Thursday, August 31, 2023

Déjà vu: Weekend full closure of I-405 between Bellevue and Renton Sept. 9-10

By Victoria Miller

Travelers in Renton and Bellevue should prepare for a full weekend closure of Interstate 405 and extra travel time during the weekend of Sept. 9-10.

From 11:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 8 to 4 a.m. Monday, Sept. 11, all lanes of northbound and southbound I-405 will be closed between Coal Creek Parkway (Exit 10) in Bellevue and State Route 900/Sunset Boulevard Northeast (Exit 5) in Renton. This closure is for I-405, Renton to Bellevue Widening and Express Toll Lanes work that includes shifting all lanes of I-405 onto a new alignment as shown in the image below. This upcoming temporary alignment will be wide enough to accommodate all current lanes of I-405 and will eventually be the future northbound alignment once the project is complete.

Several ramps will also be closed during this weekend closure:

  • Sunset Boulevard Northeast on-ramp to northbound I-405
  • All ramps at North 30th Street to I-405 (North 30th Street over I-405 will remain open)
  • Northeast 44th Street over I-405
  • All ramps at Northeast 44th Street to I-405
  • All ramps at 112th Avenue Southeast/Lake Washington Boulevard Southeast (Exit 9) to I-405 (112th Avenue Southeast/Lake Washington Boulevard Southeast over I-405 will remain open)
  • Coal Creek Parkway Southeast on-ramp to southbound I-405

Signed detours will be in place for this full closure on I-405.

If it feels like this closure has already happened, you’re not wrong. We did this same closure during a weekend in August for fish culvert installation work. We know that big closures like this are inconvenient and have a big effect on regional traffic and on other highways, but we are getting a lot of work done during these closures. With lots of events happening around the region, including the Seahawks home opener against the Los Angeles Rams (go Hawks!), be sure to plan plenty of time to get to your destination on time!

What can I expect?

  • Delays and congestion: Plan for slower travel times on I-405 and longer waits along the detour routes.
  • Reduced speed limits in work zones:Anytime you're in or approaching these construction work zones, please give our crews room, slow down, be patient, and stay alert.
  • Potential noise:Construction work can also make loud noises and cause vibrations.

Stay safe and informed

We also encourage you to use other routes, postpone discretionary trips if possible, ride transit, carpool or use other alternative modes of transportation and/or travel at off-peak times.

This will be the last full weekend closure for the Renton to Bellevue project this summer. There could potentially be lane reductions on southbound I-405 in Bellevue this fall, but the work is dependent on weather conditions. Stay up to date on future construction closures for the project through the resources listed above.

We appreciate all your patience during this busy season as our crews have made significant progress on construction!

Tuesday, August 29, 2023

Getting to know the Wapato Way roundabout - Part I

By Lizzy Buechel

You may think you know the Wapato Way roundabout in Fife, but do you ‘know know’ the Wapato Way roundabout?

With two years of use under its belt, the Wapato Way roundabout connecting State Route 99 to the new Wapato Way East Bridge over Interstate 5 has become a familiar intersection for frequent travelers through Fife. But sometimes people need to know a little more about something to truly understand it. So we’re launching a three-part blog series to re-introduce the Wapato Way roundabout and answer some of the most common questions we hear from the community.

Part I: Don’t stop me now: Why a roundabout instead of a traffic signal?

Part II: It likes big trucks, and it cannot lie: Is a roundabout safe for trucks?

Part III: It spins me right round baby, right round: How do I use a roundabout?

Check back next Tuesday for the latest installment.

Part I: Don’t stop me now: Why a roundabout instead of a traffic signal?

Allow us to re-introduce you to the Wapato Way roundabout:

Did you know that although the Wapato Way roundabout opened in June 2021, the process to make sure it was a good fit for the intersection and community started several years earlier?

It’s true! Before building the Wapato Way roundabout, we listened to the needs of our partners and the community. What we heard was a need for the intersection to safely accommodate all modes of transportation, including not only the large trucks that would use it frequently, but also people who drive personal vehicles, walk and bike through the area. We also heard that people didn’t want to be stopped for long periods of time, that traffic needed to be slower for safety and a need to keep construction costs low.

