Wednesday, December 6, 2017

A look back at a busy construction year

By Barbara LaBoe

We’ve completed another year of busy maintenance and construction work. It’s a challenge to schedule all of these projects and also keep traffic moving as well as possible, and we want to once again thank all travelers for their patience and understanding while the work was done.

We need to do much of our work in the summer when our weather is most predictable. Unfortunately that is also a busy travel time and roadwork delays or detours can be frustrating. We do our best to schedule around peak travel times and events, but with so much to do during the dry season, it’s often hard to avoid at least some delays.

The amount of work accomplished each spring and summer is massive and varied – including work improving fish passage through our waterways as well as building roundabouts and making preventative repairs before major problems develop. Here’s a list of some of the most noteworthy work we accomplished this year:

I-5 corridor
I-90 corridor
Alaskan Way Viaduct
Passenger Rail
SR 520 Program
Emergency Response
Pavement Preservation
Fish Passage Improvements
Other notable projects

Interstate 5 corridor
  • Near Marysville, we paved seven miles of northbound I-5 and a couple of miles of southbound to improve roadway quality and preserve the highway. Work continues in the southbound lanes in 2018.
  • Our #ReviveI5 pavement rehab project repaved 20 lane miles (five miles of four-lane highway) and replaced 400 concrete panels as well as expansion joints on overpasses and bridges near Tukwila to improve and preserve roadway surface. Work continues next summer.
  • In Tacoma, progress continued on the HOV lanes and several related projects. Crews:
    • Opened three new bridges on northbound I-5, including the new Puyallup River Bridge, and spans over the eastbound SR 16 ramp, I-705 and SR 7.
    • Began construction of the I-5/SR 16 Realignment and Connections project, with work now one-third complete.
    • Realigned and rebuilt ramps to and from SR 7, I-705 and 26th Street.
    • Reopened the A Street ramp to I-705.
    • Opened a new ramp to SR 167 in April.
    • Activated four new ramp meters on southbound I-5 in Tacoma and Fife.
The newly constructed northbound I-5 Puyallup River Bridge opened this summer, one of three completed as part of the Tacoma/Pierce County HOV project. The SR 167 bridge is in the background.
  • Near Joint Base Lewis-McChord we extended an auxiliary lane on I-5 between Mounts Road and Center Drive near DuPont, which opened to traffic just before Thanksgiving.
  • In Olympia, crews removed and replaced the Pacific Avenue bridge approach slabs and expansion joints.
  • In Chehalis, work to replace the damaged Chamber Way overpass above I-5 began, with construction of a bypass bridge next to the existing structure. The new wider and taller overpass is scheduled to be complete next fall. The bridge was damaged by a semi truck hauling excavators in 2016.
  • Crews replaced expansion joints, installed new waterproof membrane, applied new lane striping and resurfaced bridge decks on the southbound lanes of the North Fork Lewis River Bridge near Woodland and the I-5 railroad bridge south of Kalama.
Interstate 90 corridor
In Spokane, crews replaced expansion joints and concrete approach slabs on I-90.
  • As part of the project to improve a 15-mile section of Interstate 90 from Hyak to Easton over Snoqualmie Pass, crews finished the second of two avalanche bridges in early November, allowing both directions of traffic on the bridges this winter. These elevated bridges should reduce the number of times the road is closed for avalanche prevention work this winter.
  • The second of two arches of the wildlife overcrossing across I-90 near Price Creek also was completed.
  • Near Cle Elum, we replaced 3 miles of 45-year-old concrete in the westbound I-90 lanes.
  • Crews removed approximately 15,000 square feet of material as part of the project to repair three bridge decks in the westbound lanes between the summit of Snoqualmie Pass and North Bend. This project also included replacing deteriorating concrete panels in the eastbound lanes between North Bend and the summit. Crews milled and smoothed more than 87,000 square feet of concrete. 
  • In Spokane, we replaced bridge expansion joints at the Third Avenue Bridge near Liberty Park and the downtown viaduct near Division Street. We also repaired the Third Avenue Bridge deck and approaches.
  • Crews also resurfaced pavement from the Adams County line to the Spokane County line.
Crews removed and replaced approximately 15,000 square feet of material on I-90
bridge decks between North Bend and the summit of Snoqualmie Pass this summer.
Crews began building a temporary home for the King County Water Taxi and Kitsap Transit Fast Ferry as part of the overall Coleman Dock Project on the Seattle Waterfront. This work was needed to demolish and rebuild the passenger-only ferry terminal on the south side of the dock.
  • Construction of our fourth Olympic Class ferry, Suquamish, is now about 75 percent complete and passed a significant milestone this fall when it left drydock for the first time. We’ll take delivery of the ferry in July 2018; it’s scheduled to enter service next October.
  • In June, construction began on the first phase of the Seattle Multimodal Terminal at Colman Dock Project to rebuild our aging and seismically vulnerable flagship ferry terminal. Crews began work to replace the 79-year-old wooden dock with a sturdier and safer steel and concrete trestle. The project will be complete in 2023.
  • We also started to prepare the site of the new Mukilteo ferry terminal in September, with crews removing decades-old concrete walls and installing in-water piles for the new trestle. In early 2018, crews will begin installing stormwater utility lines. The new terminal is scheduled to open in 2019.
Alaskan Way Viaduct
Tunneling machine Bertha broke through into the receiving pit in April 2017, a major milestone in the Alaskan Way Viaduct Replacement project. With Bertha’s work completed, Seattle Tunnel Partners spent the summer dismantling the machine piece-by-piece and hauling away more than 16 million pounds of machinery from the disassembly pit at the tunnel’s north portal. STP also continued building the interior structures inside the tunnel.

