Thursday, June 29, 2023

Improving habitat for fish along Washington’s central coastline and western Olympic Peninsula

By Doug Adamson

A multi-year effort to correct 29 culverts under US 101 and State Route 109 is now underway. These 29 culverts, located in Grays Harbor, Jefferson and Clallam counties, are being replaced now through 2026.

Correcting 29 culverts sounds daunting, especially if you live, work or travel through the area. It’s going to be a challenge and while we have a plan to try to keep people moving as we open new habitat for fish, we need people to prepare for some challenges.

An old culvert under US 101 in Grays Harbor County is being replaced in July.

Nuts and bolts of the work

Our contractor will remove old, outdated culverts which are barriers to native fish. After digging through both lanes of the highway, we will replace the culverts with new bridges or supersized concrete culverts. We then restore each stream.

If the terrain and surrounding area allow it, we’re able to build a bypass road around the work zone.  The bypass road keeps travelers moving while crews work on the project. Sometimes the terrain or landscape doesn’t allow a bypass road, so we work with our local county partners to find detour routes.  There’s also a benefit of using already established detour routes. It allows our contractor to get in, work around the clock, and get the work done faster to minimize the overall impacts to travelers. Building and eventually removing a bypass road adds a lot of time to the overall project.

2023 work zones – US 101 north of Hoquiam

We have six locations under US 101, about 10 miles north of Hoquiam where culverts are barriers to fish. This summer we’re fixing those barriers. At three of those locations, our contractor will have US 101 reduced to a single lane around the work zones. A temporary traffic signal will control the flow of traffic around those work zones on the single-lane road.

23-day closure of US 101 in July

The remaining three locations will require a total closure of US 101 with drivers using a 23-mile detour that starts near Aberdeen and Youmans Road.

  • US 101 will close at 8 p.m. Sunday, July 9 around-the-clock until 11:59 p.m. Monday, July 31.
  • During the closure, crews will work around-the-clock to remove and replace three culverts.
  • Travelers will want to plan for additional travel time during the closure in July.

Work to correct culverts at all six locations under US 101 north of Hoquiam is anticipated to wrap up this fall.

The US 101 detour in Aberdeen
The detour route for the US 101 closure in Grays Harbor County this July

Future work zones in 2024 through 2026

Work happening this summer is just a warmup for what is coming in 2024 and beyond. In 2024, crews will begin to correct another 12 culverts under SR 109 from Hoquiam to Ocean City, and under US 101 in Jefferson and Clallam counties.

The map below shows all 29 culvert locations and how they are currently bundled with estimated construction timelines. Timelines can change based on supply chain issues, design challenges, weather and available crew. We will share more details about work happening on SR 109 and other sites on US 101 in early 2024.

A look at the 29 culvert locations that will be replaced in Grays Harbor,
Jefferson and Clallam counties

Plan ahead, stay informed, drive safe

There are going to be a lot of work zones across not only western Washington and the Olympic Peninsula, but also the entire state to navigate in 2023. We need all travelers to stay informed and plan ahead. Real-time traffic information is available on the statewide travel map and our app.

Be sure to slow down whenever you’re going through work zones.

Please help keep road workers safe. Anytime you’re approaching a work zone please remember to:

  • Slow down– drive the posted speeds, they are there for your safety.
  • Be kind– our workers are out there helping to keep you safe and improve the roadways.
  • Pay attention– both to workers directing you and surrounding traffic; put your phone down when behind the wheel.
  • Stay calm – expect delays, leave early or take an alternate route if possible; no meeting or appointment is worth risking someone’s life.

Monday, June 26, 2023

Be prepared for road work if planning summer trips around Olympic Peninsula

By Cara Mitchell

If your list for summer getaways this year includes doing the loop around Washington’s Olympic Peninsula, then this blog is for you! We have several work zones on US 101 and adjacent state highways all the way around the peninsula that you will want to prepare for. The peninsula includes Grays Harbor, Jefferson, Clallam, and Mason counties, and right in the middle sits Olympic National Park.

Some of these work zones are hundreds of miles apart. Yet they all have one thing in common: fish.

We correct fish barriers on state highways to help salmon recovery and comply with state laws. While we have restored hundreds of barriers since 1991, we have a lot of work ahead of us. You can read more about this effort on our fish passage webpage. Let's dive into our planned construction for July and August around the peninsula where detours and potential added travel time will be needed.

There are only certain windows where work crews are allowed to be in the water
for fish barrier work, and those are often in the middle of the summer.

Grays Harbor County

State Route 8

As you’re heading to or from the beach this summer, be aware that we are resurfacing more than 20 miles of SR 8 between US 101 and US 12. Most of the work is eastbound and the speed limit is reduced to 45 mph in the work zones. Travelers will see daytime and nighttime lane closures. The good news is once the work is finished, you’ll have a smoother ride.

