Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Changes to the new SR 520 Trail? You decide!

By Steve Peer

UPDATE
Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2019 at 11:40 am 


Earlier this month crews replaced all 27 of the narrow expansion joint covers on the SR 520 trail.  We’ve already heard from several riders who have said they like the covers better; now we’d like to hear from you. Shoot us an e-mail, send us a DM on Twitter or add to the comments below and let us know your before and after experience. And thanks for your patience as we (re)designed the new plates, tested one, got your feedback and then fabricated and installed them.

UPDATE
Wednesday, Dec. 27 at 8:40 a.m.
We've tied green ribbon on the railing adjacent to the new plate to make it stand out. A sign has been added, and “test” has been spray-painted on the new plate as well.

Thank you for your continued feedback! So far we've heard from more than 220 of you who want us to replace the existing plates, and less than 10 who say you see no difference/the old plates are fine.


State Route 520's new trail across Lake Washington has garnered high praise from more than 300,000 users since its December 2017 opening. Bike riders, runners, dog walkers and folks out for a relaxing stroll tell us they're delighted to have a new, foot-powered trail with scenic lake and mountain views. And many pedal-pushing commuters say the new trail, as an alternative to I-90's cross-lake connection, is cutting significant time off their daily treks between the Eastside and Seattle.

There's one aspect of the path that's not getting rave reviews: the narrow steel plates covering the trail's expansion joints on the bridge. Some bike riders tell us the plates are jolting, especially for road bikes with skinny, highly inflated tires. I've ridden the trail myself, several times, and experienced the thump of each joint cover.

I'm glad to report that we're working on a remedy. Our engineers developed and installed a prototype plate designed to ease the bumps cyclists experience while crossing the floating bridge. The new cover plate design won't completely eliminate the bumps – but it should produce a marked improvement.

That's where you come in. Now that the prototype cover plate is installed, we're asking riders to #RateThePlate. After biking over the replacement plate (located near the east end of the bridge) we're asking riders to text us at (206) 200-9484 to rate their experience with two options:
  • This is an improvement, upgrade all similar plates: text "A"
  • I didn't notice a difference/the old plates are fine: text "B"
We'll solicit feedback through the end of the year. If we hear that the plate provides a better ride, we'll manufacture and install replacements for all 27 existing narrow cover plates.
A side by side comparison of the prototype (left) and the existing expansion joint cover plate (right)

Why the path has cover plates
The roadway on the new, 1.5-mile-long floating bridge has expansion joints on each end of the 23 massive, concrete pontoons supporting the structure. The joints allow the bridge to expand (or contract) horizontally as air and water temperatures change. They also allow the bridge to flex vertically as the lake's water level rises or falls. On the shared-use trail, there's an open gap at each joint that varies in width from about 2 to 4 inches. Left exposed, a gap of that size could be hazardous to someone with a cane, a skateboarder, or other trail users. So we added cover plates over each joint to address the safety risk that open gaps would pose.

The trail's existing steel cover plates are a half-inch thick, with a flat top, beveled edges and a rough, nonskid surface. When designing the bridge, we used federal guidelines to ensure the plates' compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The plates also play a role in the integrity of the bridge itself. The roadway and shared-use path are elevated 20 feet or more above the lake's surface. This design feature keeps vehicles, bike riders and pedestrians wave-free during windstorms. It also gives our crews ample room for inspection and maintenance of the pontoons below.

Because the bridge deck is elevated – up to 70 feet on the east high-rise near Medina – we use a special truck, equipped with an extendable, hinged arm and crew basket, for inspecting the underside of the bridge. This 3-ton vehicle travels along the trail for these inspections, so the cover plates must be strong enough to support its weight. Moreover, emergency vehicles, including fire trucks, might have to use the trail if a major incident blocked the roadway.
An under-bridge inspection truck

A tale of two trails
A few bicyclists have asked us why the older, narrower shared-use trail on the I-90 floating bridge is smoother than the new SR 520 Trail – without the expansion-joint bumps. The answer, once again, relates to SR 520's elevated roadway.

In the same way traffic moved on the old SR 520 floating bridge, all I-90 traffic crossing Lake Washington – including bicycles – travels directly on the pontoons' concrete surface. That means there are no heavy trucks making under-bridge inspections from I-90's shared-use path – and no need for sturdy cover plates on that path's expansion joints.

The new SR 520 Trail is a wonderful addition to the region's expanding network of trails, and we want your experience of riding the trail to be fabulous as well. Be sure to #RateThePlate after your next ride!

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Change means more room to roam for SR 20 winter adventurers

UPDATES
Tuesday, March 26
Due to warmer weather and clearing work from our maintenance crews, we moved the western SR 20 North Cascades Highway seasonal closure gate from milepost 130 to milepost 134. Crews are currently working to determine a date to begin the annual process of reopening the highway. Check the North Cascades Highway webpage for updates.



Thursday, Feb. 7
Due to the weekend forecast for heavy snow, strong winds and cold temperatures throughout western Washington, our crews will move the western SR 20 North Cascades Highway seasonal closure gate west from milepost 134 to milepost 130 at 4 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 7. To access to the closed section of highway, skiers, snowmobilers and other users can park at this location near Colonial Creek Campground/Thunder Knob Trailhead.

Thursday, Jan. 31
The extended forecast for the week of Feb. 4, 2019 does call for some low-level snow and cold temperatures in the Diablo area. Crews will continue to clear SR 20 between mileposts 130 and 134 until significant snow or ice builds on the roads. At that time, for the safety of travelers and crew, they will move the seasonal closure gate to milepost 130. We will update this post if that happens.

