Thursday, October 27, 2022

Aviation Commission recommends two potential paths to add aviation capacity in Washington

By Christina Crea

With demand increasing for commercial passenger, air cargo, and other services, the need for aviation capacity is rapidly outgrowing existing airports like Paine Field and Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. You can learn more about the growing demand for aviation on our website (PDF 1.4MB) .

In 2019 the State Legislature (PDF 76KB) created the Commercial Aviation Coordinating Commission (CACC) to think about how to meet the growing demand for aviation services, while also looking at options to reduce the noise and environmental impact associated with airports.

While the CACC is made up of representatives from the aviation industry, the public, airport communities, freight industry, state and local agencies and elected officials, our agency provides the CACC technical assistance and staff support from our Aviation Division.

In February 2022, the CACC recommended six preliminary airport sites (PDF 396KB) that have the potential to meet both short and long-term aviation needs. After months gathering public feedback and reviewing technical analyses, the CACC recently submitted its top two recommendations (PDF 974KB) to the Washington State Legislature.

Click to view full infographic (PDF 974KB)

Option 1 would add capacity to Paine Field and assumes that Sea-Tac executes its Sustainable Airport Master Plan. It includes a recommendation to assist other airports interested in providing regional commercial service.

Option 2 would continue to explore construction of a new, two-runway airport at one of three locations in Pierce or Thurston counties. Any consideration of a new airport would include additional technical analysis and community engagement.

"This is an opportunity for the state to consider how to meet capacity limits while also planning for an airport of the future," said David Fleckenstein, WSDOT Aviation Director and chairman of the commission. "Increasing the use of sustainable aviation fuels could significantly reduce harmful emissions. Emerging aeronautics technology could also reduce noise from airplanes while also providing additional commercial air service options to more airports around the state."

The CACC is looking at environmental effects, economic and technical criteria, and public feedback and opinion as it develops recommendations to improve Washington's air transportation capacity.

What's next

The best way to stay informed about the CACC is by signing up for our listserv and visiting our website as we continually add important updates and documents.

In the coming months, we will offer additional opportunities for public input – including another online open house early next year – and continue studying technical data about each option still being considered. The CACC will submit a final recommendation to the Legislature by June 15, 2023. After that it will be up to the Legislature and potential airport sponsors to act to increase Washington's aviation capacity.

Media links

Members of the Commercial Aviation Coordinating Commission sat down with TVW for an interview to talk about the CACC's work and the state's aviation capacity, opportunities and challenges. See the interview here:

Thursday, October 20, 2022

Keeping people moving while building a new SR 3 bridge for Chico Creek

By Doug Adamson

How do you build a bridge while vehicles drive across it? It seems impossible – but contractor crews for the SR 3 Chico Creek Fish Barrier Removal project are making it reality.

Our contractor, Guy F. Atkinson Construction, has been making steady progress to remove barriers to fish at Chico Creek by constructing new bridges on Chico Way and State Route 3. These bridges will create more space for Chico Creek to flow underneath the highway and improve fish passage and access to spawning habitat for native fish species.

Video via Guy F. Atkinson

Crews are building the bridge in phases to avoid major traffic disruptions on SR 3 near Bremerton. At the start of the project in fall 2021, they shifted northbound and southbound traffic to the outside lane and shoulders of SR 3 to create a work zone in the median. This allowed them to construct the center portion of the new SR 3 bridge.

What to expect

As soon as early November, traffic will shift onto the newly built center portion of the bridge and move the work zones to the outside lane and shoulders of northbound and southbound SR 3.

Our crews will keep people moving through the area by keeping two lanes of traffic in each direction. They will install a permanent barrier to divide the northbound and southbound lanes. Once the shift is in place, people will notice they are driving on the center of the roadway. The reduced speed limit through the work zone will remain at 45 miles per hour.

During Stage 2 construction, traffic will shift to the inside lanes of SR 3, close the Chico Way Northwest on-ramp to southbound SR 3, and realign the stream that flows under Chico Way Northwest.

What’s next

Project construction will continue through winter 2023.Once completed, travelers will use the new on-ramp and exit locations for SR 3 at Chico Way Northwest to access the two new bridges. This will create more space for Chico Creek and the unnamed tributary and eliminate the need for culverts.

Once the project is completed in winter 2023, fish will have access to 21 miles of potential habitat and an improved connection to Chico Creek and Chico Bay.

Chico Way work

In addition to SR 3, crews also have worked to remove barrier to fish on Chico Way at the interchange. This has included building a new bridge that carries Chico Way over an unnamed tributary to Chico Creek. In this instance, we built a new path for the tributary which will feed into Chico Creek. Logs and root wads were added along the water. The wood provides a dual purpose. It helps stabilize the hillside while providing habitat for fish. The design is intended to benefit fish at every lifecycle.

A new and improved path for small unnamed creek which feeds into Chico Creek

Heads up, phone down

Please keep our crews, yourself, and others safe by driving cautiously through work zones. We know traffic shifts can take a little getting used to at first, so slow down and stay aware so our crews can get this work done safely. Visit the project website for more information and to sign up for email updates.

The bridge being built on SR 3 near Bremerton. The span will eventually carry the highway over a rerouted portion of Chico Creek.

