loup pass where landslides have recently occurred, a proposed wildlife crossing on US 97, and see causes of flooding problems on the main street in Tonasket.
On May 15, following the meeting in Omak, commissioners will meet with leaders of the Colville Tribe and tour the road system on the reservation.
The Washington State Transportation Commission holds several meetings throughout the state each year to gain insight from local government, industry and citizens about transportation issues that affect their communities and region. This information helps the commission to develop and implement transportation policies and recommendations that reflect the priorities of the people and local governments of the State of Washington. In meetings later this year, the commission will visit Bremerton, Federal Way, and Skamania County.
For more information about the commission and a complete meeting agenda, visit: www.wstc.wa.gov/
Washington, connected: State Route 20 is now open
- Written by Jeff Adamson, WSDOT Communications
The crew that headed up to the SR 20 North Cascades Highway on March 20.
Another mountain route for drivers, bicyclists to crisscross Cascades
DIABLO – With the swing of the gates, the seasonal stretch of North Cascades Highway/State Route 20 opened at 9 a.m. today for the 2019 season.
The reopening provides:
• Another route between western and eastern Washington for drivers.
• Access to more miles of US Bike Route 10.
• Access to mind-blowing hiking and gorgeous campgrounds.
The clearing process
The four-week clearing process began on March 25. This week, Washington State Department of Transportation maintenance crews and avalanche technicians completed preparations by causing controlled snow slides to clear chutes above the road, repaired and replaced guardrail and pavement and cleared ditches of debris to channel water from melting snow.
Remember: winter conditions remain
While the road is open, there are still signs of winter along the highway. Those planning hiking, camping or snow activities should prepare for limited parking until snow melts and should not stop or park in the travel lanes.
For safety, people driving and bicycling should obey highway signs and avoid stopping below snow slide areas such as Liberty Bell Mountain east of Washington Pass. There are limited facilities between Diablo and Mazama, so travelers should come prepared with a stocked emergency kit for the trip. Motorcyclists and bicyclists should also expect sand on the road until temperatures warm.
The North Cascades Highway officially opened in September 1972. The 37-mile scenic by-way travels through Whatcom, Chelan and Okanogan counties, connecting communities in western Washington’s Skagit River Valley with the Methow Valley in eastern Washington.
WSDOT worker memorial week
- Written by Jeff Adamson, WSDOT Communications
Displays in Wenatchee, Ephrata & Okanogan honor North Central Region employees who died on the job
WENATCHEE – Each year WSDOT holds a ceremony to remember the 60 workers we’ve lost on the job since 1950, honor our workers injured on the job and remind everyone about the need for work zone safety awareness.
Last April in Olympia, we placed 60 orange traffic barrels on the Capital Campus along Capitol Way near the WSDOT Headquarters and the Capital Dome.
Each barrel represents one of the 60 WSDOT workers killed on the job since 1950.
The display raised awareness about work zone safety and reminded all travelers that our workers put their lives on the line every day.
This year all the regions are placing individual displays across the state starting Monday, April 8.
North Central Region has three outdoor displays in place through Friday, April 12:
- North Central Region Office, Euclid Ave., Wenatchee
- Area 2 Maintenance Office, SR 28, Ephrata
- Area 3 Maintenance Office, US 97, Okanogan
These displays include an orange Work Zone Safety Banner and four barrels to honor the four employees from our region who died on the job:
- Frank E. Potter, Dec. 1, 1950, North Central Region, Maintenance Laborer. Frank was killed on US 2 when a car skidded into him while trying to slow down in a work zone east of Leavenworth.
- Ray Wittig, Feb. 4, 1952, North Central Region, maintenance lead technician. Ray was killed on US 2 when he was buried in a snowslide while working in Tumwater Canyon, west of Leavenworth.
- Ray T. Collie, Feb. 28, 1970, North Central Region, maintenance technician. Ray died a week after being struck by a truck on US 2 just west of Stevens Pass in a work zone as he was setting cones.
- Gordon Burlingame, July 17, 1992, North Central Region, Avalanche Control Supervisor. “Gordie” was working alone dismantling a 22-foot high radio tower from the roof of a dormitory building at Berne Camp on Stevens Pass when it became unstable and fell on him.
Employees in work zones are husbands, fathers, brothers, wives, mothers, sisters, children and friends – and they all deserve to go home safe at the end of their day. Far too many of them have had close calls, serious injuries and deaths in our work zones. Our workers have had to literally run for their lives and/or jump over guardrails due to speeding, inattentive/distracted drivers, impairment, etc.