Our traffic engineers did a thorough study and analysis of different options for the intersection, looking at both traffic signals and roundabouts. The experts analyzed land use and environmental factors like how increasing development may change the area and traffic in the future, and whether building the intersection could harm the natural environment or the community.

We also conducted operational and safety performance evaluations comparing different intersection options. We considered which design would perform best, both today and in the future. Taking all these factors into account, the roundabout option rose to the top, outperforming all traffic signal options in safety, traffic flow, and operational costs.

Speaking of which, did you know that in general, roundabouts are safer, faster, and more cost-effective than other intersection types like a traffic light? How? I’m glad you asked:

Safety benefits

  • Gentle curves in the roads entering roundabouts and one-way travel reduce the possibility for serious collisions like “T-bone” and head-on crashes that can happen at other 3 or 4-way intersections.
  • Studies by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and the Federal Highway Administration have shown that roundabouts typically achieve a 90 percent reduction in fatal collisions, and a 75 percent reduction in collisions causing injuries.

Wait-time benefits

  • Roundabouts can accommodate more traffic than typical intersections, in part by promoting a continuous flow of traffic where drivers don’t need to stop, only yield.
  • The Federal Highway Administration has found that roundabouts can increase traffic capacity by 30 to 50 percent compared to traditional intersections. This helps prevent long traffic backups, especially in areas with lots of large trucks or other oversized vehicles, which tend to take longer to make a hard turn at a four-way stop.

Maintenance and Operations benefits

  • Although the cost to build a roundabout versus a traffic signal is about the same, roundabouts are cheaper in the long run, eliminating thousands of taxpayer dollars in yearly maintenance costs.
  • Roundabouts eliminate the hardware, maintenance, and electrical costs associated with traffic signals, which can add up to a savings of $5,000–$10,000 per year.

These benefits help contribute to growing popularity of roundabouts in road design and traffic maintenance, both in our state and across the nation. In Washington state alone, we have around 500 roundabouts throughout the roadway system.  So to recap - Wapato Way: safe, efficient, AND fiscally responsible. Sounds like the kind of intersection your parent would approve of.

For more tips and tricks on how to safely share the roundabout with large vehicles and trucks, stay tuned for Part II of this series, coming next week! 

And if you’re interested in learning more about the benefits of the Wapato Way roundabout, and why we are installing roundabouts on the SR 167 Completion project, check out this roundabout fact sheet, which explains each factor in more detail.

Friday, August 25, 2023

A record-setting career reaches the finish line

By Scott Klepach

When Indiana Jones said “It’s not the years, it’s the mileage,” Dan Floyd knew just what he meant. But for Dan, it’s both the years and the miles.

That’s because Dan, who is retiring after a record-breaking career with our agency, has been traveling a remarkable road throughout his life and career. His journey has paved the way for many projects, major changes in the region, and many relationships over the years.

When Dan officially retires on Aug. 31, his 56 years with us will mark the longest any employee has served at our agency. Over that time, Dan has responded to more than 100 natural disasters such as avalanches, landslides, floods, and the 1980 Mount St. Helens eruption.

“I’ve even surprised myself with working this long,” he said. “I have enjoyed making a positive contribution in every position I have held and looked at every problem as an opportunity for improvement.”

And in 56 years, he’s held A LOT of positions.

When Dan Floyd finishes his work day on Aug. 31, it will mark the end of a 56-year career with our agency.

A lifetime of service

Dan started his career here as a trainee in our design division in 1968 but after just three months he left on military leave, serving in the U.S. Army for several years in the Vietnam War. In his role as a helicopter medevac pilot, Dan earned the Vietnam Service Medal with four Bronze Service Stars, the Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal with Device, and the Vietnam Gallantry Cross with Silver Star.

Dan returned to work in 1971 as an Engineering Technician 2, when he started designing two major interstates in south central Washington: Interstate 82 from Yakima – traversing more than 95 miles to the Oregon border – and I-182 between Richland and Pasco.

Those major interstate projects propelled Dan’s career forward, as we was promoted five times between 1975 and 1978 as he continued to look for new opportunities.

Over his 56 years at our agency, Dan has held many jobs and been a part of many major events and jobs, well earning more time on the golf course in his retirement.

