New eastbound I-90 lanes open east of Snoqualmie Pass, marking halfway point of major improvement project
- Written by Meagan Lott, WSDOT
HYAK – The opening of a new stretch of eastbound Interstate 90 marks the halfway point of a 15-mile improvement project to add lanes, build bridges, stabilize rock slopes, reduce avalanche closures and improve wildlife movement east of Snoqualmie Pass.
The Washington State Department of Transportation and contractor crews opened two of three new eastbound lanes to traffic last week. The third and final lane is scheduled to open in November.
“After many years of hard work, it’s exciting to see we are nearing completion,” said Brian White, WSDOT assistant regional administrator for construction. “The additional lanes and avalanche bridges will provide a more reliable roadway and the wildlife overcrossing will improve safety and connect wildlife habitat.”
In 2013, WSDOT celebrated the completion of the first 3 miles of the corridor. The near-completion of this 4-mile section marks a major milestone as WSDOT is halfway to completing the full 15 miles between Hyak and Easton.
This 7-mile section of I-90 between Hyak and Stampede Pass, with a total budget of $551 million, was funded by the 2005 gas tax. Contractor crews removed more than 2 million cubic yards of material and poured 153,000 cubic yards of concrete to build six new lanes – three in each direction – and 17 new bridges including two avalanche bridges and a wildlife overcrossing.
Work to complete the remaining half of the 15-mile corridor is scheduled to begin in 2021 with completion in 2029. This 8-mile section will add new lanes, stabilize rock slopes, build more wildlife overcrossings and add new chain-up areas. The Connecting Washington funding package provides $426 million to improve this final stretch of I-90.
WSDOT bridge conditions continue to improve
- Written by Joe Irwin, Strategic Assessment and Performance Analysis, WSDOT
Quarterly Gray Notebook report also tracks freight, fish passage and highway safety statistics
OLYMPIA – The condition of bridges owned by the Washington State Department of Transportation continued to improve through the first half of 2018. Between fiscal years 2017 and 2018, the percentage of WSDOT owned bridges (measured by bridge deck area) in fair or better condition increased from 91.8 percent to 92.5 percent. State fiscal years (FY) run from July 1 through June 30, with FY2018 ending June 30, 2018.
WSDOT reports bridge conditions measured by the surface area of bridge decks rather than simply reporting the number of bridges in each condition category in order to provide a more accurate view of system-wide bridge conditions, and to conform with federal reporting methods. While WSDOT uses deck surface area for reporting purposes, the ratings themselves cover all aspects of a bridge, including support structures.
WSDOT also collects data on the conditions of bridges owned and maintained by local governments such as counties and cities. Overall statewide bridge conditions– including both state and locally owned bridges – also improved. In FY 2018, approximately 4.8 million square feet (6.6 percent) of the 72.3 million square feet of deck on bridges owned by local and state governments was in poor condition. That’s an improvement from FY 2017, when 7.6 percent was in poor condition. A bridge in poor condition is still safe for travel; the “poor” rating identifies that substantial repairs are needed, but they do not require bridge closure before the work is completed.
These analyses and others can be found in WSDOT’s latest edition of its quarterly performance publication, the Gray Notebook. The current publication summarizes the quarter that ended June 30 and includes articles on freight, highway system safety and fish passage barriers. Notable topics include:
- Washington waterborne freight tonnage increased 10.2 percent in 2016 compared to 2015; air cargo tonnage in Washington increased 7.6 percent during the same period.
- Tragically, annual statewide traffic fatalities increased 5.4 percent and serious injuries increased 0.3 percent from 2016 to 2017.
- WSDOT corrected 14 fish passage barriers in 2017, improving access to 45.5 miles of potential upstream habitat.
To learn more about WSDOT’s performance or to review “Gray Notebook 70” or its condensed “Lite” version, visit WSDOT’s Accountability website.
Counting on volunteers to tally people who walk and bike
- Written by Ed Spilker, WSDOT Active Transportation Division
Statewide partnership preparing for annual count Sept. 25-27
OLYMPIA – Each year, the number of people who choose to walk, ride bicycles or take other active travel means as their mode of transportation is increasing in Washington. How do we know? Volunteers annually count the number of people who walk or ride bicycles at selected locations during a three-day survey. For those who would like to help, volunteer registration is now open for this year’s survey starting Tuesday, Sept. 25.
Volunteers are vital to the success of this project, and about 400 people are needed for the count. For the 2017 count, volunteers tallied more than 63,500 people biking and walking in communities across Washington. In 2017, the number of people who walked, biked or used other active modes increased 4 percent over the 2016 count, when evaluating comparable sites.
For this 11th annual survey, the Washington State Department of Transportation and Cascade Bicycle Club are partnering with FeetFirst, Washington Bikes and Futurewise to help count the number of people bicycling and walking Tuesday, Sept. 25, through Thursday, Sept. 27.
