June 2, 2014 in City, Region

Blasting east of pass will close interstate

Hourlong closures planned this week
By The Spokesman-Review
 

The sixth year of construction to widen Interstate 90 east of Snoqualmie Pass promises to bring more delays for drivers during this construction season.

Hourlong closures for rock blasting have resumed along Keechelus Lake, where the freeway is being widened from four to six lanes over a 5-mile stretch.

The mountain cliffs alongside the freeway are being reduced in size to make room for the wider freeway and to reduce the risk of slides.

The closures this week will be at 7:30 p.m. today through Thursday.

Traffic will also be subject to what transportation officials call “rolling slowdowns” during the day and single-lane closures during nighttime hours.

In addition to rock blasting, the contractor on the project in April removed the historic 1950 snow shed that protected the westbound lanes from avalanche.

A new bridge structure will replace the snow shed. It will allow any snow slides to pass safely beneath the pavement.

The $551 million project began in 2009.

In addition to the widening, the project is reducing sharp curves, replacing bridges and culverts, and stabilizing rock slopes. Areas for putting chains on vehicles will be expanded. Wildlife crossings are being added to reduce the risk of accidents involving animals.

The first 3 miles of the project were finished last summer. Full completion is expected in 2018.

A gas tax increase approved in 2005 is being used to finance the job.

Work east of the pass also includes pavement repairs on the older section of freeway near Hyak and illumination upgrades west of Thorp.

Anyone headed over the pass should check with the Washington state Department of Transportation on possible construction delays. On the Web, go to wsdot.com/projects/I90 and find the link to the Snoqualmie Pass projects.

Bike Swap raised $30,000 for trail

Spokane’s third annual Bike Swap in April drew more than 3,000 attendees and raised $30,000 for Centennial Trail projects.

A total of 549 bicycles were sold at the swap, up from 450 in 2013 and 169 in 2012.

In addition, 173 free bike helmets were given to children 14 and younger who obtained bikes through the event, said LeAnn Yamamoto, swap director.

The money will be used as a local match for grant-funded expansions of the trail, said Loreen McFaul, director of the Friends of Centennial Trail. The Bike Swap money was deposited into a trail builder fund.

The Friends group previously had committed $20,000 to a 1.7-mile extension of the trail from Sontag Park to Nine Mile Falls recreation area and $18,500 for improvements to the Mission Avenue crossing between Upriver Drive and Mission Park, McFaul said.

“It’s a great gift for us,” she said.

Work is underway on an extension of the trail northwest of Kendall Yards in the vicinity of Bridge Avenue and Summit Boulevard. That extension is using the former Great Northern Railway road bed below Summit Boulevard. The job will extend the trail to Boone Avenue.

Other priorities for the trail are developing a plan for completing a gap in the trail at Argonne Road; evaluating and planning new directional and safety signs; updating printed and online maps with new trail segments; finalizing a plan to link the trail from Boone Avenue to Spokane Falls Community College; and creating a “miracle mile” medallion list on the Friends’ website.

Another priority is coordinating crack seal repairs with a newly purchased sealing machine. The trail builder fund bought and donated the machine to Riverside State Park, which provides trail maintenance.

Also on the priority list is launching a trail maintenance fund.

Teen drivers, traffic fatalities

An analysis of traffic fatalities from 2009 through 2011 in Washington state showed that alcohol, drugs and speeding are leading contributors in fatal accidents involving young drivers.

There were 171 deaths involving drivers 18 to 20 years old in that time. Of the deaths, 54 percent involved impairment, 54 percent involved speeding and 35 percent involved both factors.

Of the 60 deaths involving drivers 16 and 17 years old, 35 percent involved impairment, 52 percent involved speeding and 25 percent involved both, according to AAA.

In the group aged 16 and 17, female drivers in fatal accidents were more than twice as likely as the boys to have been driving distracted, which includes illegal use of a cellphone. However, the number of boys involved in traffic deaths outnumbered girls three to one.

Teen crash rates increase with the number of teen passengers in the vehicle. AAA recommends that parents limit the number of children allowed in a vehicle with a young driver.

Street projects ongoing in Spokane

In the city of Spokane, installation of a new traffic light at Cedar Road and Country Homes Boulevard starts June 9. The project cost is $433,000.

• Eastbound lanes of Mission Avenue remain closed from Hamilton to Perry streets for reconstruction there.

• Reconstruction of Francis Avenue from Division Street to Crestline Avenue continues.

• Repaving is planned for Cedar Road between Country Homes and Strong Road.

• A North Spokane Corridor project on Francis Avenue from Market to Freya streets continues. Drivers are asked to avoid the area if possible because of traffic congestion.

Spokane Valley closings, restrictions

In Spokane Valley, Adams Road from Fourth to Sprague avenues remains closed to all but local traffic for repaving.

• Argonne Road from Broadway to Sprague avenues is reduced to one lane through early July for repaving.

• Sprague from University to Herald roads has lane restrictions for repaving and other street work. Also, westbound lanes from Thierman Road to I-90 are reduced to two lanes.

• Woodruff Road from Montgomery to Knox streets will be closed to all but local traffic from 7 p.m. to 6 a.m. today through Wednesday morning for maintenance work.

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