Friday, September 14, 2012

New interchange at SR 500 signals safety improvements for Vancouver drivers

by guest blogger Heidi Sause

Celebrating safer drives at SR 500 and St. Johns Blvd.
Secretary Paula Hammond, local elected officials and several
project neighbors opened the interchange to
drivers three months early on Sept. 12.
At WSDOT, we value efficiency, sustainability, transparency and responsibility. But above all else, we value safety.

There are other values that govern the way we do business, and we recently cut the ribbon on a project in Vancouver that embodies many of these attributes. But at its core, the project advances our commitment to safety.

On Wednesday, Sept. 12, crews opened a new interchange at SR 500 and St. Johns Boulevard. The interchange was open to drivers three months ahead of schedule. This accomplishment was due in large part to the incredible planning and management of our prime contractor, Tapani Underground Inc.

But the real accomplishment is that the interchange replaces a traffic signal on the busy highway. For years, this location averaged more than 50 collisions a year. Many of those collisions occurred in the backups that clogged the highway when drivers had to stop at a red light.

During the past 15 months, crews raised St. Johns Blvd., built a bridge over the highway and completed four new interchange ramps. The end result is a grade-separated interchange that erased the traffic signal from one of the busiest highways in Vancouver.

The new interchange alleviates backups and makes a huge leap toward reducing collisions for 65,000 daily drivers. This was no small feat, and we’re pretty proud of the end result.

We joined elected officials, stakeholders and the local community to celebrate the early opening at a ribbon cutting ceremony on Sept. 12, but the celebration didn’t end when those scissors snipped the ribbon. It was renewed when crews pulled barrels from the roadway and drivers rolled onto the new ramps – that’s an achievement that will be quietly celebrated for years to come.

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