Thursday, Jan. 24
Based on the extended forecast for the week of Jan. 28, 2019 we’ve determined snowfall along SR 20 near milepost 130 is not expected to be significant enough for winter recreation. Therefore, barring a change in the forecast and significant snowfall at lower elevations, the seasonal closure point on the west side of SR 20 will remain at milepost 134 until at least Monday, Feb. 4.

Thursday, Jan. 17
Based on the extended forecast for the week of Jan. 21, 2019 we’ve determined snowfall along SR 20 near milepost 130 is not expected to be significant enough for winter recreation. Therefore, barring a change in the forecast and significant snowfall at lower elevations, the seasonal closure point on the west side of SR 20 will remain at milepost 134 until at least Monday, Jan. 28.

Thursday, Jan. 10
Based on the extended forecast for the week of Jan. 14, 2019 we’ve determined snowfall along SR 20 near milepost 130 is not expected to be significant enough for winter recreation. Therefore, barring a change in the forecast and significant snowfall at lower elevations, the seasonal closure point on the west side of SR 20 will remain at milepost 134 until at least Tuesday, Jan. 22, following the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend.

Friday, Jan. 4
Based on the extended forecast for the week of Jan. 7, 2019 we’ve determined snowfall along SR 20 near milepost 130 is not expected to be significant enough for winter recreation. Therefore, barring a change in the forecast and significant snowfall at lower elevations, the seasonal closure point on the west side of SR 20 will remain at milepost 134 until at least Monday, Jan. 14.

Thank you to everyone for your feedback. We heard you. Here are the changes we’re making in response:
  • We will close the gates on SR 20 at milepost 134 just as we have every year when the avalanche risk increases.
  • We are committed to keeping the western closure point at that location through at least Jan. 2, 2019.
  • After Jan. 2 we will continue to keep the road open to the gate at milepost 134 until there is significant snowfall to the west, to alleviate concerns about large patches of bare pavement beyond the new closure point at milepost 130.
  • We have heard from many snowmobilers concerned with the change in our operation. We are working with local snowmobile groups to attend/plan a meeting next month to discuss your concerns and talk more in depth about the issues we face on SR 20 while accommodating winter users.

By Andrea E. Petrich

Picture this.

Nothing but blue sky overhead as the bright Pacific Northwest sunshine reflects off jagged mountain peaks and snowfields that are hugging the steep edges of mountains in Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest and North Cascades National Park. You move forward and listen to the crunch of hard winter snow under your snowshoes as you breathe in the near-freezing temperatures your properly bundled fingers and toes don’t even notice.

SR 20 North Cascades Highway includes a 35-plus mile stretch of state highway that closes to vehicles each winter due to avalanche risk. During that closure the area remains open to skiers, snowmobilers, snowshoers, fat-bikers and other winter adventurers to enjoy at their own risk. This winter season, there will be almost four more miles available for those winter activities!
During the SR 20 seasonal highway closure snowshoers, skiers, snowmobilers
 and other winter adventurers use the closed section of highway.
A new closure point
When we first close the highway this season, the closure point will still be at milepost 134 near the Ross Dam Trail. But in January, our maintenance crew will move the western closure point back to the western side of Diablo Lake’s Thunder Arm near The Thunder Knob Trailhead and Colonial Creek Campground, near milepost 130.
The new closure point on SR 20 is at an elevation of 1,410 feet,
 four miles west of the old gate at elevation 2,120.
This new location still provides adequate parking for those who are unloading snowmobiles or otherwise starting their chilly adventure, but it does mean that the start of the closure area is an uphill climb – so you’ll be able to shed those warming layers quicker than you could in the past. The eastern end will close at milepost 171 in Mazama but will also move back to milepost 178 once snow depth increases and becomes too deep for snow blowers. That usually happens in January, meaning there will be 48 miles of traffic-free highway for you to enjoy a winter workout.

The new closure point is at milepost 130, just past Colonial Creek Campground where there is parking available for vehicles, including rigs with trailers pulling snowmobiles.


Why the change?
This move is going to help the budget, allowing our maintenance team to spend funds in other areas – where potholes need to be filled and guardrail needs to be repaired, for example – instead of on clearing this four-mile stretch of highway throughout the winter. While we won’t know the exact savings until after we get through a season, we expect it to be significant when you tally up crew time in the plow, the material use and the time spent cleaning up the sand that we spread for traction.

But what about our yearly highway opening celebration in the spring? By then, our crews will have cleared those final four miles so the opening day crowd will still line up where they have for decades.

Not closed yet!
As of Nov. 20, the highway is still open for the season, and an average of 1,200 vehicles a day cross Rainy Pass to enjoy one of our state’s most beautiful stretches of road. The highway will remain open until snow really starts to fall and avalanche danger increases, usually around Thanksgiving. Then, winter activities can commence until sometime in the spring when the snowfall slows and crews start work to clear the highway for the season.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

How we’re working to improve freight traffic – and all travel – across I-90

By Barbara LaBoe

Freight touches every part of society every single day – from ensuring a farmer's wheat gets to market to helping a company get the parts it needs to build its products to ensuring the latest gadget is on the shelf when you do your shopping. None of these happen without freight traffic.
Repairs like this replacing the deck from North Bend to Summit Bridge in 2016 help keep all traffic flowing more smoothly on I-90 - including freight traffic critical to our state's economy.