After he saw the completion of both I-82 and I-182, Dan transitioned to the maintenance and operations side of transportation. In 1986, he became a Transportation Engineer 4 and was in charge of special projects, managing the maintenance and operations budgets, and assuming duties of the Facility Manager in the south central part of our state, based in Yakima. When he was promoted again in 1993, he was instrumental in the location, design and construction of several new maintenance facilities and rest areas throughout the region.

In 1996, Dan’s leadership led to securing critical federal emergency relief funding to repair or replace several roads and bridges damaged by major flooding. In 1998, he was took on the additional duties of regional Emergency Manager, where he helped lead responses to many natural disasters and major road closures.

Dan was promoted to Assistant Maintenance Manager in 2003 and was a pioneer in helping create an innovative salt program, which is now a critical part of our overall snow and ice control effort. In 2013, Dan became the acting Assistant South Central Regional Administrator for Maintenance and Operations and in 2016 became permanent. He currently oversees a budget of $141 million and more than 400 employees, and he maintains over 3,400 lane miles in the region.

Recently, Washington Secretary of Transportation Roger Millar presented Dan with an award commemorating his 56 years of service.

Dan has embraced each position as opportunities to help others and better the transportation system. His dedication is evident in everything he does, and his love for every position is unparalleled in his record of service – not just for the years, but also for the mileage he has given. Dan recently received an award from the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) and a plaque from Washington State Secretary of Transportation Roger Millar for his 56 years of service.


As you can imagine, a lot has changed in Dan’s 56 years. Computers, cell phones, survey equipment and all kinds of other technology has entirely changed the way we do things. Fortunately, Dan is known for always thinking outside of the box to find solutions, and is dedicated to making sure things are done efficiently and on time. He spends extra time to make sure his team has the best information to do their jobs effectively.

“My goal has been to mentor, teach, and learn each and every day with those I work with so that everyone can do their job independently,” he said.

That especially pays off in major emergencies, and he’s experienced plenty of those.

He remembers going to the grocery store and filling up his tub with water as he watched ash from Mount St. Helens reach his home.

“I remember using our snow and ice trucks to plow the ash off our roadways and parking areas,” Dan said. “It was much darker with all the ash in the air obscuring the sun.”

He remembers helping our agency handle the major Nile Valley Slide in 2009 that destroyed a section fo State Route 410 in Yakima County, completely re-routing the Naches River.

“I remember hiring some of the local residents to assist our employees who were stranded on the side of the slide with Chinook Pass being closed,” he said. “There was no way to get resources to the Chinook Pass side since it was seasonally closed.” So what’s next? What does one do when you say goodbye after 56 years? Well, at least for us, we try to figure out how to fill a huge hole. There’s no making up for the knowledge Dan takes with him. But it’s not just that. It’s his presence that will also be missed.

Dan has no shortage of family to spend even more time with in his retirement.

Over the years, Dan has offered what some have dubbed “Dan-isms,” which reveal his sensibility and relationality. Some examples of his “Dan-isms” include: “Where are you going to be in 5 years?”, “There’s always three sides to every story,” and “Go home and sleep on it before you make a decision.”

Dan has done his best to pass on his knowledge and experience to his team and feels good about their ability to keep moving forward.

“I’m confident we have competent employees that take pride and ownership in the work they do,” he said. “I know they’ll continue to provide great service to the public.”

And now, he gets to move on to the next part of his life, which, while we’ll miss him, he’s more than deserved. He’s excited to pursue other interests including spending more time with his family, golfing, boating and working on other projects.

“As I continue my journey, I am looking forward to the new opportunities that will come my way,” he said.

Bon voyage Dan! We can’t thank you enough for your incredible service, and we wish you a fantastic retirement!

Thursday, August 24, 2023

Hold onto your handlebars, we’ll soon charge ahead with e-bike programs

By Brooke Nelson and Barb Chamberlain 

We appreciate your patience while we get ready for a smooth roll-out

We know you are “wheelie excited” for the e-bike incentive programs funded in the 2023-25 transportation budget to roll out, and we are too! The incentives will provide rebates and lending library/ownership programs so it's easier for people to try or buy e-bikes. With their boost up that hill and their help for tired legs hauling kids and groceries, e-bikes can replace car trips for many people. An adaptive e-bike or trike can extend mobility for someone with a disability that makes it difficult or impossible to walk very far. At the same time, they dramatically reduce transportation cost per mile along with emissions and pollutants: a win for your pocketbook, a win for clean air and water. They cost a lot less than a car but more than a traditional bike, and that cost can be a barrier. That's where the rebates come in.

