By guest blogger Meagan McFadden
It’s done - the first 3 miles on Interstate 90 east of Snoqualmie Pass. In 520 days the contractor removed 1 million cubic yards of material, blasted 400,000 pounds of explosives during 177 hours of lane closures and poured 68,000 cubic yards of concrete to finish a brand new stretch of six lanes.
We celebrated the major milestone with project partners, elected officials and local business leaders on October 10. The completion of this 3-mile stretch is part of a $551 million project, funded by the 2005 gas tax, to improve reliability and safety between Hyak and Keechelus Dam.
However, with a major milestone complete on the project, we still have a couple more miles to go, scheduled to be finished in 2018. This stretch will reduce road closures caused by avalanches with the construction of two new bridges, add a lot more room for vehicles with a new lane in each direction and improve safety by getting the rock slopes stabilized. We will also improve movement of people, fish and wildlife with new bridges and culverts.
The improvements to the I-90 corridor don’t stop at Keechelus Dam. The Legislature allocated funding in the 2013 Transportation Budget to continue expanding I-90 to the Cabin Creek interchange. This stretch includes the first wildlife overcrossing to be constructed in the state. Construction is scheduled to begin 2015 and finish in 2019.
Although 3 miles of the project is complete, we still have a little more construction to do before we can call it quits for the season. The contractor is cleaning up the construction site in preparation for winter. Closures for rock blasting are scheduled to be complete by mid-October, but you will experience minor delays due to single-lane closures and rolling slowdowns through November.