With our seaports, agriculture, aviation and high-tech industries, Washington is one of the most freight-dependent states in the nation. In 2017, Washington's gross business income for freight-dependent industries was $595 billion and those industries support more than 1 million jobs. Freight is vital to our economy and the movement of goods is one of our key transportation goals.

We also know that freight haulers can face several special challenges, including federal limits on hours of work and finding adequate – and safe – places to park their trucks. With many freight haulers using Interstate 90, we know that roadway in particular needs to meet their needs as well as all other types of travelers.

We wanted to share an update on several I-90 projects that improve traffic for freight haulers -- as well as all other types of travelers. All told from 2009 to 2027, we're scheduled to spend $912 million improving the roadway, adding capacity and improving safety.

Widening I-90 over Snoqualmie Pass
This work, done in stages between Hyak and Easton, adds a lane of traffic in each direction to meet projected traffic volume increases. Work also includes stabilizing slopes, replacing and repairing bridges and straightening some curves.
This view from 2016 shows the first of two avalanche bridges on I-90, which allow snow from a historically active avalanche chute to travel under the elevated bridge and into Keechelus Lake instead onto the old roadway (shown at left).
This reduces the number of avalanche control closures needed on this main freight route.

Avalanche bridges
This improvement elevated the highway at a historical avalanche site on the west side of Snoqualmie Pass, allowing snow, trees and other debris to flow underneath the roadway instead of on to it. This reduces the number of closures needed for avalanche control east of the pass or to clear the roadway and keeps traffic flowing.

Chain areas
Chain up and chain off areas are being increased, making more room for larger freight trucks to allow drivers enough space to safely install chains before heading over the pass.

Wildlife crossings
A number of crossings are being designed to help wildlife move more freely thorough the corridor as well as to prevent collisions. The most noticeable is the wildlife overcrossing east of Snoqualmie Pass, but there are also a number of undercrossings as well that allow animals to cross without entering the roadway. Fencing will help guide animals to the crossing locations.
The new wildlife overcrossing on I-90 will be complete this spring and is one of several improvement projects that will benefit freight traffic -- and all travelers -- by helping prevent collisions with wildlife that close the key cross-state highway.

Other improvements for freight drivers
While not I-90 specific, two other recent efforts to assist commercial vehicle drivers as they move goods throughout our state are:
  • Extended rest area stays: Commercial truck drivers face strict restrictions on hours of work and mandated rest breaks and it can be difficult to find safe places to take those breaks (see truck parking maps below). Safety rest areas can be a good option, but state law limits stays there to 8 hours per day, two hours less than commercial drivers are required to rest before driving again. We're trying a pilot project of extending stays to 11 hours for commercial vehicles only. It's only in place at six rest areas right now, and we'll use those spots to evaluate how the change affects overall access and parking for all travelers. The rest areas in the pilot project are Smokey Point (north and southbound), Maytown, Scatter Creek on I-5 and Indian John Hill (both east and westbound) on I-90.
Truck parking maps: An outgrowth of the 2016 Truck Parking Study, we produced these maps to aid truck drivers in finding safe and convenient places to park. Each location – including public and private options – includes details about number of parking spots as well as available amenities such as showers, restaurants or fuel. The maps are distributed at rest areas and other locations and also can be downloaded from our truck parking website.
Truck parking maps help freight haulers find safe and convenient places to park overnight or during mandatory rest breaks. Several versions are available.

View larger truck parking map (pdf 1 mb)

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Unlucky US 2 paving project shelved until next spring

Update
The final closure of westbound US 2, postponed due to colder weather in September 2018, is now scheduled for:
  • 7 p.m. Friday, Aug. 2 to 4 a.m. Monday, Aug. 5
In the event weather postpones the work, we have identified the following potential backup closure weekends.
  • 7 p.m. Friday, Aug. 16 to 4 a.m. Monday, Aug. 19
  • 7 p.m. Friday, Aug. 9 to 4 a.m. Monday, Aug. 12
Get more details on why we must complete this project, and what we need from travelers.

By Ally Barrera

It's not the outcome anyone wanted.

This week, contractor crews working on our US 2 paving project in Snohomish County decided to postpone the two remaining weekend closures until next spring.

The reason behind this decision? Weather.

The bummer of it all is crews only had a relatively small portion of the westbound Hewitt Avenue Trestle left to repave - a half-mile stretch from the Snohomish River to I-5. The one consolation is this remaining section of the trestle has the smoothest portion of the old asphalt.

But for now, trestle travelers will need to wait until next year before they can enjoy a continuous smooth ride from Lake Stevens to Everett.

But why postpone?
Here's a breakdown of why the contractors chose to postpone:
  • Colder temperatures - Just like a sticky price tag is easier to remove when it's warm, the same goes for old asphalt. But when the mercury goes down, it takes longer for crews to scrape off the existing asphalt and still leave themselves enough time to complete the rest of their work.
  • Reduced daylight hours - This goes hand in hand with the temperatures. Less daylight = more time in the cold = the longer it takes to remove the old asphalt.
  • Fog/dew - Fog is defined as a thick cloud of tiny water droplets suspended near the earth's surface. It looks cool in a picture, but it's detrimental to this paving project. Like we've explained in blogs past, moisture wreaks havoc on the installation of the waterproof matting that keeps rain from seeping into the trestle's structure.

The colder temperatures make it more difficult for crews to remove the existing asphalt from the trestle.

Because of these factors, the contractors want to wait for more favorable weather conditions to complete the remaining paving work.

