Wednesday, December 28, 2016

What we got done in 2016

By Barbara LaBoe

As 2016 comes to an end, it's a perfect time to look back at what we accomplished during the busy summer and fall construction seasons. We know it's never easy when we close lanes to get work done, and we couldn't do it without your patience and understanding so a sincere thanks for your cooperation. Those few months with predictable dry weather is often the only times we can do some of this work but the payoff is improvements to our highway system for everyone.

Along the way we resurfaced pavement, replaced expansion joints, installed roundabouts and even improved travel for fish by replacing culverts. So what specifically did we get done? Here's a highlight list of the work taxpayers invested in:

Interstate 5 corridor
  • In the "#SnoCoSqueeze," we replaced 41 aging expansion joints on the Interstate 5 bridges between Everett and Marysville. With an expected lifespan of up to 25 years, the new expansion joints improve the safety of these bridges for motorists.
  • The first phase of the "#SouthKingSlowdown" work to rehabilitate more than 13 miles of southbound I-5 between Tukwila and Federal Way was completed during five weekends of lane reductions. Crews repaved nearly three miles of the roadway, replaced hundreds of concrete panels and replaced expansion joints. The work continues into 2017.
  • In Tacoma, we made good progress on the two HOV projects, including opening the new Pacific Avenue overpass spanning I-5 and beginning demolition of the McKinley Way overpass.
  • Crews also continued our environmental cleanup work by removing a concrete-lined vault of petroleum-contaminated soil as part of our HOV project work. The vault was from the original Interstate 705 construction and its removal continued work that began in 2013 when two other vaults were removed.
  • Less than two weeks after the Chamber Way overpass in Chehalis was severely damaged by an oversized load and closed to traffic, we reopened the road using a temporary bridge. Work on the permanent replacement begins next year.
  • Along the southwest Washington part of the corridor, improvements included:
    • A new I-205 interchange at NE 18th Street in Vancouver
    • A wider, safer SR 502 between I-5 and Battle Ground
    • I-5 safety and congestion-relief work in Centralia
    • High friction surface treatment added along the I-205/SR 14 interchange in Vancouver to improve traction in the rain
In less than two weeks we reopened the I-5 Chamber Way overpass in Chehalis using a
temporary bridge as the overpass was severely damaged by an oversized load.
Interstate 90 corridor
  • As part of the project to improve a 15-mile section of Interstate 90 from Hyak to Easton over Snoqualmie Pass, crews finished one of two new avalanche bridges in early August. This elevated bridge should reduce the number of times the road is closed for avalanche prevention work.
  • Crews also completed the first arch of the wildlife overcrossing across I-90.  
  • Painting of the Vantage Bridge – which protects and preserves the 52-year-old structure – also was completed this summer and fall. The bridge carries an average of 14,000 vehicles a day and is a vital part of the I-90 corridor.
  • We replaced deteriorating concrete and asphalt along three miles of westbound I-90 lanes near Cle Elum.
  • The new I-90 westbound Freya Street off-ramp in Spokane also opened to traffic, helping to solve congestion and air quality problems from idling vehicles. The new off-ramp creates a more efficient intersection.
The first of two new avalanche bridges on I-90 over Snoqualmie Pass opened in August,
reducing the need to close the highway for avalanche prevention work.
  • We're continuing work to replace some of the oldest vessels in the fleet. The third Olympic Class vessel, Chimacum, was christened in September and is nearing completion. The keel laying for the fourth vessel, the Suquamish, took place in May and is now about 30 percent complete.
  • Decades old terminals got some much needed updates and improvements. At Coupeville, seismic upgrades were made on the structures that raise and lower the moveable bridge between the ferry and the dock. The terminal dock at Vashon also received upgrades to better withstand earthquakes, and safety improvements were made for passengers who arrive by bus, as well as for those with disabilities.
  • Progress is being made on multimodal projects that will result in more seamless connections between transit, ferry and other modes of transportation. At Mukilteo, the first stage of prep work for the terminal replacement at a former tank farm site was completed. And final design and pre-construction work for the Seattle Multimodal Terminal at Colman Dock means we'll be ready to start construction in spring 2017.
We celebrated the christening of the Chimacum, our third Olympic Class ferry, in September.
Pavement preservation work
  • Crews also repaved more than 50 total miles of several highways from South King County all the way north to Blaine. Drivers will benefit from a smoother driving surface, fewer potholes and cracks and fresh reflective striping.
  • Crews completed paving projects on I-5 through Tacoma as well as on both the SR 16 Tacoma Narrows Bridges.
  • Crews paved a total of 39 miles of road on several highways in Lewis, Clark and Klickitat counties and chip sealed 63.5 total miles of roadway in Clark, Cowlitz and Wahkiakum counties.
  • More than 20 miles of roadway on four highways near the Tri-Cities were repaved.
  • We rehabilitated bridge decks on seven of the 11 bridges on State Route 153 between Pateros and Twisp in Okanogan County, removing and replacing the asphalt overlay, waterproof membrane and expansion joints.
  • Crews used chip seal to resurface 43 miles of highway in Chelan, Douglas and Grant counties.
  • Crews installed centerline and shoulder rumble strips, sealed pavement and replaced plastic pavement markings on six highways in the north central part of the state, including US 2 and State Route 20.
Crews worked hard to get the new Pacific Avenue overpass in Tacoma opened this summer.
Fish passage improvements
  • Crews replaced one culvert on SR 532 near Stanwood that blocked fish passage and work is underway on two more projects to eliminate fish barriers.
  • We removed 11 culverts or other fish barriers across state highways in Pierce, Thurston, Mason, Kitsap and Clallam counties, providing miles of new fish habitat and easier access for underwater creatures. Some projects required total highway closures to allow crews access to the work site.
  • In Whatcom County, we also finished up work on a fish passage improvement project on High Creek at State Route 542.
A new, and much-larger, fish culvert opened on SR 532 near Stanwood, greatly improving the habitat in the area.
Other notable projects
  • Several sections of US 12 on White Pass damaged in December were repaired between mileposts 141 and 165. Repairs included a retaining wall, drainage restoration, traffic barriers and repaving.
  • The Pilchuck River is no longer threatening to take out SR 92 west of Granite Falls. The riverbank has been crumbling away for many years. It's taken out a house and several outbuildings. Crews stabilized the riverbank by rebuilding it and reinforcing it with 30 foot logs chained to huge boulders embedded in the river bed and new plantings.
  • A roundabout was installed at the SR 224/225 intersections in Benton City, with crews also adding a park and ride lot and improved lighting and sidewalks. This is the first of two phases of the Red Mountain Interchange Improvements.
  • In the Spokane area, we constructed a new roundabout at the intersection of Wellesley Avenue and Freya Street in northeast Spokane. The roundabout replaces stop signs at this busy intersection and widens both streets, providing more efficient travel through the area, especially for large trucks traveling to and from nearby industrial and distribution businesses.
We rebuilt and stabilized the riverbank of the Pilchuck River, which was threatening to take out SR 92 near Granite Falls.
Our major work is done for this year but crews are already planning for another round of construction and preservation projects in the summer and fall of 2017. We'll spend the next few months prepping for that work to be ready during the dry construction-friendly weather window.

