A major repaving project set to start today on Interstate 90 in east Spokane County is one of 43 state highway projects threatened by the cash flow crisis in the federal highway trust fund.
The work involves resurfacing Interstate 90 from Barker Road to the Idaho state line.
Last week, the federal Department of Transportation notified states that the federal highway trust fund cash balance is approaching insolvency, and that the flow of money will have to be reduced to states starting in early August.
It is not clear yet whether the I-90 job east of Barker Road will be affected by the reduction in funding, said Lars Erickson, communications director for the Washington state Department of Transportation.
The job should take about seven weeks to complete, WSDOT officials said.
Inland Asphalt Construction, of Spokane, won a $3.4 million contract for the job.
The flow of funding into the federal highway trust fund has not kept pace with needs for highway and mass transit projects.
The federal gasoline tax of 18.4 cents a gallon and the diesel tax of 24.4 cents a gallon take in $35 billion a year. At the same time, spending on projects is currently budgeted at $53 billion a year.
In the past, Congress has transferred general tax funds to make up the shortfall. But in recent years, Congress has fallen into a partisan gridlock and is not making the funding transfer.
That leaves the I-90 repaving east of Barker Road in limbo.
Erickson said it is not clear whether the project can be completed once the federal government implements its cash-flow restrictions. State transportation managers last week were assessing the impact of the funding reduction and how the state will respond to it, he said.
The 43 Washington state projects that could be affected are worth $29 million. Other projects on the list in Eastern Washington involve rebuilding railroad crossings, including one on state Highway 902 near Medical Lake.
“We have attempted to provide states with the most equitable, straightforward approach possible for managing this crisis,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in a letter to the states.
I-90 repaving will slow traffic
For motorists, the work on I-90 from Barker Road to the Idaho state line will create a need for slowing down and being careful, said Al Gilson, WSDOT spokesman in Spokane.
The job will involve grinding down the existing pavement prior to repaving.
Work will be done from 7 p.m. to 6 a.m. each workday.
In ground-out segments, a construction speed limit of 60 mph will be posted. Speed zones will change as the project moves along, Gilson said.
There will also be lane restrictions during the work. Drivers should approach the area with caution. “It’s a busy stretch no matter what time of day,” Gilson said.
U.S. Highway 2 work starts today
A second major repaving project is set to start today on U.S. Highway 2 in north Spokane County.
Spokane Rock Products has won a $1.6 million project to resurface the highway starting at Chattaroy Hills where the highway goes from four to two lanes. The resurfacing will involve the two-lane segment to the Pend Oreille County line.
Work will be done from 7 p.m. to 6 a.m. and possibly as late as 8 a.m. on Saturdays.
Single-lane traffic will be directed through the work zones with flaggers and pilot cars handling the duty.
I-90 ramps closing west of Spokane
Also on I-90 southwest of Spokane, the repaving project from Salnave Road to the Lincoln County line will result in ramp closures at the Tyler and Salnave interchanges from 5 a.m. to 6 p.m. today to allow for repaving.
Work elsewhere on the project continues during off-peak hours from 5 p.m. to 6 a.m.
Other highway projects underway
Elsewhere on state highways, pavement patching continues on Trent Avenue from Hamilton to Sullivan Road; culvert repair is planned on Highway 902 between Welcome and Craig roads; and pavement samples are being drilled on U.S. Highway 195 from Cheney-Spokane to Hatch roads.
Grand, Francis among city work
On Spokane city streets, repaving work continues on Grand Boulevard and adjacent streets from Eighth Avenue southward to 14th Avenue in the first phase of the project. A second phase will continue pavement repairs to 22nd Avenue.
Eastbound lanes of Mission Avenue from Hamilton to Perry streets remain closed for reconstruction.
Work on Francis Avenue from Division Street to Crestline Avenue continues with traffic running on one lane in each direction on the completed north half of the project.
Valley work brings closures, restrictions
In Spokane Valley, repaving along Sprague Avenue and adjoining streets and freeway ramps will result in closures and lane restrictions this week.
The westbound Sprague on-ramp will be closed from 9 p.m. Wednesday to 6 a.m. Thursday.
The westbound Fancher Road on-ramp and off-ramp at Exit 285 will be closed Thursday at 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. Friday.
Sprague will be closed to all through traffic from Thierman Road to Fancher from 9 p.m. Wednesday to 6 a.m. Thursday with detours marked.
The closures will move to Sprague from Havana Street to Fancher on Thursday at 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. Friday.
Elsewhere in Spokane Valley, Barker Road will be down to one lane on Tuesday and Wednesday from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. for repair work. Flaggers and a pilot car will direct traffic.