Friday, June 15, 2012

The US 12 Burbank area highway project is completed, let the celebrating begin

Elected officials and a coalition of regional supporters
 cut the ribbon representing the completion of the US 12,
 State Route 124 and Humorist Road project.
By guest blogger Mike Westbay

Burbank area drivers, residents, school administrators, business owners and elected officials all have many reasons to celebrate now that the new US 12/SR 124 interchange and Humorist Road overpass bridges are completed.

On Wednesday June 6, in the Burbank Fire Station, there were a lot of handshakes and congratulations being shared for a job well done, a major highway project completed about $1 million under budget and about two months ahead of schedule. The new interchange and overpass are the ultimate long-term solutions for the dreadful collisions and traffic flow problems on US 12, SR 124 and Humorist Road.

The $21.3 million safety improvement project reduces the risks of collisions in an area with a long history of serious injuries and fatalities – 56 injury collisions, six fatalities in the past 12 years. In 2007, Judi Estes lost her son Mike, a Walla Walla County sheriff’s deputy, who died when his car was hit by a semi-truck at the US 12/SR 124 intersection. The Estes family attended the ribbon cutting to show their support for the project that will prevent similar tragedies.

School teachers, students and parents are celebrating the fact that they can now cross over the highway safely for work or school, even on bicycles.

State Sen. Mike Hewitt, State Rep. Terry Nealy and Jim Kuntz, Port of Walla Walla executive director, joined highway department executives and the Burbank middle school band to celebrate the safety benefits of the newly completed interchange and overpass.

"Thanks go to Sen. Mike Hewitt for making the tough vote for the gas tax and fighting to bring this project to our community," said State Rep. Terry Nealy.

“It took a lot of partners a long time to get this project funded,” said Don Whitehouse, Washington State Department of Transportation regional administrator. “We also had a great partnership with Selland Construction to get a quality product that will serve this community for a long, long time to come.”

It took about 15 months to build the new interchange at US 12/SR 124 and a new overpass at US 12/Humorist Road for the 16,000 drivers who use these state highways each day.

A new entrance to Hood Park, an extension of Jantz Road and a new roundabout at the Fifth Street/Gateway Road intersection will improve traffic flow within the town of Burbank as well as access to US 12, SR 124 and Humorist Road.

This project was funded by the 2005 gas tax approved by the Legislature.