Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Getting ready to rumble in the North Cascades

Safety project adds layer of protection along one of Washington's most scenic highways

By Frances Fedoriska

Few will dispute emerald valleys, snow-capped monoliths and crystal clear waters make State Route 20 one of the most beautiful drives in the Pacific Northwest. However, driving through the winding wilderness requires total focus, which is challenging with such beautiful scenery. This spring, contractor crews working for WSDOT will install safety upgrades on the road.
Getting to Diablo Lake is about to get a little bit safer thanks to a project putting
rumble strips on more than 40 miles of State Route 20.

Collision history
Between 2014 and 2018, SR 20 from Marblemount to Granite Creek had 13 collisions involving vehicles crossing over the center line. Five of these were head-on collisions.
This spring, 42 miles of SR 20 in the Cascades is getting new centerline
rumble strips to reduce crossover collisions.

Rumble strips 101
When tires roll over the grooves that have been carved into the asphalt, they produce a loud rumbling noise. This alerts the driver to move back into their lane. Based on national research, these strips reduce the risk of head-on or opposite direction collisions by 21-25%.
Expect lane reductions and slow-going on the North Cascades Highway as crews
cut rumble strips into the center line of the road.

Meanwhile out west...
Contractor crews will also install centerline rumble strips on SR 20 in Skagit County as part of this project. In Anacortes, they'll divide the highway from just east of Deception Pass Tours to the area of the new Miller-Gibralter roundabout.

What we need from drivers
Work will begin as soon as Monday, April 29 and last for about one month. The highway will never be completely closed, but lane reductions are possible to provide our crews a safe space to work. Be prepared for backups and delays if traveling SR 20:
  • In the North Cascades, the highway will be reduced to a single lane with flaggers or pilot cars alternating traffic 5 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.
  • In Skagit County, the highway will be reduced to a single lane with flaggers or pilot cars alternating traffic nightly from 8 p.m. to 6:30 a.m. the following day. Crews will not work on Friday and Saturday nights.
Stay engaged
Exact dates for the work haven't been released. As soon as they are, you'll find them:
Thanks in advance Travelers play a key role in helping us improve highway safety. Thank you for giving our crews room to work, remaining patient during backups and delays, and educating yourself about what is happening on our roads. Please share this information with friends and family who will find it useful. Together, we can get back to safely exploring the parks, places and hidden spaces we love in the PNW.