Project webpage: SR 8/US 12 to US 101 - Paving

In addition to paving SR 8, crews are setting up two work zones on either side of McCleary. You may see some single-lane closures on your trip as these work zones are established throughout the summer. Crews are replacing outdated culverts under the highway and the speed limit is reduced to 50 mph through the work zones.

US 12 between Elma and Montesano

We are correcting three culverts under US 12 between Elma and Montesano and to do this, crews will reduce US 12 to a single lane in each direction at each culvert site as work progresses. Reduced speed limits will also be in place through the work zones.

Project webpage: US 12 – SR 8 – Grays Harbor County Fish Passage Barriers

US 101 north of Hoquiam

We have six locations about 10 miles north of Hoquiam where culverts under US 101 are barriers to fish. This summer, three of those locations will have US 101 reduced to a single lane and drivers will go through the work zone with one-way alternating traffic controlled by temporary signals. 

At the remaining three locations, from 8 p.m. Sunday, July 9 until 11:59 p.m. Monday, July 31, two miles of US 101 will close to all travelers between Failor Lake Road and Larson Brothers Road. The 23-mile signed detour will be in place that starts and/or ends near Aberdeen and Youmans Road, depending on the direction you’re traveling. The route will be signed so drivers know where they are going. This video shows the detour route so you know what to expect before you head out.

Project webpage: US 101 Grays Harbor Creeks

US 101 in Clallam County, east of Sequim

The next culvert location you should know about is on US 101 east of Port Angeles and Sequim. From 7 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 13 through the evening of Friday, Aug. 18, US 101 will be reduced to a single lane near the Clallam and Jefferson County line between Guiles/Knapp Road and Chicken Coop/Diamond Point Road. Traffic will alternate, controlled by a signal, around-the-clock.

This is an area with no good alternate routes. Travelers approaching the work zone will see up to three-hour delays approaching the work zone, depending on the time of day, and even which day you travel.

Based on our traffic modeling, the days with the longest backups will be the afternoon and early evenings of Monday, Thursday and Friday. Tuesday and Wednesday look slightly better, but we're still looking at waiting 60 minutes versus 90 minutes to get past the work zone. The term “better” is relative.

If you must travel through the area, be prepared for hours-long delays approaching the work zone.

Historically, every time our crews close a lane of US 101 for ongoing maintenance or emergency repairs, the traffic backups are challenging. Local roads near US 101 need to be preserved for local access only, especially for emergency responders. We need your help to keep traffic backups to a minimum during this week in August. If you can, please travel during non-peak hours. Go early, stay late, telework or carpool or use transit if you can.

Project webpage: US 101 Jefferson and Clallam Counties Fish Barriers

US 101 in Jefferson County near Quilcene

For no more than 25 consecutive days between July 16, and Aug. 19, a section of US 101 near Quilcene will close to replace the box culverts under the highway near Leland Valley Cut-Off Road. All traffic will detour around the construction using Center Road. Freight haulers will need to detour during construction via SR 3 and SR 104 as the Little Quilcene River Bridge on Center Road has load weight restrictions in place.

Tractor trailers with three axles or less over 23 tons will need to follow the detour route. Commercial freight haulers with up to seven axles over 36 tons will also need to follow the detour route. We will update the project webpage with the specific dates of the closure once they are confirmed.

Project webpage: US 101 – Leland Creek and Unnamed Tributaries

SR 106 in Mason County by Twanoh State Park

If you use SR 106 from SR 3 and Belfair over to US 101 and Hood Canal, plan for delays and a detour. From June 19 to July 9 and again from July 31 to Sept. 1, travelers will see intermittent one-way alternating traffic and delays with traffic stops up to 15 minutes during construction near Twanoh State Park.

An around-the-clock closure of SR 106 at Twanoh State Park is planned between July 10 and July 30. Travelers will detour using US 101 and SR 3 through Shelton.

Project webpage: SR 106/Twanoh Creek – Remove Fish Barrier

Planning around fish, and your summer vacation

Fish passage projects have approved dates for when crews are allowed to work in the water. Often those dates occur in July and August, which is coincidently, the same time as summer vacations. Our goal is to keep both people and the project moving. If the terrain and surrounding area allows, we’re able to build temporary roads around culverts that we are replacing. This helps keep summer travelers moving while our contractors work on the projects. Sometimes the terrain or landscape doesn’t allow temporary roads to be built. In those instances, we work with local city and county partners to find detours routes using pre-established streets and roads. This allows us to get the work completed faster, potentially minimizing the overall impacts to travelers during the work.