Project accomplishments
Despite the fact rain delayed eight - yeah, eight - weekends of scheduled work, crews still accomplished quite a lot during the four weekends they did work, like:
  • Repaving 2.5 miles of westbound US 2 from Bickford Avenue to I-5.
  • Repaving one mile of eastbound US 2 from State Route 204 to Bickford Avenue.
  • Installed enough waterproof matting to cover nearly seven football fields.
  • Made repairs to the trestle structure to cut down the need for future emergency repairs.
All these things help give travelers a more reliable commute and keep the trestle in a state of good repair for years to come.
This video provides an up-close look of what our crews accomplished during each weekend closure.
Still work to be done
In the coming weeks, crews will perform overnight lane reductions on westbound US 2 to finish smoothing out the expansion joints and place permanent striping on the newly paved portions of the highway. Travelers can check the Snohomish County Construction page or sign up for email updates to find out when those lane reductions are scheduled.

Thank you
This project was originally slated to last two years, but our contractor crews worked really hard to finish everything this summer and keep the disruptions to the public to a minimum. We even optimistically scheduled closures to take place in May and June so we could wrap up before the bulk of the summer traveling season.

But the weather had other ideas.

I've been told that the only predictable thing about construction in the Pacific Northwest is its unpredictability. Through the ups and down, those affected by the roadwork rolled with the punches and we are grateful for that. Now we need you to roll that patience into next spring.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Westbound US 2 closure may equal major traffic headaches in Snohomish County this weekend

Significant adjustments needed by drivers to avoid massive travel delays

Update
The final two closures of westbound US 2, postponed due to colder weather in September 2018, are now scheduled for the following weekends:

  • 7 p.m. Friday, June 28 to 4 a.m. Monday, July 1
  • 7 p.m. Friday, July 12 to 4 a.m. Monday, July 15

In the event weather postpones the work, we have identified the following potential backup closure weekends.

  • 7 p.m. Friday, July 19 to 4 a.m. Monday, July 22
  • 7 p.m. Friday, August 2 to 4 a.m. Monday, August 5.
Get more details on why we must complete this project, and what we need from travelers.

By Ally Barrera

If I were to use an emoji to describe what could be in store for Snohomish County drivers during the next three weekend closures of our westbound US 2 paving project, it would be the exploding head.
This may seem like an exaggeration cooked up in the mind of a millennial, but it's really not.

That's because these upcoming closures could potentially gridlock traffic in Snohomish County from Marysville to Mill Creek. No, that's not an exaggeration. Seriously.

If we all don't make adjustments during these weekends – carpool, public transit, biking, hibernating – the traffic will make you feel like your head might explode. Yes, even more than usual.

Now that I've scared you...
It's time to dig into why these closures will have a much bigger effect on traffic compared to our previous US 2 closures.

On the weekends of Sept. 29-30 and Oct. 6-7, contractor crews will close all lanes of westbound US 2 between State Route 9 and the I-5 interchange – as long as the weather cooperates.

During these weekends, crews will repave the west end of the Hewitt Avenue trestle between Homeacres Road and the I-5 interchange. This means the 20th Street Southeast bypass detour we've come to know and love during previous closures will not be available, because it would drop vehicles right in the middle of the work zone.
This map shows approximately where crews will be working during the next three US 2 weekend closures.

Instead, travelers must detour onto SR 9 with options to go northbound on a 10-mile route to SR 528 in Marysville or southbound on a 12-mile route to Cathcart Way and SR 96 in Mill Creek.  

Plan LOTS of extra time to your travels
Whether you travel north or south on SR 9, expect it to take you AT LEAST 45 minutes longer to get around on these roads compared to when westbound US 2 is open.

And that's without factoring in all the extra vehicles that would normally be on US 2.
Even on a typical weekend, traffic on these roads are slow-going. Add the additional detoured vehicles
that normally use westbound US 2, and traffic will be downright glacial.

We've crunched the numbers, and found the amount of vehicles on northbound SR 9 and SR 528 will double during these US 2 closures. It will be even more crowded on southbound SR 9 and SR 96, where we expect the number of vehicles to triple during the closures. TRIPLE, I say!

Sure, there are backroads and local shortcuts you can take to get around – and your GPS might guide you through those areas as well – but expect a ton of other people to be doing the exact same thing.

Basically, if you must be on the road during the next few weekends, budget A LOT of extra time into your travels. And just when you think you've added enough extra time to get around, add some more time just to be safe.

What we need drivers to do
Here's the thing: If people try to drive like it's business as usual during these next three closures – or even like it's similar to the past few trestle closures – the highways will be completely jammed up. We need everyone who plans to travel through this area to do something different, like:
  • Carpooling
  • Taking transit
  • Moving discretionary travel to a non-construction weekend
  • Traveling before 8 a.m. or after 8 p.m. to avoid peak congestion
  • Checking traffic conditions before you get behind the wheel
    • Our website will have closure and lane reduction updates.
    • Get weekly email updates on King and Snohomish County projects.
    • Our Twitter account will have info about traffic.
    • Download our mobile app for traffic maps and other news and updates.
We saw this work out quite well during last month's Revive I-5 shutdown of northbound I-5. We asked drivers to try different ways of getting around the closure, and they did! Sure, there were still some backups around the region, but they were a fraction of what they could have been had everyone went along business as usual.

This needs to be done
This highway preservation work is important, and our crews can get a lot more work done during a full weekend closure than during a quick, overnight closure. We also need to get the work done before our good summer weather runs out.

Not to sound too cliché, but it's going to take the entire village working together to keep weekend traffic moving. Thank you in advance for your patience. We got this!