We have a lot of work to do before the rubber meets the road so we don't yet have a start date. We need to make sure the handlebars, pedals, headlights, batteries, and brakes are all working before we head off on this interesting ride.

Programs to make e-bikes available to more and more people are coming season,
increasing transportation options for many.

What will be included in the e-bike incentive programs?

Washington is joining the first few states to approve statewide e-bike encouragement and incentive programs. In our case we have three models: direct individual rebates and two types of lending library/ownership grants:

  • Point-of-sale electric bike rebates: For individual purchasers, with 60% of the vouchers reserved for lower-income households. This program received $5 million in funding, which includes administration and policy research.
  • Lending library/ownership programs: For two types of grant recipients to set up lending libraries that can include a bike ownership component. This program received $2 million in funding, which includes administration and policy research.
    • Grants to other state entities, local governments, and tribes to make e-bikes available for purposes of employee commute trip reduction;
    • Grants to nonprofit organizations or tribal governments that serve persons who are low-income or reside in overburdened communities.

What won't be included?

The program incentivizes purchase of electric bicycles and tricycles, as required in the transportation budget language that established it. We've heard you'd also like to get rebates for purchase of traditional non-e-bikes, but that isn't an option under this program. E-mountain bikes aren't eligible either. It doesn't provide rebates for other forms of micromobility, whether or not they're e-assisted.

Bear in mind that this is a pilot and we'll learn a lot from the early phase. There's a fair amount of research about people's willingness to shift a car trip to an e-bike trip for everyday uses such as commuting and running errands.

How will the rebates work?

We'll set up a process for individuals that enables us to confirm residence and income eligibility and a certification process for e-bike retailers. Because we're still in the research phase we can't give you a lot of specifics about how either of those will work.

The rebate program will provide vouchers with amounts depending on household income: a rebate of up to $1,200 for someone in a low-income household, up to $300 for someone who doesn't meet that income eligibility requirement. Vouchers will be applied as a discount when you buy your bike at qualifying bike shops and can also be used on equipment like helmets and locks at the time of purchase. E-bike retailers will be reimbursed for the value of the vouchers they accept.

Incentive programs and rebates will increase the availability of e-bikes to much
larger segment of the population.

What's the income level for the bigger rebate?

The answer is “it depends”. The budget proviso sets the eligibility at 80% of the median household income for the county you live in. This is the same definition of a low-income household that HUD uses.

This table from the state Department of Commerce (PDF 140KB) lists estimated median income by county. In King County, 2022 median household income is estimated at $118,644 so 80% is $94,915. In Pend Oreille County with a median household income of $52,989, 80% comes to $42,391.

When we have a website up for the program, it will include the information you need to know eligibility for your county.

How many rebates will be available?

Our math is approximate since the vouchers are for up to the amounts in statute. We've calculated this assuming everyone who gets a voucher uses its maximum value and allowing for administrative and research costs. It comes out to around 2,300 vouchers at the $1,200 level (income-based eligibility) and around 6,200 rebates at the $300 level (no income eligibility requirement) for the 2023-25 budget.

Why aren't the rebates already available?

Here's what our team is working on:

  • Defining the nitty gritty of how this program will work. A very partial list of topics we need to have clear answers to:
    • How can we make the application process as easy as possible for you and your favorite bike shops?
    • How do we verify your income and address to know you're eligible, while providing you with essential privacy rights and data protection?
    • How do you know which types of e-bikes are eligible? (Standard e-bike, cargo, family, or adaptive bike or trike, yes. Mountain bike, no—that's in the law.)
    • How do we certify e-bike retailers so we know they have a physical presence in the state and can set up and service your awesome new ride? And how do we process vouchers as quickly as possible so they're paid for the bike that already left the shop?
  • Building in equity. We'll be setting up an application process with a system that needs to work well for everyone, not just for people with easy access to technology. We also know that the number of people who qualify will far exceed the total we can make available, and we need to plan for that.
  • Learning from other programs. Only five states have active incentive programs, three of which are just starting this summer! We're learning from others about what it takes to run a successful incentive program, and how to adapt it to work best for Washingtonians. This report by the Joint Transportation Committee (PDF 1.6MB) outlines some of the research on best practices and we're building on that.
  • Talking with e-bike retailers. We'll be connecting with shops that might accept the rebate vouchers to know what will work best for them so they and the bike buyers are both happy customers of the program.
  • Researching options for administration. Sounds boring and wonky, perhaps, but we want to run this program as efficiently as possible. We're looking into the factors that contribute to the costs of starting up and running it and how we might tap into existing processes for things like verifying income eligibility. We don't want to recreate the wheel—we want to get you onto your wheels.