“This volunteer effort makes sure that people who bike and walk are counted as essential users of the transportation system,” said WSDOT Active Transportation Division Director Barb Chamberlain. “Each year that volunteers make the collection process possible, we get a more robust picture of the growth in active transportation.”
"We're excited to once again work with the Washington State Department of Transportation to ensure that biking and walking counts across Washington state,” said Richard Smith, Executive Director of Cascade Bicycle Club, “This is possible only because of the hundreds of volunteers who care about safer biking and walking."
Data collected during the count is used by state and local agencies to estimate demand; measure the benefit of bicycle and pedestrian project investments; and improve policies, project designs and funding opportunities. The data also helps agencies understand how and where to address active transportation options for people who don’t have the income to choose other transportation alternatives. For these people, walking and biking might be their only mode, or part of a multimodal trip to access transit.
As WSDOT embarks on an update to the statewide active transportation plan, this effort will shape the vision of a future with a complete, comfortable network for all ages and abilities.
In addition to the annual count, WSDOT, Cascade Bicycle Club, and local agencies are partnering to install permanent counters at locations around the state. To see counts from both data collection programs, visit the WSDOT Bicycle and Pedestrian Count Portal.
To sign-up to volunteer, visit bikepedcount.wsdot.wa.gov
WSDOT and the Cascade Bicycle Club are asking volunteers from across the state to perform the counts in nearly 60 communities including: Anacortes, Bainbridge Island, Battle Ground, Bayview, Bellevue, Bellingham, Bothell, Bremerton, Burien, Burlington, Concrete, Ellensburg, Everett, Federal Way, Ferndale, Gig Harbor, Issaquah, Kelso, Kenmore, Kent, Kirkland, La Conner, Lake Forest Park, Lakewood, Longview, Lyman, Lynden, Mercer Island, Milton, Mount Vernon, Mountlake Terrace, Oak Harbor, Olympia, Orting, Parkland, Pasco, Pullman, Puyallup, Renton, Richland, Seattle, Sedro-Woolley, Shoreline, Snoqualmie, Spokane, Spokane Valley, Sumner, Swinomish Indian Tribal Community Reservation, Tacoma, Tukwila, University Place, Vancouver, Vashon Island, Walla Walla, Wenatchee and Yakima.
WSDOT’s count is part of the National Documentation Project, an annual bicycle and pedestrian count and survey effort sponsored by the Institute of Transportation Engineers Pedestrian and Bicycle Council. The count will also help measure WSDOT’s progress toward the goal of increasing bicycling and walking to reduce the number of vehicle miles driven.
Eastbound lanes of I-90 near Cle Elum to close to traffic two nights next week
- Written by Meagan Lott, WSDOT
CLE ELUM – The eastbound lanes of Interstate 90 will close to traffic near Cle Elum two nights next week.
The contractor working for the Washington State Department of Transportation is replacing the bridge decks near Cle Elum. In order to do this work, the eastbound lanes will close to traffic from 9 p.m. to 8 a.m. Tuesday, Aug. 7 and Wednesday, Aug. 8. Drivers will be detoured around the closure via State Route 970 and US 97 and should plan for about 30 minutes of added travel time.
Drivers will also experience lane closures in both directions during the day next week Monday through Friday due to bridge work near Cle Elum at milepost 86 and near Ellensburg at milepost 102.
WSDOT provides a variety of tools to help plan your trip over Snoqualmie Pass:
- Sign up for email updates and text message alerts.
- Snoqualmie Mountain Pass Web page for real-time travel information and to view traffic cameras.
- Check the weekly Construction Updates and Traffic pages for region-wide updates.
- Tune into the Highway Advisory Radio at 1610 AM and 530 AM.
- Follow us on Twitter @snoqualmiepass.
- Call the I-90 construction hotline at 888-535-0738 or 511.
Public invited to review draft transportation plan for 2040 and beyond
- Written by Paul Parker, WSTC Deputy Director
OLYMPIA – Here’s your chance to have a say in the framework that ensures transportation plans and investments for local streets and roadways, state highways, transit, ferries, sidewalks, bike lanes, air, barge, and rail all work together to keep people and freight moving safely and efficiently.
The public is invited to review and comment on the draft Washington Transportation Plan – 2040 and Beyond, just released by the Washington State Transportation Commission.
Transportation Commission Chair Jerry Litt said a regular refresh of the plan is a chance to take stock of what has changed since it was last updated in January 2015. “The pace of change, especially in transportation technologies, is picking up. It’s important to regularly look at emerging issues to be sure we’re on the right track.”