Safety first

We said this before, and we’re saying it again: please help keep road workers safe. Anytime you’re approaching a work zone please remember to:

  • Slow down – drive the posted speeds, they are there for your safety.
  • Be kind – our workers are out there helping to keep you safe and improve the roadways.
  • Pay attention – both to workers directing you and surrounding traffic; put your phone down when behind the wheel.
  • Stay calm – expect delays, leave early or take an alternate route if possible; no meeting or appointment is worth risking someone’s life.

Please download our app and follow us on social media before venturing into the rainforest or to a windswept beach. Project timelines can and do change. We will update closure information on our app, project webpages and social media as it becomes available.

Know before you go and stay informed on the road

Check real time travel conditions, view cameras and travel times


Download WSDOT’s free smartphone app

Email updates

Sign up for email updates using GovDelivery

Highway Advisory Radio (HAR)

Olympic Peninsula travelers can listen to the Highway Advisory Radio (HAR) at the following frequencies:

  • Hood Canal Bridge at SR 104: 530 KHz
  • Kingston Ferry Terminal: 1610 KHz
  • US 101 at SR 20: 1580 KHz
  • US 101 at SR 113: 1580 KHz
  • US 101 at SR 112: 1580 KHz


Follow us on Twitter @wsdot_tacoma

Thursday, June 15, 2023

June Déjà vu: SR 9 in Lake Stevens closed June 21-28 for roundabout construction

By Diana Barreto

You read that right. It’s happening again! We’re closing both directions of Stat Route 9 between Lundeen Parkway and SR 204 in Lake Stevens starting at 9 p.m. Wednesday, June 21 through 5 a.m. Wednesday, June 28.

This should all feel very familiar to folks who live or frequent the area since the closure will give crews the time needed to build the second and final multi-lane roundabout as part of the SR 9/SR 204 Intersection Improvements project.

While we understand that a multi-day closure is inconvenient, a second one in the same month can feel like an even bigger challenge for both local and regional drivers. Hang in there with us! After this closure the project is practically done and all that will be left to do is striping and lighting which will only require some nighttime lane reductions.

The detour around the SR 9 closure between SR 204 and Lundeen Parkway
takes traffic along Lundeen and Market Place.

Much like the last closure in early June, our crews will remove pavement, build the multi-lane roundabout at the intersection of SR 9 and SR 204, complete drainage improvements and install new signs.

When this roundabout is complete, people will have direct access from Frontier Village to SR 9 and SR 204, as well as a variety of options to navigate the area.

The closure may have to be rescheduled if it rains so make sure to visit our project website here and subscribe to receive email and text updates by clicking visiting this website (and selecting Snohomish County Newsletter) for the most up-to-date information about the closure.

Plan ahead for this closure

Business access will remain open during the closure. If you’re traveling locally, please avoid unnecessary trips through the area if possible, carpool to reduce the number of vehicles adding to congestion, or plan to travel at off-peak times and allow for extra travel time.

Please drive carefully, avoid distractions and be aware of other drivers. Stay alert in work zones – the crews are working to keep everyone safe and traffic moving and they need to be safe as well.

The first multi-lane roundabout being built on SR 9 and North Davies and Vernon roads

About roundabouts

Roundabouts improve safety by acting as traffic calming devices – slowing down approaching vehicles – and reducing the likelihood of T-bone or head-on collisions. Drivers should lower their speeds to 15-20 mph as they approach and drive around the roundabout.

Here are a few key things to remember when driving through roundabouts:

  • Yield to drivers already in the roundabout
  • Stay in your lane; do not change lanes
  • Do not stop in the roundabout
  • Avoid driving next to oversize vehicles
  • Use your turn signal when exiting a roundabout to let vehicles waiting to enter know if they can proceed.

To find more resources and videos on how to navigate a roundabout please visit this website.

Roundabouts and pedestrians

Modern roundabouts also are safer than traditional intersections for people walking or rolling – another reason for this work on SR 9.

Crosswalks are set farther back to allow drivers more time to react to people before they merge into or exit the roundabout. Triangular islands between lanes also provide safe areas for pedestrians to wait if they choose to only cross one section at a time.

The graphic below shows pedestrian and bicyclist movements that will be available through the SR 9/SR 204 area once the project is completed later this year. The new crosswalk across the SR 9 roundabout will be fully operational shortly after the extended weekend closure is complete.

The bike and pedestrian improvements at the intersection of SR 9 and SR 204

Catch us in town!

Over the next couple months our project outreach team will be hosting pop-ups at different locations near the SR 9/SR 204 intersection and around Lake Stevens to share information and safety tips for driving through roundabouts. We’ll be sharing more information about those pop-up dates and locations through our Snohomish County Newsletter and through social media. Stay tuned! We hope to see you at one of our pop-ups!

Wednesday, June 14, 2023

Everett seismic retrofit project receives unforeseen 'gift'

By David Rasbach

Many of our projects encounter challenges and unexpected costs along the way. But this one is simply for the birds.