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Prepare now for three weekends of closures on US 2

"Magic" summer weather is the key to getting this paving work done before fall

Update
The final two closures of westbound US 2, postponed due to colder weather in September 2018, are now scheduled for the following weekends:

  • 7 p.m. Friday, June 28 to 4 a.m. Monday, July 1
  • 7 p.m. Friday, July 12 to 4 a.m. Monday, July 15

In the event weather postpones the work, we have identified the following potential backup closure weekends.

  • 7 p.m. Friday, July 19 to 4 a.m. Monday, July 22
  • 7 p.m. Friday, August 2 to 4 a.m. Monday, August 5.
Get more details on why we must complete this project, and what we need from travelers.

By Ally Barrera

If you're a fan of "Schoolhouse Rock" – and really, who isn't? – then you know three is a magic number.

We hope some of that magic rubs off on our US 2 paving project in Snohomish County, because this weekend – Aug. 4-5 – marks the first of three consecutive weekend closures of this major corridor between the Lake Stevens area and Everett.

That means three straight weekends where travelers will need to adjust their plans and expect some major delays.

Why three consecutive weekends?
The thought of navigating around three closures might seem daunting to folks hoping to get around these last few weekends of summer, but this schedule gives us our best chance to finish the project this year.

We need these closures to rehabilitate and preserve the westbound trestle and keep it in a state of good repair for years to come – and each closure needs warm, dry weather. August is when we see some of our warmest and driest weather.
Crews from the July 21-22 weekend closure laid down a layer of asphalt on top of a waterproof
membrane that keeps rainwater from seeping into the bridge deck.

Remember when we had four weekend closures postponed because of rain (and yes, it really did rain during all those weekends)? We don't want that to happen again. This is where some of that magic I mentioned earlier will come in handy.

But last weekend's weather was great!
Yeah, you're right. The weather during the weekend of July 28-29 was perfect for this project. However, just like with all our projects, we coordinate with the surrounding communities and try not to schedule closures during major local events.

Last weekend was Lake Stevens' Aquafest, a two-and-a-half day festival that brings 30,000 people to this peaceful lakeside city. Shutting down one of the main routes out of Lake Stevens during its biggest event of the year would have resulted in disastrous travel conditions throughout the area.

It's the same reason why we didn't have a US 2 closure during Marysville's Strawberry Festival back in May, and why we're not closing the highway during the Evergreen State Fair in Monroe.

The detours, they are a-changing!
As of now, the closures of westbound US 2 are scheduled for 7 p.m. Friday to 4 a.m. Monday on the following dates, as long as it stays completely dry:
  • Aug. 3 – 6 COMPLETED
  • Aug. 10 – 13 POSTPONED due to rain
  • Aug. 17 – 20 COMPLETED
During the first weekend, westbound traffic will detour onto 20th Street Southeast (pdf 811 kb) as crews continue working on the Hewitt Avenue trestle – just like it did during the previous closures.

The last two closures are when things get a little interesting. During Aug. 10-13 and Aug. 17-20 (including Friday night and early Monday morning), crews will begin working on the west end of the trestle, between Homeacres Road and the Interstate 5 interchange.

Because of this, travelers must detour onto SR 9 with options to go northbound to SR 528 (pdf 928 kb) in Marysville or southbound to SR 96 (pdf 992 kb) in Mill Creek. There will be no local detour.
The official northbound detour during the Aug. 10-13 and Aug. 17-20 closures
The official southbound detour during the Aug. 10-13 and Aug. 17-20 closures

I repeat: THOSE TRAVELING ON WESTBOUND US 2 MUST EXIT AT SR 9. Do not pass go. Do not collect $200.

Getting around won't be easy
We're expecting a lot of congestion on Snohomish County highways from Marysville to Mill Creek during these next three closures. So, to keep backups and the travel times from skyrocketing, we need travelers to:
  • Carpool
  • Take transit 
  • Move discretionary travel to a non-construction weekend
  • Travel before 8 a.m. or after 8 p.m. to avoid peak congestion
  • Check traffic conditions before you get behind the wheel with these tools
Thanks in advance
We appreciate any adjustments can you make to help us complete this important rehabilitation work. Doing this extensive preservation work now will reduce the need for future emergency repairs that add time to already long commutes in Snohomish County – and don't come with advanced warnings.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

A tale of two species (and two closures)

Start preparing now for weekend closures near the I-405/SR 167 interchange in August

UPDATE
Thursday, Aug. 23

The Aug. 25-26 weekend closure of southbound SR 167, along with all associated I-405 and SR 167 ramps, is canceled.


By Victoria Miller

It's the best of times in Seattle right now – sunny weather with more summer to come. However, it's also the season of abundant construction and weekend-long roadway closures.

In case you haven't noticed, construction on the Interstate 405/State Route 167 Interchange Direct Connector Project is ramping up. Crews have been hard at work and are ahead of schedule, but in order to keep things on track, they need to conduct some major weekend roadway closures in mid and late August.
Before those closures can take place, though, we had a lot of prep work to undertake, including building a new ramp and looking after our project's aquatic neighbors.
Crews poured concrete at two locations as part of ongoing construction
of the I-405/SR 167 Interchange Direct Connector ramp.

The two species: fish and bugs
The new ramp to help commuters get through this area is just one of our efforts, we are also committed to helping another species travel through the area: fish.

