Wednesday, December 15, 2021

Preservation work on I-5 Stillaguamish River bridge completed

By Meggan Carrigg Davidson

If you traveled on southbound Interstate 5 over the Stillaguamish River bridge in Arlington this past summer you probably noticed a lot of activity. Our contractor, Southern Road & Bridge, LLC, began repainting the bridge and replacing some of the worn 88-year-old original steel that helps support the structure. The bridge's trusses were stripped to bare metal and received a new coat of paint to protect the aging structure for years to come.

While we kept two lanes open in both directions along I-5 during the peak of summer traffic, we know there were some delays and we appreciate everyone's patience while we got this work done!

Work on the southbound I-5 Stillaguamish River bridge was done under a full
containment system to protect the waterway below.

Preservation work was needed

Existing paint on the southbound Stillaguamish bridge was weathered and damaged, allowing corrosion to occur. This project removed old, chipped paint and corrosion, taking the entire bridge back to bare metal for the first time since 1933.

The contractor cleaned exposed metal and applied a total of 2,476 gallons of paint under a full containment system to protect the waterway below. They also replaced two minor steel members and 1,414 rivets and bolts.

Much more than just a matter of appearance, new paint helps prolong the life of the bridge by preventing rust and other corrosion.

Crews used 2,476 gallons of paint and replaced two minor steel members and 1,414 rivets and bolts on the bridge.
Here’s a look at before and after the work.

Where did traffic go during this closure?

From June through October, all southbound I-5 traffic was diverted onto the existing median bypass on the adjacent northbound lanes. This kept both directions of I-5 moving during the preservation work.

For drivers who have been around awhile, you may remember that in 2014 we used the same crossover when the southbound bridge deck was replaced after 81 years of service. It took about four months to complete that work and the bridge reopened in November 2014. During this most recent work, crews were able to utilize the existing median bypass on either side of the bridges to again accommodate this necessary work.

All southbound I-5 traffic was diverted onto the existing median bypass
on the adjacent northbound lanes.

A bit more to do

This coming spring be prepared for some lane closures over a few weeks as crews complete permanent erosion control in the median. This work will include final stabilization and sediment control of the excavated areas.

Stillaguamish River bridge's history

The southbound Stillaguamish River bridge was built in 1933 to carry US 99. When I-5 opened in the 1960s, the bridge became part of the interstate, carrying two lanes in each direction. A new northbound bridge opened in 1971 and traffic was separated, resulting in three lanes on each bridge. The southbound steel truss bridge comprises three spans over the river and spans 607 feet.

Each bridge carries an average of 39,000 vehicles per day, but that can rise to 50,000 per day during the summer.

A look at before (left) and after of the preservation work on the I-5 Stillaguamish River bridge

The rest is history!

This bridge has seen its fair share of normal wear and tear over the years. Again, we thank you for your patience and care during the completion of the restoration work. We are excited to see the bridge back in action for its crucial role in transporting goods and services along the I-5 corridor.

You can check out photos of all the stages of work in our Stillaguamish River bridge Flickr album.

Tuesday, December 14, 2021

Routine work night becomes heroic rescue for signals technician

By Stefanie Randolph

Most of Casey O'Connell's challenges as a signal technician involve fixing a signal cabinet or figuring out why traffic lights aren't operating as they should be. But on Nov. 10, he faced a huge challenge, and we're so proud about how he rose to the occasion.

At around 3 a.m. on November 10, Casey was driving a signal truck toward Puyallup on State Route 512 to repair a signal cabinet that'd been damaged in a crash early that morning when he witnessed the worst thing he could imagine seeing: a head-on collision.

Casey O’Connell was on his way to a routine signals repair job when he witnessed a head-on collision
and helped rescue one of the drivers from their burning vehicle.

Just before Canyon Road, he saw a car cross the median and strike a vehicle going the other direction. There was no one else around and Casey knew he needed to check on the people, so he turned around at the next exit and was the first on the scene.

When he arrived, one car was on fire. He immediately looked inside and saw the driver was conscious but not moving.