By the Numbers
- There’s a collision in a work zone every 5.4 minutes
- About 650 people are killed across the country each year in roadway work zones.
- Washington averages 768 roadway work zone injuries a year.
- In 2018:
- 1,498 reported collisions in a work zone or a related back-up.
- 615 reported injuries.
- 11 fatal crashes.
- Travelers are more at risk in work zones than the workers:
- In 2018:
- 94% of our work zone fatalities and injuries were drivers, passengers or pedestrians
Driving Distracted through work zones
Distracted/inattentive driving is now the leading cause of work zone crashes on state highways.
Last year 539 distracted/inattentive driver citations were issued for state work zone crashes.
Our crews say they regularly see drivers looking at phones or other devices and blowing past our signs to slow down or stop; putting everyone on the road at risk.
Those who are speeding or driving under the influence of alcohol, drugs and now electronics (E-DUI) also find those citations are even more expensive as traffic fines are doubled in work zones.
- First E-DUI ticket - $136
- Second E-DUI ticket in 5 years - $234
- All E-DUI tickets are reported to insurance companies and can lead to higher rates.
- Other forms of distracted driving (not involving electronic devices) earn a $99 ticket
Work zone crashes are almost-always preventable.
The top three reasons for work zone collisions in 2018 were:
- distracted driving/inattention,
- following too closely,
- excessive speed.
We Need Help
Our crews work where traffic is speeding literally inches away and we need your help keeping both you and them safe:
- Slow Down -- drive the posted speeds, they’re there for your safety.
- Be Kind – our workers are helping to keep you safe and improve the roadways.
- Pay Attention -- both to workers directing you and surrounding traffic.
- Stay Calm -- expect delays, leave early or take an alternate route if possible; no meeting or appointment is worth risking someone’s life.
Both the national and our Washington state Work Zone Awareness events take place during April 8-12.
- The National Work Zone Awareness Week event is April 9, in Washington, DC.
- WSDOT’s Worker Memorial ceremony is April 10, in Olympia.
- April 10 is also national “Wear Orange for Safety Day”.
North Cascades Highway spring clearing has begun
- Written by Jeff Adamson, WSDOT Communications
Lower snowpack, favorable weather could speed this year’s SR 20 opening
DIABLO – Forget about that groundhog. A sure sign of spring in the Pacific Northwest is the announcement that the clearing of 37 miles of State Route 20 connecting the Skagit and Methow valleys began yesterday, Monday, March 25.
Washington State Department of Transportation’s west side maintenance crew began clearing the scenic highway from Colonial Creek to the Ross Lake Overlook at Diablo Gate on Monday. From the east side, crews cleared from Early Winters up 7 miles to Silver Star Gate – and kept going. By mid-morning Tuesday, March 26, crews cleared one lane for an additional 7 miles to Lone Fir (campground).
The barricades will remain in place at Early Winters because crews will need to remove some trees that pose a danger to travelers before it’s safe to allow people beyond the gate.
The crews expect to meet between Rainy and Washington passes within four to six weeks. The work can take longer if there is late spring snow or move more quickly if warmer temperatures accelerate snowmelt.
Once crews clear the snow, they will make necessary repairs to the highway, including guardrails, signs, stripes and pavement patches. Only then can the gates open to travelers. The reopening will provide:
- Another route between western and eastern Washington for travelers.
- Access to more miles of US Bike Route 10.
- Access to hiking trailheads and campgrounds.
During an assessment trip on Monday, March 18, WSDOT avalanche and maintenance staff found 6 feet of snow at Rainy and Washington passes; that’s 4 feet less than last year.
Public access between the closure gates is allowed during the winter months but during the Monday through Thursday clearing process, that space is a legal work zone closed to the public due to the heavy equipment used in the clearing.
In spring 2018, crews needed seven weeks to clear the highway. Clearing started on March 26, and the highway reopened on May 11. The latest opening was in 1974 when the highway reopened on June 14. During the winter of 1976 to 1977, there wasn’t enough snow to ever close the highway.
Studded tire removal deadline is March 31st
- Written by Barbara LaBoe, WSDOT Communications
Plan ahead to avoid fines, prevent road damage
OLYMPIA – With a record-setting winter finally in the history books, the arrival of spring means drivers in Washington have until Sunday, March 31, to remove studded tires.
The Washington State Department of Transportation reminds drivers that state law requires all studded tires to be removed by the end of the day March 31. Starting at midnight on Monday, April 1, drivers with studded tires face a $136 fine.
Studded tires also damage pavement, so removing them promptly after winter has passed helps preserve state roadways. Tire removal services can get crowded near the removal deadline, so please plan accordingly.