What about those lending libraries? I want one in my community!

We want to set these up for success too. The funding for these programs isn't available until 2024 so they'll roll out after the rebates. Here's (some of) what we'll be figuring out:

  • Actual program costs for the grantees. It's not just buying e-bikes. It's program staffing, secure storage (at the lending location, and where you're parking them at home), maintenance, insurance, liability waivers and more. Grant amounts need to be set to make this work for everyone.
  • Essential partnerships. Who's going to maintain those bikes? And make sure the person checking them out can ride away with confidence. The most successful programs incorporate bike education with the check-out.
  • Indicators of success. Like the rebate program, the lending library grants will likely have more interested applicants than we can fund. How do we award the funds to meet program goals for equity and environmental justice? How do we and grant recipients define success?
Just like books and CDs, e-bikes will be available to check-out from lending
libraries under the new incentive program.

Don't mark your calendars just yet

In the coming months, we will be working with the University of Washington to define and set up data collection on the effects of this program; their research is one of the requirements in the funding. We'll continue to connect with many people and groups—existing lending library programs, bike shops, state agency partners, potential grant applicants—to make sure we create the best program possible for you and meet all legislative requirements.

The multiple programs will have different launch dates, and we don't have a timeline for you just yet. We'll ring our bike bells loud and clear when we're ready to roll!

How to get ready for the ride

We know you're reading media coverage that's helping generate excitement, like this piece by Washington Bikes and this one by People for Bikes. The best way to know what's happening is to subscribe to our Walk + Roll E-News to receive updates on all our programs, learning opportunities, and grants, or follow the e-bikes feed tag at the bottom of this post to get notified when we put out another article on the topic. If you want to dive into the research of the many benefits of e-bikes and rebate programs, this list of research will get you rolling.

Thanks to all of YOU for your support in making these programs possible. We can't wait to see how e-bikes can reduce car trips, emissions, and your transportation expenses; make our communities more bike and pedestrian friendly; and help you all to have an electric-powered whale of a good time while we do it.

Wednesday, August 23, 2023

Immense gratitude for your help during US 101 work near Gardiner

By Doug Adamson

We asked for the community’s help while we closed a lane of US 101 at Eagle Creek on the Olympic Peninsula, and the community listened. We’re incredibly appreciative of the help, understanding and advance planning travelers took during our work.

We removed a culvert that was a barrier to fish at Eagle Creek. With your help, we were able to install a culvert that has the potential to increase habitat for fish.

We have some more work to do. It mostly involves rebuilding the streambed to benefit all life cycles of fish. While we’ll still need some overnight one-way alternating traffic, major construction that affects travel is complete. Everyone working together helped ease some of the construction disruption. Thank you.

Crews worked around-the-clock to finish culvert construction on US 101 near Gardiner.

Lane closure equaled hours-long backups

Whether you sat in traffic for 90 minutes or three hours, we can all agree that Monday, Aug. 14 – the first day of the one-lane bypass – was brutal. The hours-long delays were awful. We heard from a lot of people about the situation. After seeing backups, we quickly retimed the traffic signal at each end of the bypass road based on travel patterns. While that helped, it’s travelers who get the credit for helping reduce backups in the following days.

And about that 90-minute estimate. …we arrived at that time based on traffic modeling. There are big variables, such as the independent actions of each traveler. There is no way to predict what every person will do. Traffic modeling is based on data and trends we’ve historically seen. A lot of people travel across the Olympic Peninsula on Mondays during the summer. Tuesday and Wednesday traffic volumes are lower, but things start to build again on Thursday as we approach the weekend.

Why do this work in the summer travel season?