Passenger Rail
Work wrapped up on the nearly $800 million federally funded improvement program for our Amtrak Cascades passenger rail service this fall. The multi-year program stretched from Blaine to the Washington/Oregon border and included track and signal upgrades, station improvements, a new route in and out of Tacoma – including a new station -- and new locomotives. The result is two more daily roundtrips between Seattle and Portland starting Dec. 18, as well as shorter travel time between the cites and improved on-time performance.

SR 520 Program

After nearly 3 years of construction, the SR 520 Program delivered a new westbound bridge over Union Bay that links the new floating bridge to Seattle’s Montlake neighborhood.

After nearly three years of construction, the SR 520 Program delivered a new westbound bridge over Union Bay that links the new floating bridge to Seattle’s Montlake neighborhood. The new, 1.2-mile-long West Approach Bridge North meets modern earthquake standards and is built for 75 years of use. We opened the new bridge in stages:
  • In July, we opened a new exit lane and new off-ramps to Lake Washington Boulevard and Montlake Boulevard.
  • In August, the bridge’s mainline opened, which includes two general-purpose lanes, a transit/HOV lane and a full shoulder for disabled vehicles.
  • On Dec. 20, we’ll open the bridge’s bicycle and pedestrian path, extending the new SR 520 regional shared-use path across Lake Washington from the Eastside to Seattle.
Emergency response
In addition to planned construction and maintenance, crews also responded to emergencies such as landslides or road washouts, working on both temporary and permanent repairs.
  • A failed culvert and catastrophic washout on US 395 in Stevens County led to emergency repairs on a 500- by 100-foot deep section of destroyed roadway. The failed culvert also was replaced with a larger, fish-friendly structure.
  • A temporary Bailey bridge was placed over the flood-damaged SR 21 North Fork Sanpoil River Bridge in Eastern Washington.
  • Crews in Seattle and Issaquah responded to landslides near Spokane Street east of I-5 and a debris flow onto I-90. They also responded to a potential slide area on SR 530 near Montague Creek that required a closure until geotechs determined it was safe to reopen. Both SR 11 and SR 410 also had rockfalls that required work to clean up and remove loose rock.
  • Near Newport, a corroded arch support on the SR 25 Columbia River Bridge required emergency repairs and road restrictions for several months.
  • Emergency repairs were also needed on SR 20 Loup Loup Pass after a series of slides, washouts and flooding damaged several sections of roadway. Many hillsides in the area were scarred from previous years’ fires, exacerbating the damage caused by heavy rain.
Pavement preservation work
Besides large projects, we also complete on-going pavement replacement and preservation work each summer, improving road surfaces and extending the life of our roadways.