Last winter, while preparing a project to seismically strengthen four bridges along State Route 526 in Everett, our contractor, Kramer North America, discovered the structures under two of the bridges were covered with an exceptional amount of … well, pigeon poo.

It was everywhere. Girders and supports were covered with an extraordinary amount of excrement – over an inch deep in many places – prompting our construction team leader to call it “shocking.” He’d never seen that much bird poop under a bridge before.

Cue Jeff Goldblum from “Jurassic Park,” saying “that’s one big pile of…” well, you get the drift.

Where is Mike Rowe from “Dirty Jobs” when you need him?

Bio-hazard workers remove bird poop from beneath the SR 526 overpass at Hardeson Road in Everett. More than an inch of excrement coated some areas underneath the bridge before work began to seismically strengthen it to better withstand an earthquake.

Before work could begin, a bio-hazard sub-contractor team cleaned up the pigeons’ more-than-generous deposits on the east sides of the bridges, creating a safer, cleaner work zone for crews to bolster the bridges to better withstand an earthquake.

Now that this project is nearing its halfway mark and with work about to swap to the columns along the west side of those bridges, it’s time to get out the ol’ pooper scooper once again. It’s a crappy process that will take about two weeks.

Keeping it clean

As anyone who has ever cleaned a bathroom will tell you, the worst part about the entire job is how quickly it gets dirty again.

To make sure our feathered friends don’t despoil the newly sanitized areas under the bridges again, our contractor got permission to mount gel discs underneath the bridges as a way to prevent a recurrence of poo. These discs deter all species of birds from the area by:

  • Sight – Birds see the discs the same way they would see smoke or fire and stay away for self-preservation.
  • Smell – Birds find the gel discs’ citronella and peppermint oil scents unpleasant and stay away.
  • Touch – Birds do not like their feet to touch sticky substances, such as the gel on the discs.
After cleaning bird poop from underneath the SR 526 overpass at Hardeson Road, crews installed discs to persuade the birds from landing underneath the bridge and soiling the area again.

The discs are safe for the environment and are made of all-green ingredients. They previously have been used on other bridges, roof tops, skylights, signs, HVAC equipment and even enclosed spaces.

So far, they have been effective in keeping the birds away from the bridge structures and keeping a safe, poop-free work zone for our contractor crews to complete this project.

Pigeons potentially discussing pooping on our bridges

Big thanks to everyone for their patience while we get this messy work done. And if you're a pigeon or other bird who happens to be reading this, please limit your pooping on our bridges.

Tuesday, June 13, 2023

In the ring or on the dock, ferry attendant works hard for the public

By Kathy Mesa

We love reminding people that our workers are more than just a hard hat, orange vest or someone to guide you on a ferry. They are coaches. They are volunteers. They are professional wrestlers. Wait. … say what?!

You heard right. Kingston Ferry Terminal Attendant Randy Zellers is also known as TI Kwon Bro in the ring.

At his day job, a friendly and down-to-earth Randy makes sure the bridges and planks at our dock are ready for service. He helps travelers get on and off the ferry safely and keeps the facility tidy and secure. Randy was a familiar face to many on our central and south Sound routes until recently transferring to Kingston.

Randy Zellers greets people at our Kingston ferry terminal with a smile but
greets his opponents in the wrestling ring with nunchucks

But Randy also knows how to get rough and rowdy with nunchucks as a wrestler with North West Pro. He’s come face to face with many opponents, hurling them across the ring as fans holler and cheer from the side. You can watch Randy in action at various locations across the Pacific Northwest and California but mainly at the Key Peninsula Civic Center in Vaughn – about 17 miles south of Port Orchard.

Randy has been interested in wrestling since he was a kid. Several years ago, he attended a live professional wrestling event as a spectator and had a light-bulb moment.

“I was just like, oh wait a minute. …this is just like a play, but only professional wrestling gives the excuse that it will be Halloween 365 days a year,” Randy said. “It’s just another excuse to put on a costume and play somebody. …I can do this.”

Kingston ferry terminal attendant Randy Zellers – aka TI Kwon Bro, with his nunchucks on a poster for an upcoming professional wrestling event

With a first-degree black belt in Taekwondo, Randy was ready to strike. He started out with Snoqualmie Championship Wrestling before landing with North West Pro in 2018. Since then, he’s quickly gained a lot of success, winning a title last year.

To prepare for a match, TI Kwon Bro gets in the zone by listening to music and running a couple laps. Then he meets with his fellow wrestlers to go over the game plan of getting the crowd riled up for an action-packed evening. According to Randy, when you’re in the ring, you’re telling a story.

Whether at one of our terminals or a wrestling event, Randy enjoys meeting and talking with people. He’s been with our ferries division for a little more than a year and says the work schedule allows him to be flexible.

