Some of the concrete panels that make up the road surface of U.S. Highway 195 to Pullman will be fixed this spring.
Northbound traffic is being restricted through early May under a $2.5 million economic stimulus project that involves anchoring pavement with steel bars.
It is the latest in a series of projects to extend the life span of a stretch of pavement that dates back to the mid-1960s.
Contractor Acme Concrete Paving Inc., of Spokane, will have as many as 15 workers on the job into May, and a subcontractor for new intersection lighting will have another half-dozen workers into June.
The job is among a series of pavement repairs in the region funded through President Barack Obama’s 2009 federal economic stimulus bill.
The work involves the northbound lanes between Interstate 90 and Hatch Road, and follows similar repair work on other stretches of the highway in recent years.
Work on the southbound lanes is going to have to wait until more money becomes available, officials said.
Over the years, the weight and vibration from traffic has caused concrete panels to shift and settle, creating height differences between the panels. The outside lane is the roughest, with vertical differences between panels of up to three-quarters of an inch.
That makes for a bumpy ride, especially for semitrucks and other large vehicles.
Today’s construction uses steel reinforcing bars to eliminate the problem.
Workers last week were cutting slots in the panels so that steel dowel bars can be sealed into the pavement to join the panels together. The bars will allow weight to transfer across the panel joints and extend the concrete life for 15 to 20 years.
“The panels will move together as you drive over them. It gives you a better ride,” said Jody Qualley, project manager for the state Department of Transportation.
Only the outside lane will get the steel bars. The inside passing lane is not as badly worn.
Once the steel bars are sealed into the concrete, the workers will grind down the surface of both lanes to realign the edges of the panels and to eliminate ruts that have developed from studded tires.
Sections of concrete that have been broken and badly damaged over the years are going to be replaced with new pavement, and the shoulders will also get a new seal coating.
Northbound lanes of the highway south of Hatch Road underwent a similar repair in 2007.
New turn lights
Six Spokane Valley intersections have new traffic signals for left-hand turns that engineers believe are easier to read.
The lights will give a green left-turn arrow during the portion of the light sequence when oncoming traffic will remain stopped. When oncoming traffic gets a green light, the arrows will turn to a flashing yellow, indicating that drivers making left turns must yield to oncoming traffic.
The lights have been installed at Appleway Avenue and Farr Road; Appleway and Barker Road; Broadway Avenue and Evergreen Road; Broadway at Walmart’s Valley store entrance; Pines Road and Mansfield Avenue; and Sprague Avenue and Conklin Road.
Road work ahead
•Ann Deasy at Spokane City Hall reports that closure and reconstruction of Lincoln Street from 17th to 29th avenues is scheduled to begin next Monday and continue through mid-July under a multiyear street bond issue. The job also includes a storm water containment project involving Cannon Hill Park. During the closure, motorists should detour on 14th Avenue to either Bernard or Cedar streets.
•Lane closures will be in effect on Wellesley Avenue from Driscoll Boulevard to Assembly Street for the coming month for work on water lines.
•Eastbound lanes of Trent Avenue at the Spokane River Bridge just east of Pines Road will be reduced to one lane during work hours today through Thursday for bridge joint repairs.