If we could do this work in November, we probably would. Fish passage projects restrict dates for when crews can work in the water. The so-called “fish window” is typically mid-July through September. For Eagle Creek, the narrow window was July 16 to Aug. 30. In-stream work windows are intended to minimize impacts to aquatic species.

For most of the year, we aren’t able to do significant work on fish passages.
For Eagle Creek, time was even more limited.

Plus, we need to divert the stream into a pipe during the work. It’s a meandering sleepy stream in the summer. The stream can turn into a torrent during our screaming rains seen between November and March. It’s a real balancing act to keep people moving and excavate both lanes of the road. If we miss our fish window, it can delay the project an entire year. That’s something we want to avoid.

One culvert down, five to go on US 101 between Sequim and Discovery Bay

We have so many fish barrier removal locations on the Olympic Peninsula, we’ve grouped several into bundled projects. This work near Gardiner (Eagle Creek) was one culvert in a project that has six locations. They are located over a 10-mile section of US 101 in both Clallam and Jefferson counties.

So are we going to close one lane of US 101 five more times? No. This was the only location. The rest of the work will have two-lane bypass roads as crews build new bridges over each creek.

Before work starts, crews capture fish so they can be relocated prior to construction.
This was among those moved at Eagle Creek.

Each culvert location is different. This includes right-of-way limitations, topography to nearby infrastructure and riparian habitat. There are many items considered when determining if a one-lane or two-lane bypass road will be used around the work zone. Another consideration is a signed detour.

Eagle Creek was a tough location because of a nearby secondary culvert that is not known to have fish. The secondary culvert would have been impacted by construction. The tough decision was made to keep the bypass at one-lane, which meant crews used the accelerated ‘get in, get out’ approach.

Eagle Creek had been confined to this small pipe that ran under US 101. The new culvert (right)
will allow fish passage beyond the highway.

Our contractor worked around-the-clock to remove the old culvert (some call it a pipe) and install a 20-foot-wide x 70-foot-long x 7-foot-high pre-cast concrete box culvert. This helped us build the improvements as quickly as possible. It was hard work, and we know it took a lot of cooperation with the community to get this done.

The remaining culvert locations require construction of new bridges. We’ll keep people moving on two-lane bypass roads for the remainder of this project. Drivers will see reduced speed limits and some nighttime one-way alternating traffic.

The locations of six culverts in the US 101 Jefferson-Clallam Fish Barrier Removal project

The next culvert location we will start work on this fall is location No. 2 on the above map. The remaining culverts will have work starting in 2024.

No surprises approach

Our goal is a heavy lift – no surprises. That meant coordinating with emergency services, Jamestown S'Klallam Tribe, and Clallam County. We got coverage in local and regional media. We created blogs, used every social media platform that our agency uses, and reached out to a lot of community partners. Our ferries division had displays on their video signs at the Port Townsend Ferry Terminal. We also sent thousands of mailers to homes and businesses in the areas near the work zone.

All this doesn’t really matter if you were surprised. Going forward, we hope you’ll consider signing up for our email alerts. It’s for major roadwork in Clallam and Jefferson Counties. Considering how many emails we get each day, please know we send our alerts only when necessary. Others tools include our app, and Travel Center Map. Want to know about other construction projects? We have it broken down by county.

These travel tools are intended to help you plan ahead and make the best decisions for you and your circumstances.

We'll keep you updated on the specific dates via our email updates and project web page.

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.

Friday, August 11, 2023

Stay out of traffic on I-405 during the weekend of Aug. 19-20: Know before you go!

By Victoria Miller

If your travels take you between Renton and Bellevue, heads up!

During the weekend of Aug. 19-20, Interstate 405 will have a FULL WEEKEND CLOSURE to replace a culvert that runs under the highway. Prepare for delays, use alternate routes, or consider delaying your trip if possible.

Give me the details!

From 10 p.m. Friday, Aug. 18 until 5 a.m. Monday, Aug. 21, both directions of I-405 will be fully closed between Sunset Boulevard in Renton (Exit 5) and Coal Creek Parkway in Bellevue (Exit 10). This closure is for I-405, Renton to Bellevue Widening and Express Toll Lanes work that includes building a box culvert to replace a fish barrier, making it easier for fish to swim and improve the fish habitat upstream. Signed detours will be in place for this full closure on I-405.