“I can afford to do things for myself and my family,” Randy said. “Throughout the whole season, I’ve been on the same shift because it works out for me. We’ll see what the future has for me here. I have a funny feeling I’ll be staying around here for a real long time.”

Monday, June 12, 2023

Sharing best practices and innovations at AASHTO Conference

By Elizabeth Kasprick

This past may we were excited to take part in the American Association of State Transportation Officials (AASHTO) Spring Meeting in Seattle, where we were able to share some of the innovative practices we’ve been working on.

Our Innovations Day featured 13 interactive tables and displays. Between sessions, conference attendees had the opportunity to learn about innovations from across our agency and chat with our staff. It was an excellent opportunity to connect with people and brainstorm new ways to apply these ideas.  

Conference attendees browse our Innovation Day tables at the
AASHTO spring meeting in Seattle

Here are some of the highlights.

Speed safety camera system to increase work zone safety

The Speed Safety Camera System is a tool to increase safety for crews in work zones, always a top priority for us. In summer 2021, speeds in several counties showed an average increase of 10% over those driven for the same days in 2019. For King, Pierce and Snohomish counties between March and July, daily speeds averaged 12% higher compared to pre-pandemic levels. This has a significant affect on our work zones. According to crash data from the Washington State Patrol, almost 20% of the work zone collisions reported in 2020 can be attributed to high speed alone. Higher speeds in work zones can often lead to more severe injury and fatalities.

Speed Safety Camera Systems allow the Washington State Patrol to remotely enforce reduced speed limits and change driver behavior. Earlier this year the Legislature approved the use of cameras in work zones and they will go live in July 2024.

Implementation of speed cameras in work zones starting July 2024 will help
keep our crews and the public safe

Planning and studies to be more inclusive and diverse

We saw multiple projects emphasizing inclusion and diversity. The Interstate 405/State Route 167 Program equity and mobility dashboards study the travel patterns of communities within the I-405/SR 167 corridor. The Office of Equity and Civil Rights promoted their work to advance Washington’s Pro-Equity and Anti-Racism (PEAR) work and shared information regarding our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Plan, the Diversity Advisory Groups and the Culture of Belonging Program.

We are also bringing a more inclusive lens to planning future non-visual ADA pavement treatments for closed crossings. Using the color red and visible, raised texture, closed crossings, pavement markings would provide a clearer delineation for people with all ranges of vision. The Development Division is partnering with the University of Washington and City of Seattle in a research study to determine best treatment options, gather feedback from the disability community on the overall effectiveness of the tactile application and establish a future standard specification for closed crossing non-visual treatments. This work will involve applying non-visual pavement treatments to five intersections in the downtown corridor.

Exploring non-visual ADA pavement treatments for closed crossings in downtown Seattle

Increasing our capacity to be environmentally resilient

We are taking a new approach to stormwater management that builds environmental resilience with the Puget Sound Gateway SR 167 Riparian Restoration Program (RRP). The RRP is an integrated, holistic approach to meeting regulatory requirements in ways that provide greater environmental benefits than traditional mitigation methods. The RRP, in combination with associated roadside restoration areas, encompasses 176 acres on both sides of I-5 in Fife and Milton, and segments of the new SR 167 corridor in Tacoma and Pierce County. The RRP will restore land altered by previous uses, mitigate stream and wetland impacts, and provide floodplain management for Hylebos Creek and other tributary streams in the project area. When complete, the project will reduce flood levels and improve degraded in-stream, riparian and floodplain habitats, and provide long-term benefits to fish and wildlife.

Taking new approaches to existing practices

A testament to the desire to build and improve on processes can be seen in the Moveable Sign Fabrication System. The two-person sign installation team working out of our Union Gap sign shop, is responsible for building and installing signs along highways in the region. This team identified the need for a new way to assemble and fabricate the large sign panels. They needed a table that could adjust to the height of the sign during fabrication. The team designed a hybrid model to fit their needs – a table with easy adjustment to efficiently build signs with less physical demand. The benefits of using the movable sign fabrication table are it requires less physical strain and improves sign fabrication efficiency. This is an innovative practice that we are already replicating due to the success of this approach.

A movable sign fabrication system was developed by our own sign shop team

Innovation Challenge Program

Some of these innovations were made possible through our Innovations Challenge sponsored by the Maintenance and Operations Division. The Innovations Challenge program is open to all full-time maintenance and operations employees. Entries are accepted throughout the year and an annual cash prize is awarded both to the nominee and their corresponding maintenance area budget! Categories for the innovations challenge include tools and equipment, technology best practices and techniques best practices. This is just one way that we continue to encourage and advance innovations!

