By Meagan Lott
It’s already late January and Snoqualmie Pass has only received about six feet of snow. There should be at least 17 feet of snow by now, so you could say it’s been a mild winter so far.
Although this isn’t good news for skiers, snowboarders and winter recreationalists, it’s pretty good news for us. Our contractor, Atkinson Construction, has been able to keep working on the I-90 Snoqualmie Pass East project, which is widening I-90 from four to six lanes and building two new bridges to keep avalanches from hitting the roadway.
Due to snow and the rising water level of Keechelus Lake, crews usually have to wrap-up construction by mid-October. However, the mild weather allowed crews to extend their construction schedule by more than two months and work right up to the first part of January.
Crews were able to finish installing all nine of the bridge piers needed for the new eastbound avalanche bridges just as the water levels of Keechelus Lake started rising. The extra time spent working this winter will allow crews a little bit of a head start when construction to install the girders of the bridge deck resumes this spring.
But the bridge piers aren’t the only major progress crews made on the I-90 project. A number of structural walls were constructed to make room for new lanes including a major wall for the new westbound lanes, more rock slopes above the roadway were stabilized and the westbound bridge at Resort Creek started to take shape.
Although the I-90 project is progressing, crews still have quite a bit of work ahead of them. Starting this spring crews will continue building new lanes and bridges and stabilizing rock slopes. This portion of I-90 is schedule to be complete and open to traffic in 2018.
This spring will also mark a major milestone when crews break ground on the next two miles of the I-90 project, which continues widening the roadway east and includes one of the first wildlife crossings in the state to be built over the roadway.