Emerging technology is one of three big uncertainties the commission highlights in WTP 2040 and Beyond. The other two are: system resiliency in light of extreme weather events and natural disasters like earthquakes, and how to pay for transportation. “We’re dealing with some big issues that are going to affect all of us in some way,” Litt added. “Transportation affects every aspect of our daily lives. There are some hard choices in front of us and we need to make smart, informed decisions.”
The commission reached out to a broad group of organizations for input in developing the draft plan. The 27 members of the WTP Advisory Group include regional planning organizations, state agencies, tribal and transit representatives, business and port associations, city and county associations, transportation and planning advocates and others.
“We relied on insights from advisory group members to help us understand transportation issues from the perspectives of their many different constituents,” noted Commissioner Hester Serebrin. “We will strive to ensure that underrepresented communities have a voice at the table in order to develop a plan that supports transportation all across Washington.”
Commission staff are holding meetings around the state to share the draft WTP 2040 and Beyond plan. A list of meeting dates and locations is on the project website.
Commissioner Debbie Young encouraged people to learn more about the plan and provide input. “This plan will shape how we think about transportation problems and solutions, from rural Washington to our biggest cities. Input now will help make sure we hear everyone’s perspective.”
The Commission must adopt an updated plan and present it to the State Legislature and Governor Inslee by January 2019
US 97 Blewett Pass CLOSED September 9th TO 14th
- Written by Jeff Adamson, WSDOT
US 97 Blewett Pass will be closed in both directions to ALL traffic from 9 PM Sunday, September 9th to 9 AM on Friday, September 14th to replace 3 culverts under the highway between MP 157.6 and MP 169.0.
Two box culverts will be installed about 1.5 miles and 4.5 miles north of the summit. As part of a separate contract, a third box culvert will be installed near the Swauk Creek campground.
The culvert replacements will all be done at the same time to minimize impacts to traffic and recreation. In addition to the full closure, the two projects may require intermittent weekday single lane closures throughout the month of September.
The current Mill culvert on Swauk Creek is a barrier to salmon and resident trout due to its size and orientation. The culverts on the north side of Blewett Pass need to be replaced because they are undersized and have a history of plugging with debris during storms, leading to washouts along the highway.
• Southern limit: MP 157.60, Between Mineral Springs and USFS #9714 – Iron Creek Rd
o 8 miles north of US 97/SR 970 junction (Lauderdale Junction), 5 miles north of Liberty.
• Northern limit: MP 169.00, Just below Five Mile Creek Rd.
o 5 miles north of Blewett Pass Summit, 9 miles south of Ingalls Creek Rd, 16 miles south of US 97/US 2 interchange (“Big Y”).
• Forest Service roads that have outlets within the work area will be barricaded at:
o USFS 7320 – Old Blewett Rd at Swauk Meadow (MP 159.23)
o USFS 9711 – Hurley Creek Rd at Swauk Meadow (MP 159.27)
o USFS 7324 – Wenatchee Crest Trail at Summit trailhead (MP 163.92)
o USFS 9716 – Swauk Discovery Trail at Summit trailhead (MP 163.89)
For more information & updates go to https://www.wsdot.wa.gov/projects/us97/blewett-pass/home
Governor fills open seat on State Transportation Commission
- Written by Reema Griffith, WSTC executive director
OLYMPIA – Gov. Jay Inslee recently appointed James (Jim) A. Restucci, Sunnyside, to fill an open seat on the seven-member Washington State Transportation Commission. The appointment is for a six-year term ending June 30, 2024.
Restucci is vice president, chief technology officer, and co-founder of Axcess Internet Services, Inc., a company providing internet services and managed information technology solutions since 2002.
“I am honored by the governor’s trust,” said Restucci. “I look forward to working with my colleagues on the commission, WSTC staff, members of the state legislature, and city and county local appointed and elected officials, as well as citizens at large to provide a transportation plan that addresses the needs of all Washingtonians now and into the future.”
A member of the Sunnyside City Council since 2004, Restucci served as mayor of Sunnyside from 2010 to 2018, and was president of the Association of Washington Cities from 2016 to 2017.
While active in many community groups and organizations in the Yakima Valley, Restucci is focused on improving transportation in his community. Since 2010, he has served as chairman of the Yakima Valley Conference of Governments, which serves as the Metropolitan Planning Organization and Regional Transportation Planning Organization for Yakima County. He has also served as a board member and president of “People for People,” a nonprofit organization that includes employment and training services, special needs transportation, and transportation for Medicaid services, in communities across eastern Washington. From 2012 to 2018, Restucci served on the National Association of Regional Councils Board of Directors, representing the regional and transportation interests of Councils of Government in Washington and Oregon on the national stage.
