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Construction again slowing traffic over Cascades on I-90

In this Monday, Jan. 9, 2017 photo, John Stimberis eyes the avalanche zones on Granite Mountain in Wash., as an indicator for daily conditions. Stimberis is an avalanche forecasting and control supervisor for the Washington State Department of Transportation at Snoqualmie Pass. (Bettina Hansen / Bettina Hansen/Seattle Times)
In this Monday, Jan. 9, 2017 photo, John Stimberis eyes the avalanche zones on Granite Mountain in Wash., as an indicator for daily conditions. Stimberis is an avalanche forecasting and control supervisor for the Washington State Department of Transportation at Snoqualmie Pass. (Bettina Hansen / Bettina Hansen/Seattle Times)

Making a quick trip over the Cascades to the West Side may not be possible this year.

More slowdowns and backups are ahead.

Construction has resumed on a $1 billion widening of Interstate 90 on the east side of Snoqualmie Pass.

This is the ninth consecutive year that the freeway through the mountains has been under construction.

New avalanche bridges are replacing the outdated “snow shed” as part of the widening from four to six lanes.

Rolling slowdowns and delays will start on Monday, said Meagan Lott, spokeswoman for the state Department of Transportation.

Weekend traffic will likely be the slowest, especially in the eastbound lanes on Friday and Saturday and the westbound lanes on Sunday.

There is a well-established pattern of Western Washingtonians escaping the coast for the weekend to the wide-open spaces east of the pass and then returning Sunday afternoon.

“On weekends, we see quite a bit of delay,” said Lott, who recommends allowing an additional hour of travel time.

With the congestion comes an increase in the number of traffic accidents, and that has the effect of bringing a congested freeway to a stop.

“We tell people they need to pay attention and slow down,” Lott said.

Work to widen the 15-mile stretch between Hyak and the Stampede Pass interchange began in 2009.

The first phase from Hyak to Keechelus Dam will be finished in 2018.

This season, work is underway on the second of the two avalanche bridges. The design allows snow slides to drop under the bridge lanes and fall harmlessly into Keechelus Lake.

The eastbound avalanche bridge was finished last summer. The westbound bridge underwent construction last season. Work resumes on Monday.

As a result, westbound traffic is being detoured onto the eastbound bridge.

Evening closures for rock blasting will be less numerous this season. Occasional closures will occur as workers build avalanche chutes beneath the avalanche bridges, Lott said.

The state has also started work on the segment from Keechelus Dam to the Stampede Pass interchange.

Savings of $108 million from the first phase will pay for the second phase.

The second phase includes a wildlife underpass. Completion is expected in 2019.

Lawmakers in 2015 approved $426 million for the remaining 8 miles to Easton from the Connecting Washington transportation and gas-tax package.

That work will run through 2029.

The project on the east side of the pass is not the only one that will slow drivers.

Old concrete panels are being repaired or replaced in the westbound lanes from Elk Heights to Cle Elum. The Indian John Rest Area will undergo periodic closures from late May through summer.

The job is part of a multiyear effort to preserve the old pavement.

A similar project is underway on the west side of the pass.

The state is replacing concrete panels in the eastbound lanes. In addition, bridge decks are being repaired between the summit and North Bend in the westbound lanes. The work will cause detours and lane restrictions.

For more information, go to wsdot.wa.gov.

Division Street gateway project begins Monday

The Division Street gateway project to improve the look of the city’s main entrance off I-90 starts on Monday.

Division and Browne streets from First to Third avenues will have lane closures on the east side of both streets.

The project involves landscaping, sidewalks, curbs, electrical conduit, stormwater facilities and asphalt patching.

The cost is $3.5 million.

Elsewhere in the city of Spokane, the intersection of 37th Avenue and Ray Street has reopened.

The unfinished reconstruction on Monroe and Lincoln streets from Main to Second avenues is set for final paving in midsummer.

Before then, Avista crews will be working on the east side of Lincoln on utilities from Second to Sprague avenues.

Pettet Drive will be closed through Friday as part of a new wastewater retention tank.

The wastewater tank project on Spokane Falls Boulevard near Lincoln is going to force a lane closure Wednesday on Spokane Falls to install a safety barrier.

Traffic is being detoured from Spokane Falls onto Lincoln to Riverside Avenue.

In the neighborhoods, a new pedestrian crossing with curb extensions and storm drainage improvements is going into Garland Avenue at Stevens Street.

Northwest Boulevard near Knox Avenue is getting a new median island, pedestrian crossing, landscaping and irrigation.

Spokane Valley roadwork

In Spokane Valley, Buckeye Avenue between McMillan Road and the city limits is closed to all but local traffic for sewer and roadwork.

Pierce Road south of 32nd Avenue has flaggers on the job to direct traffic through the gas line work.

The intersection of Greenacres Road and Sinto Avenue has local access only for a pole replacement.

Temporary bridge at Ferry County washout

U.S. Highway 395 remains closed by water flowing over the roadway just north of Colville. Work is underway on dry parts of the highway to repaint the centerline and install rumble strips.

To the north on U.S. 395, a washout along Matsen Creek has closed the highway and forced a detour for passenger vehicles only.

The state announced it is installing a temporary “Bailey bridge” at a washout in Ferry County that closed state Highway 21 at the North Fork of the Sanpoil River. Traffic will cross on one lane. Oversized loads will be restricted.

On I-90, the segment from the Fishtrap exit to Sprague Lake is undergoing work to repair damaged pavement. Motorists are asked to use caution in the area.

A centerline is being repainted on state Highway 291 from Nine Mile to Suncrest.

New freeway bridges for the North Spokane Corridor are under construction at the Freya interchange. Also, work has started on curbs and sidewalks along city streets next to the north Spokane freeway route between the Spokane River and Francis Avenue.

Medical Lake is getting new sidewalks and crosswalk improvements on state Highway 902.

Cheney is seeing similar work on state Highway 904.

Spokane County last week said it has reopened Burnett Road from Four Mound to Dover roads and Toll Road from Cameron to Stringham roads.


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