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

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

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.