"I asked her if she could move," Casey said. "She said she was hurt. I told her we had to get her out right now because the car was on fire. I pulled on the door and it wouldn't open, so I had to give it my all. She couldn't move, so I picked her up out of the car."

The driver of this car that was involved in a head-on crash was pulled to safety
by Casey O’Connell, one of our signals technicians.

Casey carried the woman to the road while someone else called 911. By then, the car was engulfed in flames. First responders arrived within minutes and after they took over the scene, Casey went on to Puyallup to help another signal technician with the original task of repairing the damaged signal cabinet.

Fortunately the woman Casey rescued is recovering from several broken bones.

While rescuing people on the highway isn't in Casey's job description, we aren't surprised that when faced with an emergency he didn't think twice about stepping up with heroic actions.

"It was definitely scary," he said. "I didn't even care about how hot it was. I had one thing on my mind, and that was to get her out."

Thursday, December 9, 2021

Maintenance crews clear dozens of landslides in Clallam County following storm

By Tina Werner and Mark Krulish

The Nov. 15 storm that hit western Washington had a significant effect on the Olympic Peninsula, closing US 101 and State Routes 112, 113 and 110 in multiple locations. Reopening these routes was no small task for our hardworking maintenance crews. While the repair work on US 101 and SR 112 is ongoing, crews made great progress in really challenging conditions to re-establish critical lifeline routes to Clallam County communities.

Wet conditions got a whole lot wetter

Leading up to the Nov. 15 storm, a month's worth of rain had already fallen in the Olympic Peninsula in less than two weeks. The soil was saturated, and the rivers were high.

Then the storm brought another round of heavy rain, coupled with high tides and wind, which hit the peninsula with a vengeance.

Clallam County PUD placed a temporary water line over the slide at milepost 15.8 near Clallam Bay. The site continues to move and our team is designing a long-term fix, purchasing right-of-way and working with partners on a path forward.

As the atmospheric river dropped more-than-generous precipitation across our state, Port Angeles maintenance lead Jim Hart said the sheer amount of water on the roadway was "unreal." Crews worked quickly to ensure roads weren't completely washed away as water came spilling down the hillside. They cleared slides and debris as much as they safely could, although some sections of road were blocked by flood waters and crews couldn't even reach them until after Tuesday evening.

The Forks and Neah Bay communities were cut off from the rest of the state and we knew we had to restore their access ASAP. We called in crews from other areas including Kitsap, Grays Harbor and Mason counties to clear downed trees, landslides, and blocked culverts.

Our first goal was to get US 101 reopened. Reopening this highway would restore travel across the peninsula and give us access to SR 113 and SR 112.

A look at the closure locations on the Olympic Peninsula at 5 p.m. on Nov. 15 following a major rain storm

US 101 at Lake Crescent

At the Lake Crescent site alone, truck operators removed 5,000 yards of debris using four excavators, two front-end loaders and 11 dump trucks. Thirty-two people and more than 915 combined hours later, we were able to get  US 101 between Forks and Port Angeles reopened.

Reopening US 101 at Lake Crescent was a combined effort by Olympic National Park,
Clallam County and our crews from across the region.

US 101 south of Forks

A landslide closed US 101 at milepost 185 near Forks after the storm. The slide affected approximately 50 feet of roadway and three smaller embankment failures filled a ditch with debris and trees, clogging a nearby culvert, which caused water to spill onto the roadway. Our crews were able to clear downed trees, debris and water, and install a jersey barrier in the center to reopen a path out of Forks. Crews restored one-way alternating travel near Kallman Road on Wednesday, Nov. 17 after two days of work. An emergency contract is being prepared for a long-term fix of the site. Smaller slides on SR 113 and SR 110 were cleared in the days that followed.

The situation at US 101 at milepost 185 south of Forks

US 101 at the Elwha River Bridge

In 2016, bridge crews discovered erosion on some of the piers on the US 101 Elwha River Bridge in Port Angeles. Since then, we have had an emergency plan in place that involves closing the bridge when water levels reach certain flows to prevent further erosion. This was the first time since 2016 we've had to implement this plan. The bridge remained closed until water levels dropped low enough for engineers to inspect the bridge piers. The 80-plus-year-old bridge is on track to be replaced in summer 2022.