Our staff was excited to share some of our work at May’s AASHTO conference

Friday, June 9, 2023

Camp Hope: 18 months of trials, tribulations and, eventually, resolution

By Ryan Overton

It’s been a long journey with the Camp Hope homeless encampment. It’s evolved from a small protest in front of City Hall that got little attention on the east side of the state to become the state’s largest encampment and the focus of heated lawsuits. It was daunting, but we’re now grateful to say we’ve achieved our overall goal of closing the site and offering safe, meaningful housing to those living there.

Oftentimes in government we never know what the day will bring. Sharing news about emergency closures, collisions, construction, collecting public input on planned projects and serious events is unpredictable but pretty standard for WSDOT. Until late 2021 regularly talking about homeless encampments – at least in eastern Washington – was still pretty rare.

A look at Spokane’s Camp Hope in November 2022 (left) and June 2023. After much work and coordination, the camp closed on June 9.

Now that Camp Hope is resolved, we hope the city administration will re-focus their attention on creating a safe, stable, broad safety net for the thousands that continue to live unsheltered within city limits. The reality is that Camp Hope was a symbol of a much larger problem and has been on a trajectory to resolution for many, many months. The most recent point-in-time count done by the city of Spokane counted 2,390 people experiencing homelessness throughout Spokane County on a single night in February 2023. That’s an increase of 36% compared to the point-in-time count conducted in 2022. Of the 2,390 people experiencing homelessness in the most recent count, 955 individuals were identified as living outside, a 16% increase from 2022.

Lack of shelter space causes Camp Hope to grow on WSDOT site    

Camp Hope really started in December 2021, when a small group gathered outside of Spokane’s City Hall to protest the lack of available shelter bed space for unhoused individuals within the city of Spokane.

The size of the protest grew and after a few days, during which the city threatened to sweep the people living outside City Hall, the group of roughly 60 or so individuals relocated without permission to a parcel of state land controlled by WSDOT in Spokane’s East Central neighborhood.

We had not faced an encampment of this size before in Spokane, nor had we seen this issue on this type of land – non-active right of way (not along an existing highway). As a transportation agency we don’t have legal authority to remove people on our own. We rely on local partners to identify other housing or shelter options for people and help with outreach. We've seen from experience that people don’t just disappear after a sweep; they scatter and the challenges associated with encampments remain.

We hit countless roadblocks early on and, without any significant change in options or cooperation from the city, the size of Camp Hope continued to grow, eventually numbering an estimated 600+ by the summer of 2022.

The Right of Way Safety Initiative – a hand up, not hand outs

In late spring of 2022, the Legislature and Gov. Jay Inslee allocated money for a new approach to encampments on state rights of way, what is now known as the Right of Way Safety Initiative.

Three state agencies – WSDOT, the Department of Commerce and the Washington State Patrol – were tasked with carrying out this work in the initial five counties: King, Pierce, Thurston, Snohomish and Spokane. Statewide, the legislative proviso and other funding provided $143 million for the work; Spokane’s share of that funding brought nearly $25 million to Spokane County to address encampments on state rights of way, also known as Camp Hope.

This work was based on what we had seen work best in other locations, both in our state and others: intensive social service outreach with the people living in the encampment to put them in touch with services and find the best housing for them from the available options. Every person living homeless has a different set of needs and challenges and there is no one-size-fits all solution, so working with each individual often brings about more lasting progress. The initiative funding also allowed for new housing to be created, one of the critical needs in resolving homeless encampments.

Service providers – Empire Health Foundation, Catholic Charities Eastern Washington, Spokane Low Income Housing Coalition, Jewels Helping Hands, Compassionate Addiction Treatment, Revive Counseling, Volunteers of America and i2 Strategies – were the backbone of this work with assistance from several state agencies. In addition to the three proviso partners, the state departments of Health, Licensing and Social and Health Services worked to help get the site occupants identification, birth certificates and sign them up for eligible programs – which are key to helping people find jobs and housing. Community volunteer and service groups – far too many to list here – also helped their Camp Hope neighbors by bringing food, clothing and assistance.

Additionally, WSDOT partnered with and funded two Pre-Employment Preparation Program trainings, which provided people from Camp Hope with hands-on training, job skills and certifications that can help them earn a livable wage once completing the program. Nearly 20 people graduated from two sessions.

The first Pre-Employment Preparation Program graduation held at the Northeast Community Center. The graduates, made up of people from Camp Hope, received hands-on training, job skills and certifications to help them earn a livable wage.

Closing Camp Hope

It took time to start the process to assess and assist the large number of people on site, but gradually people were offered services and new options and began to move out of Camp Hope – and numbers began to drop. A mix of options helped, including the Catalyst project run by Catholic Charities coming online in the latter half of 2022 (it currently houses more than 90 people), other housing options being developed, people reuniting with family through service providers, learning of assistance to help them find their own housing, or choosing to leave the site.