We look forward to making even more improvements for the traveling public and, as always, thank drivers for their patience and understanding during the process.


Jeff Lykken said...

We are still dealing with the biggest mistake in transportation history; the extortion toll lanes on I405 and you still have not fixed that nor admitted that it has been a complete failure and has created more congestion and made things worse. If I were you I would focus on getting this disaster fixed ASAP. We would all be better off if the extortion toll lanes were suspended ASAP. The new and improved configuration would be 4 general purpose lanes and 1 HOV lane.

Jeff Gray said...

Hmm, seems odd that you omitted the 405 debacle even though you have been trumpeting it as a success with all your bogus reports and propaganda. Is this is a sign that even the dim bulbs at W$DOT are beginning to realize that it is an EPIC failure?

Vince R said...

All great success stories. There were a few failures as well.... depending on if you believe in the statistics presented by WSDOT to declare succes on Good-to-Park... the 405 traffic saga...

Or if you can do simple math and look at the clock in your car, where you will see the impact of WSDOT new approach to 'improve' traffic is to slow down most of the traffic, except those that can afford to pay to bypass the mess created by the 'solution'.

I am still pushing for a class action lawsuit to force WSDOT to post the real numbers that match what we typically experience traveling along 405 now... verses what they claim... here's a hint, it isn't better than it used to be.

I also found it insulting to declare victory 1 year into a 2 year STUDY and use that to justify more projects of a similar nature. It still smacks of payola and from what I can tell, should be a violation of the state RCWs.

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