Ever heard of a rolling slow down?

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

We get great questions from time to time that are worth having a bigger conversation about.  Dr. David Parks recently asked, "Why are you doing "rolling slowdowns" on I-90 Snoqualmie Pass even on weekends?  This last Saturday, the roads were totally clear (no ice, no snow, no avalanches, no construction), and I encountered a 20 minute "delay" behind your wonderful DOT trucks traveling 20 mph down the road?"

Our Assistant Maintenance Superintendent for the North Bend to Vantage area, Harry Nelson, took the time to answer his question:

We generally experience high traffic volumes on the  I-90 corridor, ( 15,000 to 40,000 vehicles daily ), and sometimes during peak travel times more. They also average 75 plus mph on any given day unless weather will not allow, even then some still attempt this speed. With these high volumes, and fast pace, emergent work, (potholes, debris, disabled vehicles, etc.), can become quite a challenge for our crews.

Rolling Slow Downs are a safe way for us to accomplish our emergent work with little impact. It appears that our vehicles are just holding you up for no reason. I assure you that is not the case at all. What you did not see is the emergent work ahead of our trucks being done on the roadway. This could have been a pothole, or any other incident that would cause damage to a vehicle, cause an accident, or be a safety issue to the traveling public. As you stated “they hold you back at 20 mph,” when the work you do not see ahead of you is complete, they get out of your way and let you go and you may never see the workers ahead of you that were doing the emergent activity. These slowdowns average 5 to 8 minutes. These slowdowns are designed for short duration work, so not to delay the public and keep our crews and the public safe. While you are traveling 20 mph behind our vehicles, our crew is doing this work without anyone driving through their work zone.

Safety is our #1 priority.

If we were to close a lane to do this short duration work, the traffic delays would be significantly longer, maybe even 1 to 2 hours longer added to your travel time in peak traffic situations. Instead we prefer the 5 to 8 minute delay, as you can understand why, less inconvenience to you, and safer for our crews. I hope this helps you understand that what looks like wasted time, may prevent an accident, unnecessary damage to a vehicle, or bodily injury either to the public or our workers.

Again our main concern is SAFETY to all, and not to inconvenience anyone.

So if you see one of our trucks or crews out there on the road, be sure to take the time and give them a brake.


Anonymous said...

Great explanation! I was wondering this too.

Anonymous said...

why are the rolling slow down times not posted I commute across Snoqualmie pass daily. I schedule my day around the evening pass closures, should I have to work around daily unscheduled rolling slow downs as well?

WSDOT said...

Sorry about your travel delays! Summertime spells construction season. For a complete list of traffic impacts, visit the following sites:

quhawk said...

Rolling slowdowns starting at 200pm for 800pm closing?? Makes no sense...period. And very annoying.
Our state dollars hard at work...being spent on unnecessary extra time.

dan craigen said...

If the lowest posted speed limit through that section is 55 mph, why do the rolling slowdowns only travel at 25 mph? The posted speed is what we should be doing, not less than one half. If there are a few individuals who exceed the limit through the construction zone, get a couple of troopers posted there with radar and enforce the speed limit on the violators (double fines in construction zones)instead of punishing everyone!

kevin d said...

Summer time is peak tax revenue season, and by slowing down traffic to 20mph the tax dollars are rolling in with more gas sales.

Anonymous said...

I've been stalled by these obnoxious slowdowns too many times, and can see no rationale. Your explanation is lame and not believable. These slow us down for many miles, stacking up trucks and slow moving cars. Way to piss travelers off!!

Bobbi S. said...

I don't mind the rolling slowdowns and I travel the pass regularly.I do mind the idiots speeding over the pass weaving in and out-feels like the Indianapolis 500.I like to travel quickly also but it might not hurt to have a couple of squad cars driving the pass regularly. Probably there are-I just don't see them. Thanks for trying to be safe.

joe said...

Tell us about the New Led lights

Joseph Nichols, Jr. said...

What about the led lights inc the road. How many miles you going to do that. Will they work in the winter?

Anonymous said...

How many miles of led lights?

Anonymous said...

Is there a traffic contol plan for the rolling slow downs?

WSDOT said...

We do have a traffic control plan for rolling slowdowns. When a rolling slowdown is needed to move equipment or material crews radio the pilot cars. The pilot cars then slow traffic down until the equipment or material is moved across the road and then traffic is released. There isn’t a set time of day when rolling slowdowns occur, they typically happened when equipment or material needs to be moved, which is throughout the day Monday through Friday.

Anonymous said...

The WSDOT is not your Mommy,
Get up and leave a little earlier.
It's a beautiful drive.


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