Restucci served in the U.S. Army from 1984 to 1995, and in the Washington Army National Guard from 1995 to 2004. He is a recipient of the Washington State Guardsman's Medal. He also is a lifetime member of the Sunnyside Veterans of Foreign Wars Post #3482 and served as Senior Vice-Commander, Post Judge Advocate and Post surgeon. Restucci is a member of the AMVETS Post #73 and the American Legion Post #3733.
Restucci is married to DeLeesa Restucci and has two sons, Dylan and Alex.
The transportation commission is a seven-member body appointed by the governor and charged with setting toll rates, ferry fares, authoring the state’s 20-year transportation plan, and advising the governor and legislature on transportation policy and fiscal matters. For more information about the commission, visit: http://www.wstc.wa.gov/
US 2 closure and detour planned July 25 for culvert replacement in Tumwater Canyon
- Written by Meagan Lott, WSDOT
LEAVENWORTH - US Highway 2 from Leavenworth west to the SR 207 junction at Coles Corner will be closed to traffic on Wednesday, July 25 from 5 a.m. to 5 p.m. for culvert repair.
The Washington State Department of Transportation is removing and replacing a culvert under the roadway, which will also require the removal of pavement and excavation across both lanes. This work is to prevent future shoulder washouts during high runoff, which occurs more often after a mudslide changed the drainage patterns on the hillside in Tumwater Canyon.
The closure will detour traffic to Chumstick Highway between SR 207 and Leavenworth. Vehicles over 10,000 GVW or longer than 32 feet will not be allowed on the detour and will need to use US 97 over Blewett Pass or I-90 over Snoqualmie Pass. Local deliveries will be allowed west of Plain.
Road work zone safety saves lives
- Written by Lars Erickson, Communications Director, WSDOT
Work zone safety affects every one of us and we continue to see crashes and near misses that put our workers and everyone else on the roadway in danger. Just a few weeks ago, a semi failed to notice flashing signs about a work zone in Eastern Washington and crashed into the back of one of our vehicles leaving the safety equipment a mangled mess – luckily no workers were seriously injured. Late last week we had two work zone incidents on the same project on the same day in Southwest Washington. These are just a couple of many examples I could share.
WSDOT has been sharing work zone safety messages for many years, This year we’ve partnered with the Washington Asphalt Pavement Association and the Association of General Contractors to reach a broader audience. As part of that effort, we’ve created a video to show just how quickly a moment’s inattention or distraction can have disastrous results. The video, featuring several of our own maintenance workers, is a scenario our workers and contractors see on a regular basis: https://youtu.be/H8SXTngGpZY. We’ve also shared the video on our social media channels – Twitter and Facebook.
We’ve coordinated the release of the video with one of our largest construction related closures of the summer – “Revive I-5” – last week so that drivers understand how important work zones are for the safety of our workers and how impactful their driving decisions can be to themselves and all of our employees.
We’re asking all drivers to follow these four guidelines when they’re near a work zone:
- Slow Down – drive the posted speeds, they’re there for your safety
- Be Kind – the workers are helping to improve the roadway for all drivers
- Pay Attention – to workers directing you and surrounding traffic; do not use phones or other devices while driving
- Stay Calm – expect delays, leave early and take alternate routes if possible; no meeting or appointment is work risking lives
Methow Valley State Airport reopens July 3
- Written by Christina Crea, WSDOT Aviation Communications
Phase 1 and 2 of rehabilitation project completed on time
WINTHROP – Methow Valley State Airport has a brand new runway after a 45-day temporary closure to rehabilitate the 22-year-old pavement. On May 14, Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) Aviation began the four Phased $5 million project to replace the pavement and maintain this crucial infrastructure.
Methow Valley State Airport in Winthrop is the largest of 16 WSDOT-managed airports, serving aircraft weighing up to 30,000 pounds.
Phase 1 and Phase 2 were completed on time (within the first 45 days).The runway opens in time to avoid interfering with the expected fire season operations of the United States Forest Service (USFS), conducted by North Cascades Smokejumper Base (NCSB).
Although the runway is scheduled to be open for public use by 8 p.m. on July 3, the west side taxiway connector and transient parking ramp will remain closed into August in order to complete Phase 3 for additional sub-grade and pavement overlay upgrades. Phase 3 is scheduled to be complete in August.
Limited space is being made available for transient (visiting) aircraft with prior permission in the Rams Head hangar development on the east side of the airport. Pilots are advised to check NOTAM’s and contact the airport manager for prior permission to access limited parking.
Wenatchee general contractor, Selland Construction, worked on Phases 1-2 and continues to complete Phase 3 of the project. Phase 4 to expand the west general aviation aircraft parking apron to the south was rebid in June. Timing of construction is unknown at this time.
Construction costs are split between the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) Airport Improvement Program (AIP) and WSDOT Aviation. The FAA is supporting 90 percent and WSDOT Aviation is supporting 10 percent of the total cost.