Throughout many of our projects, the roads we are improving often cross creeks and streams where fish, including endangered and threatened species, live. In order to keep these streams flowing, we have installed large pipes called culverts under the roadways. We built most of the culverts before we fully understood fish habitat needs. At the time, we met all the culvert requirements, but in some areas, it's now challenging for fish to pass through the structures, and that's where our fish passage work comes in. We are now working across the state to address fish barriers by building and inserting new, larger culverts that are passable for fish.

For the Direct Connector project, crews have been installing a new, fish-friendly culvert in three phases south of the existing culvert in Rolling Hills Creek. The work began in fall 2017, and the first two phases occurred on land and in the wetlands next to the stream. The third and final stage of construction will happen in the stream when crews install the remaining pieces of the culvert underneath the roadway and realign the stream channel to flow into the new culvert.

Before the final culvert work can take place, crews need to move the fish away from this area so that they are not affected by the construction. This is what we call "fish exclusion."

In recent weeks, our project team has been relocating approximately 26,000 three-spined stickleback fish from a wetland adjacent to Rolling Hills Creek, to waters farther away from the construction site. The relocated fish still have a connection to their natural habitat and they will be able to move more freely once the project is complete.

Crews also found a surprise in the water --  giant water bugs, scientifically called Lethocerus americanus and more commonly referred to as "toe biters" due to the painful bite they deliver if disturbed. The bugs are being relocated to the same waters as the fish.
Giant water bugs – also called "toe biters" – were also relocated before in-water construction began. (Photo courtesy of Frank Vassen/Wikipedia)

The two closures: Aug. 17-20 and Aug. 24-27
Speaking of bugs, we know that construction can really bug drivers and nearby communities, which is why we are letting you know a few weeks in advance that there will be two major weekend closures in August near the I-405/SR 167 interchange.

These closures are necessary for crews to complete the fish passage work we just described, as well as pavement reconstruction. Paving during an around-the-clock 54-hour weekend closure helps to ensure high quality outcomes when compared to work performed in the short work windows available during nightly closures adjacent to live traffic.
  • Friday evening, Aug. 17, to the morning of Monday, Aug. 20 – Two lanes on northbound I-405 will be closed between SR 167 and Talbot Road South from 11 p.m. Friday until 4:30 a.m. Monday. Two lanes will remain open.
  • Friday evening, Aug. 24, to the morning of Monday, Aug. 27 – All lanes of southbound SR 167 will be FULLY CLOSED between I-405 and South 180th Street from 8:30 p.m. Friday until 5 a.m. Monday. A signed detour will be in place.
For the latest construction closure information for these weekends, please visit the I-405 Construction Updates webpage and the King County Construction Updates webpage leading up to each weekend.

As with any major weekend closures, we encourage drivers to avoid the area and use alternate routes. Don't forget to also bookmark our Seattle area traffic page, download the WSDOT app, and follow us on Twitter for the very latest travel conditions. Remember these closures are still a month away and weather-dependent.

So if you're traveling to a Mariners game, a concert at White River Amphitheater or a weekend event in downtown Seattle, make sure to "know before you go" so you can still have the best of times and not the worst of times.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

True Life: I’m a westbound Snohomish County trestle in need of preservation, pavement and completely dry weather

Update
The 2019 weekend closure of westbound US 2, postponed due to colder weather in September 2018, is now scheduled for:
  • 7 p.m. Friday, Aug. 2 to 4 a.m. Monday, Aug. 5.
Get more details on why we must complete this project, and what we need from travelers.

By Frances Fedoriska

We don’t like it either. If we asked Snohomish County travelers to pick a children’s tale they feel embodies the US 2 preservation project, we would not be surprised if “The Boy Who Cried Wolf” won by a landslide.

Four times now we have spread the word of six weekend closures of westbound US 2 between the SR 204 interchange and Homeacres ramp. Four times the forecast hasn’t been in our favor. Four times we’ve had to postpone the closures hours before their start time.

Rain is the culprit. Its trickle-down effect has disrupted routines, plans and frustrated drivers and contractor crews alike. We all want to finish the six closures for this project. We all want the Hewitt Avenue trestle rehabilitated and preserved so it can be in a good state of repair for years to come.

Absolutely no rain allowed

While many of our projects can continue in the rain, this is not one of them. The waterproof material we need to put down to prevent rainwater from seeping into the concrete bridge deck and corroding the rebar has to be applied when there is NO rain or moisture AT ALL on the bridge deck.
Lakeside crews applying waterproofing material to another project on a dry, sunny day
Two big reasons why.

First, the primer used to attach the waterproof coating to the bridge deck won’t stick if there is moisture on the concrete deck. Moisture prevents the primer from bonding and the coating from sticking correctly.

Secondly, applying the material when there’s a hint of moisture, then putting hot asphalt on top of the waterproof coating creates steam. That steam can expand, creating bubbles or separations between the bridge deck and asphalt. This derails some major goals of this project which include, but aren’t limited to: removing cracks and potholes (versus creating more of them), and providing a smooth ride on the newly rehabilitated trestle.

For these reasons, applying the material when there is any moisture voids the warranty. No one wants that.

But I-5 is getting repaved too

I’ve had a few of you ask why we can do Revive I-5 paving work when it rains a little in Seattle, but we postpone what appears to be similar paving work on US 2 in Snohomish County. It’s because the waterproofing material is only used on bridge decks. The Revive I-5 project only involves a little bit of bridge deck work. That project also postponed a weekend ramp closure in April when rain was expected.

Why weekends?

Our crews can get a lot more work done during a full weekend closure than during a quick, overnight closure. Overnight shifts only provide a few hours to get work done before we have to pack up our equipment and get off the roadway in time for the morning commute.