Several ramps will also be closed during this weekend closure:

  • Sunset Boulevard Northeast on-ramp to northbound I-405
  • All ramps at North 30th Street to I-405
  • All ramps at Northeast 44th Street to I-405
  • All ramps at 112th Avenue Southeast/Lake Washington Boulevard Southeast (Exit 9) to I-405
  • Coal Creek Parkway Southeast on-ramp to southbound I-405

Whether driving on northbound or southbound I-405, you will need to take a different route during these full lane and ramp closures.

Northbound drivers will exit at State Route 900/Sunset Boulevard Northeast in Renton and rejoin I-405 at Coal Creek Parkway in Bellevue. Another option is to follow additional detour signs to rejoin northbound I-405 at Southeast Eighth Street near downtown Bellevue.

Southbound drivers will exit at Coal Creek Parkway and get back on I-405 at North Southport Drive in Renton. They can also exit at Southeast Eighth Street or Lake Washington Boulevard Southeast (Exit 9) and follow additional signs to detour to North Southport Drive.

During this full weekend closure, travelers should expect:

  • Delays and congestion: Plan for slower travel times on I-405 and longer waits along the detour routes.
  • Reduced speed limits in work zones: Anytime you’re in or approaching these construction work zones, please give our crews room, slow down, be patient, and stay alert.
  • Potential noise: Construction work can also make loud noises ad cause vibrations.

Why is this happening?

As we have talked about earlier this year, summer 2023 is a busy season for construction projects across our state. This closure is happening now because we need warm, dry weather for some of the tasks and state laws related to fish passages determine the timeframe for when those tasks can be done.

Stay informed!

The best way to stay up to date is to follow us @WSDOT_Traffic on Twitter and check our real-time Traffic Map to see how things look. Travelers can also sign up for our I-405/Renton to Bellevue project interest list by emailing us at, subscribe to the weekly Eastside of Lake Washington Transportation newsletter, and download the WSDOT app.

Travelers with questions about this closure and the project can call the 24-hour I-405/Renton to Bellevue construction hotline at 425-818-0161, or email us at

Thursday, August 10, 2023

Gone fishin' at Hylebos Creek

By Kris Olsen

Has your 'out of office' message ever read, "Gone fishin'"? Last month, some of our crew members were lucky enough to leave the office to do just that.

Although people may think that we mostly build and maintain roads, a large portion of our work involves streams and wetlands, especially in the lush Pacific Northwest. Often, those roads, streams and wetlands intersect.

Hylebos Creek crossing under I-5 in Fife

The SR 167 Completion Project in Pierce County is located in an area where roads, streams and wetlands collide. Interstate 5 crosses over Hylebos Creek at the Fife curve, with tributaries and wetlands on either side of the freeway. But we're making changes so the freeway, creek and wetlands can co-exist in harmony. The completion project extends State Route 167 from Puyallup west to SR 509 near the Port of Tacoma. But a huge portion of our work includes a unique and ambitious wetland and stream restoration project, revitalizing almost 150 acres of land on either side of I-5 near the Fife curve.

In mid-July, we marked a major milestone in this restoration effort when we removed fish from Hylebos Creek so that we can rebuild and realign a 2,200-foot section of it by mid-September. That's why some of our crews have literally "gone fishin'" recently.

Big changes are coming to Hylebos Creek in Fife

Before we can work in a stream, we need to make sure that all the fish in it are carefully removed from the stream's work zone and located to another area of the creek where they won't be affected. This is known as "de-fishing."

Because fish and their survival are so important to the ecosystem (including our orcas!), we're only allowed to step foot or put equipment into a stream during a designated "fish window." That fish window is often mid-summer to early fall, depending on the stream, when the fewest number of fish are generally present.

To catch a fish

No fishing rods, hooks or bait here, but the crews get wet! They set up and secure fine-meshed netting where they intend to start fishing. Then they'll walk down stream with another net, dragging it in the water. The idea is not to catch fish but encourage them to naturally swim downstream. Basically, we're "shooing" them out of the area. It's less stressful for the fish if they can swim away on their own. The crews will then secure another fine-meshed net in the stream to block off the area they just waded through.

