Thursday, May 11, 2017

Why all the construction on I-90?

by Meagan Lott

You may have already heard we have a lot of construction taking place this summer on I-90 between North Bend and Ellensburg. But you may be wondering why we are doing all this work? Good question.

The projects

Snoqualmie Pass East improvements: Traffic congestion is a huge issue on I-90 east of Snoqualmie Pass, especially during major holidays and summer weekends. The multi-year project we have been working on between Hyak and Easton is going to relieve that congestion by widening I-90 from four to six lanes. We are also removing rock from the slopes above I-90 to stabilize the hillside and prevent rocks from falling onto the roadway – hence all the nighttime blasting closures over the years. Rock blasting isn’t expected to start until June and you can check our What’s Happening on I-90 webpage for specific days and times. This project is also building bridges, some even for wildlife and avalanches. The first seven miles of this 15-mile project is scheduled to be complete by 2019. You won’t see construction on the remaining eight miles for another couple of years. We are still working on the design.
Summer is a busy time for traffic across I-90 but it’s also a busy time for construction work on the corridor.

Cle Elum to Elk Heights pavement repair: Work continues between Cle Elum and the Elk Heights area to replace cracked sections of the westbound lanes. If you have ever driven on this section of I-90, you know how rough it is as the pavement along that stretch is more than 45 years old. We started work on this section of I-90 last summer and will be finished by this fall.

North Bend to Snoqualmie Pass pavement and bridge repair: Later in May, we will be working on another rough section of I-90 from North Bend to the summit of Snoqualmie Pass. We will be replacing pavement on the eastbound lanes and repairing several bridge decks in the westbound lanes as well as a bridge deck in the eastbound lanes just east of North Bend. We are also going to be making repairs to bridge decks between Easton and Ellensburg. A lot of our bridge decks have taken a beating over the years and can cause a very bumpy ride.

We opened one new avalanche bridge on I-90 across Snoqualmie Pass last August, and another will be complete in 2018.

Why during the summer?
Obviously summer is a popular time for people to be traveling and I-90 is a heavily-used route for that. At the same time, we need dry, warmer weather for much of this work, in particular the extensive pavement and bridge deck repair as warm temperatures are much more conducive to concrete setting correctly and lasting long term.

It’s impossible to do this type of work, especially this time of year, without there being traffic backups. We have to close lanes to get this done and to keep our work crews and travelers safe. We hope knowing about the improvements we’re making to I-90 will take some of the sting and frustration out of being stuck in traffic.
Much of the work on I-90 this summer involves replacing aged and cracked pavement, giving travelers a smoother trip.

That said, we have many resources to help you plan your trip across I-90 this summer. We have information about construction on multiple websites, including the What’s Happening on I-90, Snoqualmie Mountain Pass and Traffic Alerts pages. Follow us on Twitter @snoqualmiepass and @wsdot_east or sign up for email updates or subscribe to our text message alerts by sending the phrase “WSDOT Snoqualmie” to the number 468311.



Can you tell me when the North Bend to Snoqualmie Pass bridge repair project will be completed.

WSDOT said...

Hey VIGILANT MUSICIAN, the project between North Bend and the summit of Snoqualmie Pass is replacing deteriorating concrete and bridge decks. This is a two season project and will be finished for this season in mid-October and resume work next spring and be finished by next fall. The detour that is currently in place in the westbound lanes will be removed by Sept. 15. Currently, the bridge decks in the westbound lanes are torn-up and we can’t put traffic on them until concrete is placed and cured.

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