We need six weekend closures so we can:
  • Remove old, damaged pavement
  • Inspect the trestle
  • Make any needed repairs
  • Put down a new waterproof coating
  • Put down a new layer of asphalt
Weekend closures help shorten major preservation projects such as this one, and get commuters and commerce back on Washington’s freeways in a shorter amount of time.

When hoping for the best backfires

Everyone involved in this project knows the odds of having bone dry weekends – in the convergence zone - during May and June - weren’t in our favor.

But we had to try.

Our dry “construction season” is already limited here in the Pacific Northwest, between coordinating with other road closures, events and holidays. Still, we tackled this US 2 weekend closure schedule with an optimism usually reserved for romantic comedies and started with the hopes of closures in the spring.

Mark your calendars

That brings us to the updated westbound US 2 weekend closure schedule. As of this writing, these closures are tentatively scheduled for 7 p.m. Friday to 4 a.m. Monday on the following dates:
  • July 13 – July 16 COMPLETED
  • July 20 – July 23 COMPLETED
  • Aug. 3 – Aug. 6 COMPLETED
  • Aug. 10 – Aug. 13 POSTPONED due to weather
  • Aug. 17 – Aug. 20 COMPLETED
  • Sept. 7 – Sept. 10 POSTPONED due to weather
  • Sept. 14 - Sept. 17 POSTPONED due to weather
  • Sept. 21 - Sept. 21 POSTPONED due to weather
  • Sept. 28 - Oct. 1 POSTPONED to spring 2019
  • Oct. 5 - Oct. 8 POSTPONED to spring 2019
By now you know this, but it bears repeating: These closures are weather dependent.

The detour

For the first four weekend closures we will reverse traffic on 20th Street Southeast.

Westbound US 2 traffic between Lake Stevens/Snohomish and Everett should be prepared to use a detour during the full weekend closures of the trestle.


View larger US 2 closure map (pdf 811 kb)

Of course, 20th Street Southeast is a single-lane road and doesn’t have the space to efficiently move all the travelers who will be booted off westbound US 2 during these closures. Travelers need to:
  • Brace for congestion on nearby state routes 9, 96 and 528
  • Carpool
  • Take transit 
  • Move discretionary travel to a non-construction weekend
  • Travel before 8 a.m. or after 8 p.m. to avoid peak congestion
  • Check traffic conditions before you get behind the wheel
    • Our website will have closure and lane reduction updates.
    • Get weekly email updates on King and Snohomish County projects.
    • Our Twitter account will have info about traffic.
    • Download our mobile app for traffic maps and other news and updates.
Thanks in advance

There’s no good time to close an entire direction of US 2. However, doing this extensive preservation work will reduce the need for future emergency repairs that add time to already long commutes in Snohomish County. We appreciate any adjustments you make to help us complete this important rehabilitation work. We also thank those of you who indulge in any personal superstitions you believe will help ward off rain clouds.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Westbound US 2 trestle closed June 2-3

Update
The final two closures of westbound US 2, postponed due to colder weather in September 2018, are now scheduled for the following weekends:

  • 7 p.m. Friday, June 28 to 4 a.m. Monday, July 1
  • 7 p.m. Friday, July 12 to 4 a.m. Monday, July 15

In the event weather postpones the work, we have identified the following potential backup closure weekends.

  • 7 p.m. Friday, July 19 to 4 a.m. Monday, July 22
  • 7 p.m. Friday, August 2 to 4 a.m. Monday, August 5.
Get more details on why we must complete this project, and what we need from travelers.

By Frances Fedoriska

The westbound US 2 Hewitt Avenue trestle in Snohomish County will be closed the weekend of June 2-3 – assuming we get good weather – and to avoid extensive backups and delays, we need drivers to try something new. No, we don't mean whipping up a new dinner recipe or checking out a new museum exhibit. We mean trying a new route, a new carpool, a new start time, even make new weekend plans (if feasible) to avoid heading west during this closure.

Again, if your plans included the westbound US 2 trestle between 7 p.m. Friday, June 1 and 4 a.m. Monday, June 4, start working on an alternate plan.
The westbound US 2 trestle connecting Lake Stevens and Snohomish with Everett
will have six full weekend closures as part of a major repaving project.

But why?
We're repaving three miles of westbound US 2 from Bickford Ave. to I-5. This section hasn't been repaved since 2002 and will require six full weekend closures of the westbound trestle.

Weekend traffic by the numbers
On the average non-holiday weekend in the spring and summer, roughly 2,600 westbound drivers take US 2 between the SR 204 interchange and Everett every hour. The delays are usually minimal on these weekends because the two-lane highway can handle the traffic.

But that's a lot of traffic that will be using other routes during the closure on roads not designed for that many vehicles. There will be a detour using 20th Street SE, but at one lane, it doesn't have the capacity to efficiently move every traveler displaced during this US 2 closure.
During the weekend closure of westbound US 2, we will reverse 20th Street Southeast to be westbound only. It will carry drivers up the ramp to the far western end of the US 2 Hewitt Avenue trestle, just before the I-5 interchange.

We need help to keep traffic moving
If you need to travel westbound to Everett during that weekend, consider your options:
  • Carpool
  • Move discretionary travel to a non-construction weekend.
  • Travel westbound between Lake Stevens and Everett during non-peak hours (before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m.).
  • Stay longer at your destination to avoid traveling during peak hours.
  • Research alternative routes before the 20th Street SE detour. Get creative!
Thanks in advance
We know that anytime we close roadways it presents a significant challenge to drivers and we appreciate your efforts during these weekend closures. Doing this extensive preservation work will reduce the need for future emergency repairs that add time to already long commutes in Snohomish County. We could also use your help in spreading the word. If you know someone who makes this trip, please let them know!