Crews install fine mesh nets to help exclude or capture fish in Hylebos Creek

Now any fish stragglers are trapped between the two secured nets. Next, the team can take a third net and walk up and downstream, scooping the water to catch the fish. These are called "seining passes." These passes are then followed by "electro-fishing."

Electro-fishing simply generates a very small electrical charge in the water, temporarily stunning the fish so they can be gently scooped up in nets by trained fish handlers. We use the lowest voltage possible to ensure the effect is just brief enough to flush fish out, although the netters still need quick reflexes. They'll keep moving downstream, repeating this entire process until all the fish are caught and relocated.

In this section of Hylebos Creek, removing the fish came with extra challenges for the team because the creek bed was full of big rocks that were easy to trip over and muck which made it hard to stay upright when one step could result in sinking to their waists.

Crews de-fish Hylebos Creek using electro-fishing

While fishing, our crews are especially watching for high-value fish, such as Chinook salmon, which are listed under the Endangered Species Act, and coho. Those fish are put in a water-filled bucket equipped with a bubbler to aerate the water. Others, such as sculpin and lamprey eels, are placed in a separate bucket. All fish caught are counted, documented and then quickly taken up or downstream, based on their age, and released.

A juvenile Chinook salmon caught and relocated during de-fishing

After several days of removing fish from Hylebos Creek between SR 99 and 8th Street East, the creek was diverted into a temporary channel, the remaining water in the creek drawn down, and then the big equipment moved into place.

Restoring Hylebos Creek

Our restoration program for Hylebos Creek involves excavating, realigning and rebuilding the stream so that it meanders like natural streams should. We'll place logs to slow the creek in areas and create small pools of calm water where fish can hang out, grow, and gather strength. We'll also remove invasive shrubs and trees and replace them with native bushes and trees. These will provide shade to help keep the stream cool, which is better for fish. Although we're only restoring the section between I-5 and 8th Street East this year, future work includes realigning the stream northwest of I-5 and north toward Porter Way.

Why it's necessary

The SR 167 Completion project builds a new connection between Puyallup and I-5 and then from I-5 to SR 509. Decades ago, much of the land on the east and west sides of I-5 was converted from wetlands to industrial and agricultural use. Hylebos Creek and its tributaries were diverted into what is essentially an irrigation ditch that crosses under I-5. As it flowed toward Commencement Bay, it was directed into culverts under surface streets. But over the years, the drawbacks of these changes became more apparent.

Hylebos Creek in an irrigation ditch

Flooding, fewer fish, more pollution

During heavy rains, there was flooding on I-5 because the wetlands that once served as a big storage basin for extra water no longer existed. The culverts weren't big enough to handle all the extra water, either. Unfortunately, straightening out Hylebos Creek into irrigation ditches with no shade didn't create a healthy habitat where fish could flourish. In addition, portions of Hylebos Creek are so close to I-5 that it receives some of the highway runoff.

A wetland and stream rebirth

Hylebos Creek is perhaps the centerpiece of our wetland and stream restoration program, but there will be significant other changes that will restore the 150 acres on either side of I-5 to its former glory.

The rebirth of this area includes getting rid of the invasive reed canary grass, which makes up a lot of what you see on the east side of I-5. The straight-line irrigation ditches will disappear, and new more natural channels will be created for Hylebos Creek as it flows downstream from the north and northeast. It'll be located farther away from the freeway until it crosses under two new bridges. We'll add new channels south of the Interurban Trail (which stays where it is) for the Surprise Lake Tributary. We're going to plant 400,000 native shrubs and trees, add logs and native marsh grasses to create nurseries for juvenile fish and other aquatic species. There will be tree snags serving as perches for birds and berms where turtles can bask in the summer sun. And we'll create natural barriers to keep the wildlife away from I-5.

The areas in green show the wetlands and streams near I-5 and SR 167 that will be restored. For context, the area is larger than 110 football fields.

It's not just animals that will benefit. On the west side, near the reinvigorated Hylebos Creek, there will be a shared-use path that will connect with the Interurban Trail to the east, completing the Tacoma to Puyallup Trail connection.

In the end, the entire area will look and feel very different providing new opportunities for everyone, animals and people alike, to thrive.

Puget Sound Gateway Program

The SR 167 Completion project and this wetland and stream restoration work is part of the Puget Sound Gateway Program, which completes critical missing links in the state's highway and freight network.