The US 101 Elwha River Bridge was closed for two days due to high river water.

Structural engineers continued to monitor the Elwha bridge piers for scour for two full days before recommending its reopening on Nov. 17.

Bridge crews used an Under Bridge Inspection Truck to evaluate the piers and columns
of the US 101 Elwha River Bridge prior to reopening it.

SR 112 between mileposts 0 to 11 near Neah Bay also reopened on Wednesday, Nov. 17. Our maintenance crews cleared 14 sites within the 11-mile stretch. Flooding of the Hoko River prevented crews from accessing and evaluating damage west of milepost 12 until Tuesday evening. Crews removed debris from small slides and cleared drainage culverts to prevent flowing of further debris and damage to the roadway.

Thanks to the work of our crews, we are down to only two remaining closures.

SR 112  is closed at milepost 32 near Jim Creek and 15.8 near Clallam Bay leading to Neah Bay, which we discussed in greater detail in an earlier blog. Both sites will require emergency contracts to reopen, and our design engineers are developing long-term fixes. We expect to have a contract available for competitive bids in early 2022.

On Friday, Dec. 3, crews repairs and opened Eagle Crest Way, a temporary bypass route around the slide at Clallam Bay for local traffic. This allows Clallam Bay and Neah Bay residents a way to access other needs across the peninsula.

A huge challenge

This storm's aftermath was an incredible challenge for our crews. Veteran employees like Hart work hard to keep our roadways clear. They talk with homeowners near closures about the incident and request entry to begin repairs, work with local public utility districts to clear powerlines, remove downed trees, and keep our tribal and jurisdictional partners updated.

Our crews simply attribute the work as part of their job, and while that's true, there's no arguing that the work they put in in these emergency situations is extraordinary. They care about our transportation facilities and the people who rely on them. Not only do they work in this area, they also live here, drive these roads and interact with others who live there, and they take great pride in keeping the roadways safe for everyone. Please remember to watch out for workers, and if you see them, slow down in work zones. If you get a chance, thank them for working diligently all year long.

Wednesday, December 8, 2021

It's beginning to look a lot like construction on I-405 in Totem Lake

By Victoria Miller

With the holiday season in full swing, it's possible that you are out on the roads doing some shopping for yourself or your loved ones. If you're traveling on Interstate 405 in Kirkland, you could be doing that shopping at the Village at Totem Lake. Do you ever wish there was another exit in that area? Well you're in luck because a new interchange is coming by way of the I-405/NE 132nd Street Interchange Project.

Why a new interchange?

We will construct a new on-ramp to northbound I-405 and a new off-ramp from southbound I-405 at Northeast 132nd Street, creating a half-diamond interchange that will complement the other half-diamond interchange at Northeast 116th Street farther south on I-405 in Kirkland. This new interchange will ease congestion on the local streets, improve non-motorized facilities, and provide an additional access point to and from I-405.

The project design also includes roundabouts at the future ramps, which will replace the traffic signals you see there today. We will create connections on Northeast 132nd Street to better manage traffic flow, and we will make sidewalk and bicycle lane improvements along both sides of Northeast 132nd Street and its connecting streets in the project area.

Once the project is complete, which is anticipated to be in 2024, travelers will have the option to access I-405 to and from the north at Northeast 132nd Street rather than traveling to the heavily congested Northeast 124th Street or Northeast 160th Street interchanges.

The I-405/Northeast 132nd Street Interchange Project is funded by the 2015 Connecting Washington funding package. The project is part of the I-405 Master Plan, which includes more than 150 projects designed to improve travel between Lynnwood and the Renton/Tukwila area.

What should I expect in the near term?

As of mid-November 2021, crews have begun pre-construction work including initial field investigations, surveying the work site, clearing brush, and conducting geotechnical borings. This work will continue in the first few months of 2022.

How can I find out more information?

Our team will be hosting its first quarterly public meeting at 12:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 15 via Zoom Webinar. We will be giving a project update, sharing more information about upcoming work, and answering your questions. Register to join us if you are interested in learning more about the project. You can also sign up for email updates on this project by messaging us at i405sr167program@wsdot.wa.gov. That's also a good email to send us any questions you may have about the project, or call us at 425-224-2433.