WSDOT will not extend the studded tire deadline this year, but crews continue to monitor roads, passes, and forecasts and work to quickly clear any late season snow or ice. Travelers are always advised to “know before you go” by checking road conditions before heading out and staying up-to-date on changes by using WSDOT’s social media and email alert tools or calling the 5-1-1 road conditions report.
Washington and Oregon share the same studded tire removal deadline. Other states may have later dates, but the Washington law applies to all drivers in the state, even visitors. No personal exemptions or waivers are issued.
More information about studded tire regulations in Washington is available online.
Washington becomes the first state to embed an artist in a statewide agency
- Written by Barbara LaBoe, WSDOT Communications
With today’s announcement that Kelly Gregory and Mary Welcome have been selected to serve as artists-in-residence with WSDOT for a year, Washington becomes the first state to embed an artist in a statewide agency.
March 22, 2019 — Artist team Kelly Gregory and Mary Welcome will spend a year working with the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) as artists-in-residence to bring a creative approach and help develop new ways to achieve agency goals through a first-of-its-kind program created by ArtPlace America and Transportation for America, a program of Smart Growth America.
Recognized as a tool for pioneering innovative and creative solutions, artist-in-residence programs have been piloted across the nation in municipal governmental agencies, but WSDOT will be the first statewide agency to pilot such a program at the state level. These two artists will help find creative ways to advance WSDOT’s strategic plan goals of inclusion, practical solutions and workforce development.
“The quality and quantity of applications we received for the artist-in-residence position impressed our selection committee, and we’re thrilled to have selected the team of Kelly Gregory and Mary Welcome,” said Ben Stone, Smart Growth America’s director of arts & culture. “Their collaborative approach, insatiable curiosity, and experience with design, planning, community engagement, and Washington state make them ideal artists-in-residence. I can’t wait to share their work with other states who are in the process of considering setting up their own similar programs.”
“We’re excited to work with Kelly and Mary to find innovative ways to better engage the communities we serve and deliver the best possible transportation projects,” said Roger Millar, WSDOT’s secretary of transportation. “They have experience with both rural and urban communities that will help us foster deeper community engagement, build relationships with underrepresented communities, and bring creativity to design challenges.”
“This opportunity stood out because it brings together so many of the issues we care about: transportation, infrastructure, community, the rural-urban continuum, and the role of civic service in stewarding the commons,” Gregory and Welcome said. “As artists and activists, we have a history of working in collaboration with non-arts communities and building relational bridges between fun and function. We really believe in the power of artists to bring fresh perspectives and strengthen community connections.”
About the two artists
Mary Welcome, of Palouse, Washington, is a multidisciplinary cultural worker collaborating with complex and often under-represented rural communities, with projects rooted in community engagement and the development of intersectional programming to address hyper-local issues of equity, cultural advocacy, inclusivity, visibility, and imagination. She collaborates to build cooperative environments that encourage civic engagement, radical education, and community progress.
Kelly Gregory is an itinerant social architect based on the Pacific coast. Her practice is rooted in socially-engaged work: affordable housing projects, exhibitions, reimagining spaces of incarceration, democratic public space, and in-depth community-driven research. Her projects fold current communities and future solutions into functional, beautiful spaces for collaboration and engagement. As a team, with a multi-disciplinary backgrounds in arts, outreach, architecture, and activism, they listen with communities and imagine new solutions in collaboration with neighbors.
For more information about the team, read a Q&A between the artists and Transportation for America on the organization’s website.
What will these artists do?
The residency, based in Olympia, will run for one year with both artists making rotations as a team through several WSDOT core divisions to gain knowledge on the agency’s operations, priorities and challenges. The artist team will then propose projects to address WSDOT’s overarching goals. Their work may address some or all of the following topics: improving community engagement, supporting alternatives to single occupancy vehicle transport, creating healthier communities and enhancing safety and equity. After four months of rotations, eight months will be devoted to the artists’ project(s) development and production.
The artists will begin the residency in July 2019.
More details about the program
Several organizations collaborated on the artist-in-residence program. ArtPlace America is providing a $125,000 grant for the program, including a $40,000 stipend split between the two artists and $25,000 for a final project(s) the artists and staff develop. Transportation for America will administer both the funds and the overall program, including providing staff and consulting assistance. The State Smart Transportation Initiative (SSTI) will also provide staff support. Both T4A and SSTI are programs of Smart Growth America. WSDOT is not providing funding for the program, but will supply in-kind contributions consisting of work space for the selected artists and staff time for agency workers to collaborate on the new program.