The familiar snow shed on Interstate 90 just east of Snoqualmie Pass is going to be consigned to history.
The Washington State Department of Transportation is considering a proposal to build snow bridges instead.
Work to widen I-90 to six lanes had included plans to replace the existing snow shed with a larger one to cover both eastbound and westbound lanes.
Guy F. Atkinson Construction, of Renton, Wash., the contractor on the next stage of freeway widening, recommended eliminating the snow shed from the plan and replacing it with snow bridges.
The cost of the different structures is about the same at $71 million each.
But the snow sheds would cost $650,000 more each year to maintain.
The snow bridges would be placed farther away from the dangerous cliffs that are prone to snow slides. That will allow avalanches to pass beneath the freeway lanes.
A snow storage area beneath the bridges would involve a series of chutes to direct snow away from bridge piers.
The freeway is being widened for five miles along Keechelus Lake at a cost of $551 million. Work is now in its fourth year. The project includes wildlife passages beneath the freeway, new chain-up areas, rock stabilization and easier curves.
WSDOT officials have written a draft environmental impact statement for the proposed switch to snow bridges. The draft must be approved before the bridges can be built.
A series of public meetings were held last week in Bellevue and two communities near the pass to solicit comment.
In Spokane, members of the public can comment online through Nov. 19 at wsdot.wa.gov/Projects/I90/SnoqualmiePassEast/draftSEIS.
Crews will be cleaning drains on I-90 from Division Street to Argonne Road this week. That will result in inside lane closures from about 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. through Friday.
To the west, work on I-90 from Maple Street to the top of Sunset Hill is nearly complete. Crews have finished with pavement grinding in the two-year project, but they still have to install new pavement stripes.
The speed limit through the construction zone will be 50 mph when work there is under way.
Utility work on U.S. 195
Cheney-Spokane Road at U.S. Highway 195 and the southbound off-ramp there will likely see lane restrictions this week as the result of utility work.
Trent bridge repairs
The Spokane River bridge on Trent Avenue just east of Pines Road will be undergoing repair work through Thursday from 8 a.m. until about 2 p.m.
The work will likely cause lane restrictions and slowdowns.
Francis Avenue just east of Market Street will see traffic restrictions as crews get ready to move Francis to a grade crossing immediately north of the bridge.
Once the grade crossing is in place, crews will tear out the existing bridge as part of a job to build a larger and longer bridge to allow both rail and new North Spokane Corridor lanes to pass beneath it.
U.S. 395 detour
The U.S. Highway 395 bridge over the Columbia River at Kettle Falls will undergo night closures from 7 p.m. until 5 a.m. starting tonight and continuing on Wednesday and Thursday.
Traffic can use a detour on Northport-Flat Creek Road and state Highway 25.
Crews are working to replace the broken bridge deck.
Comment on rail plan
WSDOT is developing a new statewide rail plan, and they are asking for public input. The plan will detail strategies for the next five years as well as the next 20 years.
A public meeting will begin at 9 a.m. Tuesday at WSDOT’s Eastern Region office, 2714 N. Mayfair St., with a formal workshop beginning at 10 a.m.
Members of the public who want to attend are asked to RSVP by phone at (360) 705-7900 or by email at email@example.com so organizers can make sure they have enough information material available for everyone who attends.
For more information, go to wsdot.wa.gov/Rail/staterailplan.htm.