Wednesday, December 1, 2021

What’s the status of SR 112 in Clallam County?

Update: Jan. 18, 2022

Clallam Bay

On Tuesday, Jan. 18, we solicited bids to five emergency contractors related to long-term repairs to State Route 112 at milepost 15.8 near Clallam Bay. We expect to receive bids back on Thursday, Jan. 20 and, with a rapid award and execution process, start work the week of Jan. 24.

Work is expected to take 4-8 weeks to complete. The temporary bypass route via Eagle Crest Way will remain open and maintained by a separate contractor until repairs to the Clallam Bay site are complete.

Jim Creek

We are awaiting final design recommendations from our engineering geologists on long-term repairs to reopen SR 112 at milepost 32 near Jim Creek. Those recommendations determine our final plans and proposal documents we provide to contractors.

We expect to solicit bids on Friday, Feb. 4. With rapid award and execution of this emergency contract, we anticipate work to begin the week of Feb. 14.

Work is expected to take 4-8 weeks to complete

Update: Jan. 4, 2022

Clallam Bay

Final engineering, hydraulic design, and survey work to reopen SR 112 at milepost 15.8 near Clallam Bay is almost complete. We have obtained emergency entry permits to work along the hillside away from state right of way. We are pursuing long-term design solutions to reduce the frequency and severity of potential future slide activity.

With the recent winter weather behind us, our emergency contractor will grade the Eagle Crest Way bypass route on Wednesday, Jan. 5. Grading, patching, and plowing will continue through Friday, Jan. 7. Travelers should expect one-way alternating conditions with flaggers while repairs are underway to the route.

We expect to have a contract available for competitive bids the week of Jan. 10. Bid opening follows the next week. Because SR 112 is a vital link for the local community, we are conducting an expedited bid and award process of five days. We expect to have a contractor on board to begin site mobilization the week of Jan. 24.

Work to reopen the highway includes removing hillside and roadway debris, slope stabilization efforts, roadway repairs, installation of new guardrail, replacement of damaged culvert pipes, erosion control, and seeding.

A contract for the Clallam Bay slide will also include maintenance of Eagle Crest Way until work is complete. Construction should last up to 8 weeks. Eagle Crest Way will remain open to all traffic during construction.

Jim Creek

Further east, the repairs necessary to reopen SR 112 at milepost 32 near Jim Creek are more complex due to the nature of the slide zone. The work for Jim Creek will be a separate contract from the Clallam Bay slide. We expect to advertise for competitive bids in Feb. 2022. Right of way permitting and design work is underway through late January. Travelers will continue to detour around the slide via SR 113 and US 101 until further notice. Repairs to Jim Creek should take up to 8 weeks.

Please continue to follow our blog and social media channels for the latest updates on SR 112.

Update: Dec. 23, 2021

State Route 112 at milepost 15.8 near Clallam Bay remains blocked after more than 300 feet of the hillside toppled onto the highway last month. We continue to maintain the temporary bypass route at Eagle Crest Way to ensure nearby communities have access and necessary supplies. Maintenance crews smoothed the surface again last Thursday with several truckloads of gravel. Please travel slowly in the area to help keep the bypass roadway smoother.

On Monday, Dec. 20, emergency contractor Bruch and Bruch Construction, Inc. took over maintaining the temporary bypass road. Bruch and Bruch will grade the gravel road and monitor the temporary traffic signal until repairs to the Clallam Bay slide site are complete. A tentative schedule for releasing an emergency contract to repair the Clallam Bay and Jim Creek sites is underway now, as well as right-of-way permitting, survey and maintenance work.

Update: Dec. 14, 2021

SR 112 at milepost 15.8 near Clallam Bay remains saturated and unstable. Our engineering geologists have completed their preliminary investigations and expect construction to take approximately four to eight weeks to reopen the highway once we can get started clearing the roadway of debris and stabilizing the slope.

Further east, repairs to the nearly two and a half feet of roadway settlement at Jim Creek (milepost 32) are complex. Our crews have installed monitoring devices at Jim Creek to evaluate earth movement. After it's stable, we can begin the work to reopen the highway, and we expect the work to reopen SR 112 at Jim Creek to take four to six weeks.