An initial provider count in the fall found 467 people living at Camp Hope. The first independent count completed by contractor i2-Strategies in December 2022 identified 198 people living at the site. By spring 2023, after working through the proven process of matching occupants with safe, secure housing options, it was clear the end was near.

As the work continued – including substantial state funds for increased service and housing options – relationships with the city and county grew complicated and we would be remiss if we didn’t acknowledge the tension and lawsuits. It made the work harder, but our focus to resolve the site never wavered. We also appreciate the work by city council members who helped address this issue, as well as the productive partnership with the new sheriff who took office in January.

On June 9, we reached our major milestone and achieved the goal we stated from the beginning: we permanently closed Camp Hope in a safe and humane way. WSDOT will now work to mitigate and repair the site until it is needed for the North Spokane Corridor construction.

Living up to the Camp Hope name

It’s been a long 18 months, and we’re constantly reminded that the most difficult work was done on-site by the service providers and those living unsheltered at Camp Hope. Through all the ups and downs, they kept working to find new options and solutions and do the hard work of taking risks and trying new things.

There were struggles. People at the site faced tremendous personal challenges and experienced major changes to their lives in receiving the services they needed along with the housing. At times the work felt impossible, but still it continued. Providers showed up day-in and day-out, worked together with those living at Camp Hope to overcome obstacles and, in the end, many received a second chance. Camp Hope became a different place, a place that lived up to its name – Hope.

Wednesday, June 7, 2023

Plan for eight overnight closures of the northbound US 101 Hoquiam River/Riverside Bridge this June and July

UPDATE: 9:15 a.m. Friday, July 14, 2023

Please note overnight closures scheduled for July 17-19 have been cancelled due to materials delay. Advance notice will be provided when the closures are rescheduled.

UPDATE: 3:05 p.m. Thursday, June 15, 2023

Please note overnight closures scheduled to begin on Thursday, June 15 have been rescheduled. The first in a series of overnight closures of the Riverside Bridge will begin Tuesday, June 20.

By Angela Cochran

If you’re like us, you’ve been dreaming of warm days, lying on sandy shores and gazing at sparkling blue waters with an ice cold *insert beverage of choice* in hand since – let’s be honest – November. Now that summer is well on its way, you can finally make that dream come true! To make the road trip there as fun as possible, you’ll want to plan for construction along the way.

It’s no secret that travelers all over the state will see roadwork on many state routes and highways this spring and summer. One of the projects that could affect your trip to the beach is starting soon in Hoquiam. The machine rooms on the northbound US 101 Hoquiam River Bridge, known locally as the Riverside Bridge, will get repairs and upgrades.

The Riverside Bridge is on northbound US 101/Riverside Avenue.

Why we have to close the road

While not technically roadwork, we do have to close the bridge to road traffic eight times throughout the project. The good news is that the closures will take place overnight. We also are not allowing any closures on weekends. However, be aware that if you’re traveling during the week, you may see some single-lane closures during daytime that could slow you down.

The project will kick off with a left-lane closure on June 14 as our contractor, Rognlin’s Inc., will remove the railing and roof from the machine room in the west tower.

Later in the project, on July 11, we will close the right lane during the day while crews do the same work on the east machine room.

We know there will be additional single-lane closures but just aren’t sure when yet. We will post the information as soon as we get it on the real-time travel map and our app. Construction schedules are sometimes hard to nail down (pun intended) because they depend on variables like weather and material availability.

If you’re traveling at night, though, you’ll encounter another challenge when the bridge closes to traffic. The good news is we already know those dates so you can plan for the detour.

Work on the bridge will involve several overnight full closures in June and July.

Overnight bridge full closure schedule


  • 9 p.m. Tuesday, June 20 to 5:30 a.m. Wednesday, June 21.
  • 9 p.m. Wednesday, June 21 to 5:30 a.m. Thursday, June 22.
  • 9 p.m. Thursday, June 22 to 5:30 a.m. Friday, June 23.

Detouring around the project

We won’t leave you stranded on the east side of the Hoquiam River during the closures. A signed detour will guide you over the Simpson Avenue Bridge, which normally only allows southbound traffic. A flagger will direct northbound and southbound traffic one direction at a time over the bridge. Please be patient and safe around the flagger and other road workers.

Northbound US 101 travelers will detour via the Simpson Avenue Bridge where a flagger
will keep people moving one direction at a time.

About our machine rooms

Now that the logistics are covered, you may still be wondering what in the world a machine room is. It’s exactly what it sounds like – a room full of machines. These machines operate the equipment that moves the middle of the bridge up and down during a boat opening. There are two machine rooms on the Hoquiam River Bridge, one at the top of each tower. They look like metal boxes from a distance.

The machine rooms are located at the top of the bridge’s towers and contain
the equipment that helps operate the bridge.

