Thursday, July 26, 2007

US 12, White Pass Closes

This wasn't exactly how it was planned. But nonetheless, contractors working to repair a slide are on US 12, just west of the summit at White Pass, will have to keep the highway closed for several days and possibly through the weekend (Note: The roadway re-opened to traffic late Sunday, July 29).

This is very bad news for local residents. We are notifying local communities as best we can about the closure. But the road can't open with the unstable slope.

Even worse, SR 123 is closed due to rockslides that happened last winter that aren't repaired (see photo). That means major detours for people who have to get across White Pass this weekend.

We're sorry the inconvenience. But when we begin working on a slide repair like this one - even with the best pre-construction analysis - some times Mother Nature has a surprise.

Visit the project web site for more information. And check 5-1-1 on your telephone through the weekend in case workers - who will be working straight through until this is repaired - are able to finish ahead of their worst-case scenario.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Share Your Plans for Major I-5 Construction in Seattle

We're counting down the days to around-the clock lane closures on northbound I-5 Aug. 10-29. This week crews are removing and replacing an actual expansion joint so they can troubleshoot any problems so work can go smoothly when it counts.

We hope you'll test and troubleshoot your plans now so that taking the bus, traveling an alternate route or logging into work from home will go smoothly during the 19 straight days of closures.

Tell us about your plans and share your troubleshooting commute experiences with us and each other on this blog. Everyone has a unique commute from their door to their destination but we all share the same roads. Your experience my help someone else get through this construction.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Enjoy the walk, and then the drive

Five years ago this week, I was fortunate to help organize an event celebrating the signing of the contract that officially began the construction phase of the new Tacoma Narrows Bridge. The ceremony took place July 16, 2002 at Tacoma Community College. A few television cameras huddled in a non-descript room to capture the comments and signatures of the top managers at the WSDOT and the contractor.

This weekend, the culmination of more than 3.5 million man hours will unveil itself in a tremendous display. We think possibly 40,000 people will walk the bridge. A far cry from a few managers in a conference room!

The opening celebration is earning coverage from around the country. Television trucks and technicians will pull up to specially designated parking areas. Reporters with notepads in hand will crawl all over the bridge. Photographers will be snapping pictures. A million stories will walk across the bridge on Sunday.

But for me, a guy who writes press releases for a living and some times blogs, the biggest event comes Monday when the bridge opens to traffic. This bridge - the longest suspension bridge built in the United States since the 1960s - was built for cars and trucks. I can't wait to see traffic free flowing across the bridge.

The citizens of Gig Harbor deserve our thanks for their patience during this construction. I suppose it is little solace that the community had a front-row seat for the five-year-long construction show? It probably remains little comfort that today the community has another amazing monument to modern engineering - a living example of man's desire to cross to the other side? After all, each trip from Gig Harbor to Tacoma will cost $3 (unless you have a Good To Go! account).

Five years ago, signing the paperwork seemed like such a long walk before the bridge opened to traffic. On Sunday morning, my wife, son and I will join so many of you on the final steps before we reach our goal.

Enjoy the walk. I'll see you there!