Our designers, engineering geologists and construction experts are working together to develop a timeline for an emergency contract. We'll update this blog with more information about the process and contracts when we have it.

Update: Dec. 6, 2021

Crews completed repairs to a temporary bypass route at Eagle Crest Way on Friday, Dec. 3. Crews will maintain and operate the bypass while repairs to SR 112 are underway. Unfortunately, the Clallam Bay slide (milepost 15.8) is still moving. Additional debris fell Sunday, Nov. 28, extending the slide area another 200 feet across the roadway.

Engineering geologists are evaluating the Clallam Bay site to encompass new debris that includes drainage solutions prior to excavation work. While design work remains underway for both Clallam Bay and Jim Creek sites, project engineers hope to have a contract available for competitive bids in early 2022. Our team is working with local property owners to obtain temporary right-of-way permits to allow crews access to areas where repairs will be necessary. We will continue to update this blog as we know more information.


By Stefanie Randolph

It was a rough November for Clallam County, as you may have heard. A strong storm closed every state highway in the county on Nov. 15, keeping road crews busy trying to assess and clear debris and keeping travelers either stuck or finding long alternate routes.

While our crews worked around the clock to reopen as many roadways as possible – pulling crews from Aberdeen and Port Orchard to help – State Route 112 remains closed, and because it will require some extensive repairs, it could be a while before it fully reopens.

Why? Some of these pictures tell the story. An initial slide near Clallam Bay was 275 feet wide and covered 325 feet of the highway. And it's still moving – more debris fell this past Sunday, Nov. 28, extending the slide area another 200 feet across the roadway. In short, it's a really big slide, and still active and potentially dangerous area.

Left: The initial slide covering SR 112 near Clallam Bay was 275 feet wide and covered 325 feet of highway.
Right: Since the first slide, more debris has fallen onto the roadway at SR 112 near Clallam Bay,
preventing crews from safely moving into the area.

Our geologists are regularly monitoring the site but until the hillside is stable, we can't safely go in and clear debris or begin repairs. With Gov. Inslee's emergency declaration, we are able to expedite the process – including finding an emergency contractor – but there are still several steps that have to be taken, including designing a safe repair plan. We don't have a timeline yet for all of this as it's dependent on the site stabilizing enough for crews to move in.

Temporary help

The good news is we have restored some local travel. Earlier this week, we secured permits to establish a temporary bypass route around the slide area to accommodate local traffic including school buses and commercial vehicles. The route uses a private two-lane road with one-way alternating in one spot. On Wednesday, Dec. 1 and Thursday, Dec. 2 there will be some delays while we do some maintenance in that area. We'll maintain and repair this road until SR 112 is reopened. There will be signs to help travelers get through the area.

Left: Another 200 more feet of SR 112 have been covered by slide debris after the initial slide covered 325 feet of roadway. Right: Near Jim Creek, SR 112 has dropped about 2 feet and will need extensive repairs to fix.

What about Jim Creek?

The Clallam Bay site isn't the only spot that remains closed. SR 112 at milepost 32 near Jim Creek is also closed after the storm resulted in standing water, roadway settlement and a debris slide. Once our crews were able to safely respond to that area, they found that the road had dropped more than 2 feet and will also require an emergency contract to reopen.

This is the same area where we recently finished repairs after a storm in Dec. 2020 dropped the highway almost 13 feet.

Progress

After November's initial storm, SR 112 was also closed between mileposts 0-11 near Neah Bay. Our crews were able to clear that stretch. Flooding of the Hoko River prevented crews from evaluating damage west of milepost 12 until late Tuesday, November 16. Once they were able to get safely through, maintenance crews cleared 14 sites within the 11-mile section and reopened it on November 17. They removed debris from small slides and cleared drainage culverts to prevent flowing of further debris and damage to the roadway.

Real-time travel information is available on our updated travel center map and travelers can sign up for project email alerts. Once we know more, we will share that info but in the meantime, please do not go beyond road closure signs and stay alert for road workers.