Built in 1970, the bridge requires a lot of maintenance to keep it in good working order. Maintaining the machine rooms became challenging in fall 2019 when the roofs started leaking. If you live or regularly travel through Hoquiam, you may have seen some bridge closures due to equipment failure during heavy rains. We’ve made some temporary fixes along the way to keep it operating.

This work will provide a permanent fix. Crews will use a large crane to lift new walls and roofs for the towers. They will also paint the operating room and replace the door. This is a separate space that houses the controls for crews to operate the bridge. Overall, this project will help prevent future closures due to equipment failure and keep our bridge operators and maintenance crews safe.

Keeping our crews and all users of the roadways safe is very important to us, and you can help with that. Please pack your patience along with your sunscreen and beach gear. Slow down and pay attention when passing through work zones. Don’t worry, the beach will still be fun even if it takes a little longer to get there.

Thursday, June 1, 2023

Why there will probably be roadwork during the event you’re going to this summer

By Mike Allende

It’s our most common question during the busy summer construction season: “Why did you have to do this work when (Fill in the blank MAJOR EVENT!!!) was happening??!!!”

Fair question, with a pretty easy, basic answer. There are ALWAYS major events happening in the summer. It’s virtually impossible to find a weekend – heck, even a day – when there isn’t a game, concert, festival or event going on. It’s one of the things that makes our state a great place to live or visit, but it also makes doing road work and getting around challenging.

With 116 projects scheduled this summer – not counting day-to-day maintenance, emergencies and local city and county projects – there is a lot to get done in a short timeframe. You can learn more about what to expect in this blog.

Much of the work that you see happen in the summer can only happen when we have reliably dry weather, as we need those conditions to do extensive work with concrete. That’s a pretty small window in this part of the country in which to try to squeeze a lot of work in. It also happens to coincide when almost every professional sports team is active, when we get a huge influx of concerts and when we have major events and festivals like Seafair, Fourth of July, Bumbershoot and many more. That’s not to mention the hundreds of smaller events scattered throughout the season.

With many major events – highlighted by the Major League Baseball All Star Game at T-Mobile Park in July – roads will be packed with people trying to get around.

Of the 153 days between May 1 and Sept. 30 – what we’ll consider the prime construction season – there are just 23 days with no major events happening, and only one weekend day with nothing going on. Again, these are just major events, not counting the many parades, community festivals and other events that, for their particular area, also bring in plenty of traffic.

This also isn’t taking into account October, when we’re often trying to squeeze in some final work when we can at the same time the Seahawks, Huskies and Cougars are playing football, and the Kraken, Storm, Sounders and hopefully Mariners are also playing.

Here is a look at the special events calendars for our state from June through September to give you an idea of why it’s nearly impossible to avoid events. These are through mid-May, so other concerts and events may be announced as we move through spring and summer.

While we try to avoid special events when we can, realistically, it’s pretty impossible to do so and still finish all of the work that has to get done in this short time frame. There isn’t enough time simply working overnight for large areas of concrete to set and be ready to open by the next day. We all go to the games, shows and events just like everyone else, and we face the same travel challenges. If there were ways to avoid it, we would.

So, knowing that there will absolutely be disruptions to your travel, especially on weekends, what can you do to prepare for it?

  • Know what’s happening. We try to full-court press information, especially for busy weekends, so that people at least know what they have to prepare for. From social media, to updating our website and app, to working with local media to get word out, we have lots of ways for people to know what’s happening. Check out this webpage where you can find info about our app, social media tools and other ways to stay engaged (scroll to the bottom and you can also find a link to sign up for email/text alerts).
  • Familiarize yourself with transit. Whether it’s buses, bicycling, Link Light Rail, the Sounder train, Amtrak Cascades, even organizing carpools, there are lots of alternative ways to get around. One great thing to keep in mind for people going to Climate Pledge Arena in Seattle: Every ticket to an event at the venue is also a transit pass.
  • Consider signing up for a Good To Go! It’s handy if you’ll use the SR 520 bridge or the SR 99 tunnel into/out of Seattle, or I-405 to avoid heavy I-5 traffic, or possibly SR 167 to go to the Puyallup Fair or White River Amphitheater, or of course the Tacoma Narrows Bridge. Having a Good To Go! pass will also save you money and ensure you pay the lowest toll rate on all these roads. You can sign up or get more information on our website.
  • Be prepared. It could be slow-going, so be sure your vehicle has enough gas, is in good working order, you have drinks/snacks, warm clothes/blanket (just in case!) and any other supplies you might need if you get stuck for a long time.
Roadwork will affect most parts of the state this summer, whether it’s getting to
events in Seattle or concerts at the Gorge.

As we’ve said, we know added delays getting to big events or summer trips isn’t fun. We’re working to minimize the effects where we can but thank you for also doing your part in helping keep everyone moving this summer.