How to get more information
  • Our website will have closure and lane reduction updates.
  • Get weekly email updates on Snohomish County projects.
  • Our Twitter account will have info about traffic.
  • Download our mobile app for traffic maps and other news and updates.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Spring makeover coming to US 2 between Everett and Lake Stevens

Update
The final two closures of westbound US 2, postponed due to colder weather in September 2018, are now scheduled for the following weekends:

  • 7 p.m. Friday, June 28 to 4 a.m. Monday, July 1
  • 7 p.m. Friday, July 12 to 4 a.m. Monday, July 15

In the event weather postpones the work, we have identified the following potential backup closure weekends.

  • 7 p.m. Friday, July 19 to 4 a.m. Monday, July 22
  • 7 p.m. Friday, August 2 to 4 a.m. Monday, August 5.
Get more details on why we must complete this project, and what we need from travelers.

By Frances Fedoriska

The three miles of US 2 between the I-5 interchange in Everett and Bickford Avenue in Lake Stevens are getting a critical makeover and travelers should prepare for six weekends of westbound lane closures.

If you've driven this area recently, your tires have told you about the dire state of the asphalt on this stretch of US 2. It's riddled with potholes, gaping cracks and ruts and it needs some help.
Westbound US 2 between Everett and Lake Stevens needs some significant repairs and they're happening this spring.

So starting this spring, our contractor crews will remove the old pavement on the westbound lanes, including the Hewitt Avenue trestle. The pavement is 16 years old, outliving the projected lifespan of 12-to-15 years. Once the battered asphalt is removed, the trestle will be inspected. Any needed repairs will be made to the structure before a new waterproof coating is applied to prevent our harsh PNW weather from corroding the rebar and from water moving down into the concrete bridge deck. Only after all that can the new layer of buttery smooth asphalt be applied.

Crews will also improve almost two miles of the eastbound lanes from the US 2/SR 204 interchange to Bickford. Because the eastbound trestle is made of newer concrete, there's no repaving happening there so no full weekend closures eastbound are needed.

Tentative westbound US 2 weekend closure dates
  • May 18 – May 21 POSTPONED due to weather
  • June 1 – June 3 POSTPONED due to weather
  • June 22 – June 24 POSTPONED due to weather
  • June 29 – July 1 POSTPONED due to weather
  • July 13 – July 16 COMPLETED
  • July 20 – July 23 COMPLETED
  • Aug. 3 – Aug. 6 COMPLETED
  • Aug. 10 – Aug. 13 POSTPONED due to weather
  • Aug. 17 – Aug. 20 COMPLETED
  • Sept. 7 – Sept. 10 POSTPONED due to weather
  • Sept. 14 - Sept. 17 POSTPONED due to weather
  • Sept. 21 - Sept. 24 POSTPONED due to weather
  • Sept. 28 - Oct. 1 POSTPONED to spring 2019
  • Oct. 5 - Oct. 8 POSTPONED to spring 2019
This work is weather-dependent and closures may be rescheduled if it rains.

Why weekend closures?
The need for six weekend closures comes down to size and time constraints.

First up, size. The trestle is too narrow to accommodate construction work, machinery and keep a lane open while still keeping the crews safe from traffic rushing by. Due to the width of the trestle, and to avoid any unnecessary wear and tear on the bridge, crews will use an asphalt removal method called "hand grinding." I pictured people on their hands and knees sanding down the roadway, but that can't be further from the truth. Instead, they'll use a smaller loader to pop up and scrape off the old asphalt. Think of it like removing tiles from the floor of a kitchen or bathroom, but with giant equipment and not hand tools.
No, hand grinding doesn't involve us using hand tools. Instead, a small loader pops up and scraped off old asphalt.
(above and below)


Now to that pesky thing called time. All the preparation work and repairs our crews have to make before pouring new asphalt takes far longer than the seven hours we get in a typical overnight closure.

What we need from drivers

Roughly 2,600 drivers use westbound US 2 every hour on the weekends. State Route 9 and 20th Street Southeast are the primary detours for our weekend closures. Both routes are single-lane and can't absorb all these displaced drivers without creating lengthy backups.

Think about your upcoming weekend plans and whether you could:
  • Carpool.
  • Move discretionary travel to a non-construction weekend.
  • Adjust westbound travel to be during non-peak hours (before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m.).
  • Plan to stay overnight at your destination so you're traveling during non-peak hours.
Overnight closures
This is a big job, so in addition to the weekend closures westbound, we will also need to shut down some lanes in both directions of US 2 during this project:
  • Overnight work in the westbound lanes of US 2 is scheduled to end by 5 a.m. on weekdays.
  • Overnight work in the westbound lanes of US 2 is scheduled to end by 8 a.m. on weekends.
  • Overnight work in the eastbound lanes of US 2 is scheduled to end by 7 a.m. on weekdays.
  • Overnight work in the eastbound lanes of US 2 is scheduled to end by 9 a.m. on weekends.
Stay updated
There are several ways to stay updated on the work and the schedule:
We appreciate you taking the time to plan ahead, know alternate routes and being an engaged community member. You're taking the right steps to prevent being stuck in traffic, and you're minimizing congestion for your neighbors as well.