Anyone who has driven US 195 between Spokane and Pullman regularly – including decades worth of Washington State University students – has been stuck behind a slow-moving vehicle at some point. I always seemed to end up behind a hay truck or other farm equipment during my travels.
The rolling hills of the Palouse are beautiful scenery, but the winding, two-lane road with few good options for passing can be frustrating, especially when thousands of students are trying to get to and from campus. But, relief is on the way – by the end of this summer six passing areas will be available to ease traffic flow.
The US 195 Passing Lane project was paid for in the Legislature's Connecting Washington funding package to alleviate the potential for head-on collisions along the highway. Two passing lanes were added near Colfax last summer and four more between Colfax and Spangle are under construction this summer.
Giving travelers a space to safely pass slower vehicles improves safety for all and should cut down on the number of vehicles held up by one slow vehicle. The improvements also are another step toward reaching the state's Target Zero safety plan of reducing traffic fatalities and serious injuries to zero by the year 2030.
Of course, right now the work means there are several construction zones and some traffic delays as crews create the final four passing lanes. Several bridge decks are also being repaired and resurfaced in an unrelated project near Rosalia and Steptoe that will wrap up in July. (The bridge work was timed during the passing lane work to minimize the amount of time we have work zones in the area and the inconvenience to travelers by not having construction sites next summer as well.) Both these projects mean there are single lanes of traffic in some areas, with travelers waiting until one lane has cleared before driving through the construction zone themselves. Anyone traveling the highway should allow extra traveling time.
|Left: A completed passing lane on US 195 allows slower traffic to move over while the rest of traffic passes by.|
Right: Slower trucks use one of the passing lanes completed on US 195 in 2017.
We're asking drivers to stay extra alert through the multiple work zones. Unfortunately, we've had two crashes in US 195 work zones this summer, including one that critically injured a woman whose vehicle was struck by a semi truck while stopped in line at a flagging station. Whenever you see work zones please remember to:
- Slow Down – drive the posted speeds, they're there for your safety
- Be Kind – our workers are helping to keep you safe and improve the roadways
- Pay Attention – both to workers directing you and surrounding traffic
- Stay Calm – expect delays, leave early or take an alternate route if possible; no meeting or appointment is worth risking someone's life