Wednesday, December 4, 2019

It’s a wrap on Snoqualmie Pass, almost

By Meagan Lott

As the cooler weather sets in, construction projects across I-90 between North Bend and Vantage are wrapping up for the season -- and one in particular is wrapping up for good.

We are checking the new 7-mile stretch of highway between Hyak and Stampede Pass off of our list, which means we are now at the halfway point of the 15-mile project that improves I-90 all the way to Easton. Over the past nine construction seasons, contractor crews have removed more than 2 million cubic yards of dirt and rock and poured 153,000 cubic yards of concrete as part of this massive undertaking.
When we started there were two lanes in each direction but now a third lane has been added both east and west. In addition, due to a realignment, all six of the lanes here were built from scratch and are brand new roadways and surfaces for travelers. This work also built 17 new bridges, including two new avalanche bridges and a wildlife overcrossing that is already being put to good use by local wildlife.

All of this hard work hasn’t gone unnoticed. Recently, this project received the regional Association of American State Highway and Transportation Officials award for best use of technology and innovation. Also Brian White, assistant regional administrator, recently received the Jim Ellis Spirit Award from the Mountains to Sound Greenway, for his role in project management and his ability to foster collaborative partnerships, to create a solution for both wildlife and people.
Our work on the I-90 in recent years included two new avalanche bridges which allow snow and debris from avalanches to flow under the bridges and reduce the amount of avalanche-related closures in the winter.

The other projects wrapping up for the season include the improvements we have been working on for the past couple of summers between North Bend and the summit of Snoqualmie Pass. To date, contractor crews have removed 2,278 concrete panels that were in rough shape and poured more than 9,100 cubic yards of new concrete to replace them. Crews also repaired four bridge decks. This project starts back up next spring and is scheduled to be complete in fall 2020.

Near Cle Elum, crews placed more than 5,700 tons of new asphalt and started work to repaint the two bridges over the Cle Elum River. Crews will be back next summer to finish the new paint job as well as repair both bridge decks. Speaking of bridges, crews are also repairing the decks on the bridges over the Yakima River in Cle Elum and Ellensburg. So far they’ve placed more than 2,700 tons of asphalt and will finish things up next summer.

Finally, paving between Ellensburg and Vantage is now complete. Crews placed more than 41,600 tons of new asphalt during this summer of work, giving travelers a new smooth surface to drive on.

What’s next in this area? Work on the second half of the 15-mile I-90 Snoqualmie Pass East project was scheduled to kick off in summer 2020, but that has been put on hold for a bit as part of Gov. Jay Inslee’s direction after the passage of Initiative 976. Postponing projects like this one, which hadn’t yet gone to bid, gives the governor and Legislature time and flexibility to determine how to implement the initiative as they work toward an amended budget during the 2020 session.

We want to thank all of you who traveled across I-90 this summer and fall and for your patience and understanding. We know construction zones can be frustrating during travel, but the short-term pain pays off in the long run when travelers have improved and expanded roadways for their trips for many years to come.


Unknown said...

We appreciate WSDOT, from our important rest areas, maintenance to our private construction partners. And don't forget our State Patrol who help keep our highways safe.

Jack said...

Assuming the rest of the project to Easton is completed by 2029, are there plans to widen I-90 to three lanes between Easton and Cle Elum? That would significantly help the choke point where 97 and Cle Elum/Suncadia traffic merge onto I-90.

WSDOT said...

Currently, funding makes improvements to Easton. We hope one day to continue widening to six lanes all the way to Ellensburg.

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