Thursday, October 13, 2022

Increase in work zone crashes leads to safety adjustments to protect workers, drivers

By Mark Krulish

Just after midnight on Oct. 7, our maintenance crews were sweeping the shoulders on southbound I-5 near 56th Street in Tacoma when a driver hit our truck mounted attenuator (TMA) that was in place protecting our workers. Soon after, another TMA we moved into place to protect the collision scene was also hit. A third vehicle then tried to cut through the scene to take the 56th street ramp and hit one of the cars involved in the first crash.

We are fortunate that neither of the workers inside the TMAs were seriously hurt and that none of our other workers were hit. Road workers have families, they have friends and they deserve to get home safely each and every night. One of the trucks did sustain significant damage while the other had minor damage. And this type of incident has become more common lately.

A rise in nighttime work zone crashes – like this one recently on I-5 in Tacoma – means we’re making some safety adjustments to help keep our workers and drivers safe.

Our highway maintenance crews are on the road just about every weekday of the year, both day and night. The vast majority of collisions in our work zones happen at night, with lower visibility once the sun sets combined with a rise in inebriated and drowsy drivers putting road workers at greater risk.

This is one of the reasons you may see our workers around more than usual during the daytime. While we recognize that this may affect traffic, nothing is more important than the safety of our workers and the traveling public, and we need to take steps to help protect them.

While our busy construction season is coming to an end, we do a lot of maintenance work in the winter, including road and guardrail repair, clearing debris from drainage systems and removing tree limbs so they don’t interfere with power lines during winter storms. In the past we’ve done some of that work at night. More will be happening in daylight now as drivers are generally more alert, and our crews and work zone signage are easier to see.

Drivers may see more roadwork during the day when it is typically safer for both workers and drivers.

That doesn’t mean we’re eliminating nighttime work altogether, but we need to adjust how we do things to increase safety.

This may include:

  • Reducing the number of times our crews are exposed to traffic. This includes bundling various repairs into one job. For example, if we have to fix a guardrail, we may also do work like crack sealing and litter or graffiti removal at the same time to avoid having a second work zone.
  • Closing more lanes or creating a longer work zone area to create a larger buffer for crews
  • Using additional safety equipment on the roads, such as temporary portable rumble strips and zipper barriers

A good example of this is the repair job we’ve had on I-5 in southern Thurston County over the past couple weeks. Crews have been repairing cracks and restriping between lanes on the highway. We’ve had two lanes closed on short sections between Maytown and the Thurston/Lewis county line. We’re doing this during the day because of the increase in dangerous driver behavior, particularly on I-5 at night. Crews will return to the southbound side of I-5 next week from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday, Oct. 17. This may mean more congestion around work zones and longer delays – but we simply must take steps to improve worker and traveler safety.

And as you are driving through, please slow down and keep an eye out for our workers and work zones. Please make sure you give them enough room, don’t drink and drive and be sure you’re alert and focused. You play a part in their safety, and we need your help.

Tuesday, October 11, 2022

Revive I-5 pavement replacement is first of many projects coming to Everett area

By Tom Pearce

Revive I-5 comes to Everett this weekend, which means people traveling north through the city on the freeway need to plan around the traffic effects it will have. While Revive I-5 has mostly been in Seattle so far, other sections of I-5 around the region – including this one – need preservation work.

Starting at 8 p.m. Friday, Oct. 14, northbound I-5 will be reduced to two lanes from Lowell Road – about two miles north of SR 526 – to Everett Avenue. The closure will last until 5 a.m. Monday, Oct. 17.

During the closure, the regular off-ramps to Broadway and 41st Street will be closed, but the HOV ramp to Broadway, with access to 41st, will be open to all drivers.

This lane reduction will create a safe work zone for our contractor crews while they replace many broken concrete panels.

This section of I-5 opened in the late 1960s. The original designers expected it to last about 25 years before needing major work. While it's lasted twice that long, this section of the freeway is showing its age. Numerous concrete panels are broken. We need weekend-long lane reductions to replace those panels.

Replacing a section of panels, which was done here as part of an earlier
Revive I-5 project, can be more cost-efficient.

It's much more cost-efficient and will result in a better final product to do this work during a weekend lane reduction. Our contractor crews from Acme Concrete Paving need to dig out the panels, make sure the soil underneath is in good condition to support the new panels, then pour the concrete and let it cure.

After more than 50 years of use, the freeway also has tire ruts, worn by the roughly 80,000 vehicles that use this portion of road daily. To fix these, our contractor will grind off the high spots outside the ruts to provide a more level driving surface. This will reduce puddling when it rains, improving safety.

Before they can take out broken panels, crews cut them so they can break them and remove them.

Plenty more work on I-5 and SR 529 corridor

This project is the first of several occurring in the Everett/Marysville area. In addition to the current work to replace broken concrete panels, starting in 2023 several other preservation projects are planned, including:

  • Replacing four bridge expansion joints on I-5 between 41st Street and US 2 in Everett
  • Four projects to repair and/or repaint SR 529 bridges between Everett and Marysville
  • A new northbound HOV lane as well as an interchange at I-5 and SR 529 to improve access to and from Marysville
  • Replacing a damaged girder at the 12th Street Northeast overpass over I-5 in north Everett

While we have these separated into several projects, we understand that as local travelers all you'll see is a lot of work. That's why we're already planning to coordinate the work schedules as these projects come online. The goal is to limit the number of lane closures occurring at any one time.

We realize these closures on I-5 and SR 529 are going to have a major effect on everyone traveling between Everett and Marysville. However, preservation work is critical for aging infrastructure. That's a huge part of what we do every day, but we'll also continue to make sure you can get to your destinations.