I-5 bridge resurfacing work near Woodland and Kalama was one of the many pavement and bridge improvement projects our crews completed this summer.
  • We paved, replaced expansion joints and improved road surfaces across the northwest corner of our state, including work in or near Whidbey Island, Sedro-Woolley, Marysville, Renton, Enumclaw and Everett to name just a few. In total for the six-county – Whatcom, Skagit, Snohomish, King, San Juan and Island – area  we paved 247 miles of roadway (including areas where several lanes of one stretch were paved).
  • Further south we repaved 62 miles worth of pavement in Grays Harbor, Kitsap, Pierce and Thurston counties and chip sealed another 146 miles worth of roadway in Clallam, Grays Harbor and Mason counties.
  • In the southwest section of our state we repaved, chip sealed or replaced concrete panels on 495 miles of roadway, as well as other related improvements. This included work on SR 7 between Morton and Elbe and paving work on Padden Parkway (SR 500) in Vancouver.
Crews replaced four culverts under SR 7 near Morton using a “pipe bursting” technique that avoided excavation by breaking and relining, which saved time and money and was better for long-term maintenance.
  • In south central Washington crews also paved approximately 187 lane miles and chip-sealed 214 lane miles in Kittitas, Yakima, Benton, Franklin, Walla Walla, Clarkston and Asotin counties.
  • Crews also chip sealed 210 miles on eight highways in Chelan, Douglas, Grant and Okanogan counties in the north central part of the state. That work also included building a two-mile long passing lane on SR 28 at Spanish Orchards, and strengthened the road bed under the new surface of SR 283.
  • On the eastern side of the state we repaved or repaired more than 29 miles of roadway on projects including US 2, SR 270, SR 290, US 395 and SR 904. Work also included turn-lane improvements on US 2 from SR 206 to Day-Mt. Spokane Road.

Crews pave a section of I-5 as part of the #ReviveI5 pavement rehab project between Kent and Tukwila this summer.
Fish passage improvements
We continued to make progress on replacing culverts with larger structures to allow fish to move more freely. More information and a map of all project sites is available on our fish passage website. This year’s work took place at:
  • SR 8 at Wildcat Creek near McCleary
  • US 101 at Matriotti Creek near Sequim
  • SR 112 at Nordstrom Creek in Clallam County
  • I-5 at Fisher Creek in Skagit County
  • SR 202 over Little Bear Creek near Woodinville
  • I-90 at the North Fork Issaquah Creek
  • SR 531 at Edgecomb Creek near Arlington
  • SR 532 at Church Creek near Stanwood.
  • SR 542 at Hedrick Creek In Whatcom County
  • SR 900 at Green Creek near Renton.
Other notable projects
  • In Spokane, work began constructing two US 395 freeway bridges over Freya Street north of Francis Avenue, part of a multi-year improvement project for the North Spokane Corridor in that area. Work will continue into 2019.
  • Several improvements were made to US 12 this summer:
    • From Randall to White Pass we resurfaced 24 miles to extend the life of the highway. A portion completed the chip seal project begun last year, while an area between Packwood and White Pass was repaved a season sooner than planned due to extensive winter pavement damage.
    • Between Packwood and Rimrock we repaired culverts and drainage, repaved 14 miles and removed 1,400 tons of loose rock and material above US 12 near the Rimrock Tunnel.
  • Two projects on US 2 improved and resurfaced the roadway:
    • Eight miles of roadway were repaved starting just west of Fern Bluff Road in Sultan and ending near Tenth Street in Gold Bar.
    • Three segments of roadway – nearly 17 miles total – were resurfaced between Gold Bar and Skykomish.
  • On US 195 from Colfax to Spangle we added a passing lane in each direction near Steptoe.
  • We added roundabouts at the SR 150 and No See-Um Road intersection near Chelan as well as the SR 28 and Fifth Street intersection in East Wenatchee to improve traffic flow and reduce collisions.
  • Crews on the SR 104 Hood Canal Bridge adjusted and aligned guide rollers used to operate the drawspan for marine traffic. Workers also will replace worn gearboxes and hydraulic hoses as part of this important preservation work.
  • The two Sol Doc River Bridges north of Forks on US 101 were cleaned and got fresh coats of evergreen paint, protecting the bridges from the elements.
  • We constructed a stabilizing rock buttress wall and resurfaced two damaged sections of roadway located at the far west end of SR 112 near Sekiu.
The majority of our work is done for the year, but we’re already planning for next year’s construction and preservation work. We’ll once again be out and about preserving or improving many areas and we ask you to remember to slow down and stay alert anytime you’re in a work zone. We want to keep you and our workers safe – and to focus on the work that makes traveling safer and more efficient for everyone.