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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Spokane

Interstate 90 widening includes addition of sound walls

Noise barrier walls are being constructed near the Barker eastbound access as a part of the I-90 widening project in Spokane Valley. (J. Bart Rayniak)
Noise barrier walls are being constructed near the Barker eastbound access as a part of the I-90 widening project in Spokane Valley. (J. Bart Rayniak)

Anytime the state builds, widens or restores a piece of freeway through the city, it may be obligated to build a noise wall to buffer the sound.

Federal highway rules call for the walls whenever the sound level is expected to exceed 66 decibels in residential areas.

That is a little louder than the volume of normal conversation.

The walls are going up along Interstate 90 in Spokane Valley where a contractor is widening the freeway from four to six lanes between Sullivan and Barker roads in a $15 million project.

“We are required to mitigate the increase in sound,” said Al Gilson, Washington state Department of Transportation spokesman in Spokane. But the rule only applies to residential areas, not rural or commercial land.

Noise walls went up several years ago east of Argonne Road when the state expanded the freeway to six lanes from Argonne to Sullivan.

They also were erected along Sunset Hill years ago.

According to the WSDOT, the walls are typically 12 to 15 feet high and are designed in consultation with an acoustical engineer.

The walls only go up in places where they will actually work to deaden the sound.

The state normally does not retrofit a freeway by adding walls. They are usually built in conjunction with a larger project, such as the widening in Spokane Valley this summer.

Acme Concrete Paving Co. Inc. is the contractor.

West Siders see most I-90 traffic jams

Here’s one more reason to be glad you live in Eastern Washington.

Every weekend during the summer, I-90 becomes a congested mess east of Snoqualmie Pass, but only for drivers trying to get away from the Puget Sound for the weekend or back to the West Side for the workweek. I had heard about this before, but saw it with my own eyes last Sunday about 2 p.m.

I was traveling eastbound, going about 70 mph, when I noticed a mass of westbound traffic backed up below the Easton hill. The line of vehicles was traveling at speeds ranging from 20 to 40 mph, and at one point near Roslyn it was actually stop-and-go.

It was basically a traffic jam more than 12 miles long.

Conversely, on Friday evenings the backups only affect drivers who are eastbound leaving the Puget Sound area.

May to September holiday weekends are also notorious for backups.

Interstate 84 east of Portland has a similar problem, but not as bad.

The state says too many people want to come east on the weekend to enjoy the outdoors and concerts at the Gorge. They recommend that drivers travel at off-peak hours.

Blasting will close portions of I-90

Rock blasting on I-90 near Snoqualmie Pass will cause the freeway to be closed for an hour starting at 7:30 p.m. today through Thursday. Also, westbound traffic in the same vicinity will be reduced to one lane tonight through Friday night from 8 p.m. to 9:30 a.m. Eastbound traffic will be reduced to one lane tonight through Friday night. A contractor is widening the freeway east of Hyak.

CdA’s Northwest Blvd. to see delays

Northwest Boulevard in Coeur d’Alene is undergoing repaving work on Tuesday and Wednesday. The city of Coeur d’Alene and Idaho Transportation Department are teaming up to put a new layer of asphalt from Appleway Avenue to Ironwood Drive. Lane closures should be expected along with possible delays.

Hayden putting new coating on Prairie

In Hayden, the city on Tuesday is putting a new chip coating on Prairie Avenue from U.S. Highway 95 to Fourth Avenue. Work will start at 7 a.m. on the western end of the project and then move east after about three to four hours. The work involves spraying an oil emulsion on the pavement and then covering that with gravel, or chips. Crews will return after a week and put another oil coat known as a fog seal on top of the pavement. The fog seal will lock the chips in place.

Post Street should reopen this week

In Spokane, paving is expected today through Wednesday on Post Street from Maxwell to Buckeye avenues. The street, which has been closed for reconstruction, should reopen later in the week. Construction work will begin today on Bridgeport Avenue from Division to Crestline streets. Bridgeport will be closed for rehabilitation. Also, Upriver Drive will be closed from Rebecca Street to Frederick Avenue starting today for installation of a sewer line.

Traffic cameras going up on Sprague

In Spokane Valley, work begins today on installation of fiber optic cable and traffic cameras along East Sprague Avenue between University and Evergreen roads. The cameras will be added to the existing system of traffic cameras across the region and monitored by the Spokane Regional Traffic Management Center, which has a website that displays the cameras. The $400,000 project is being funded with a federal energy efficiency and conservation block grant.

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