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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Expect summer travel delays from two Whitman County construction projects

Road crews are working on highways linking southwest Washington with Spokane. Motorists should expect some delays.  (Courtesy/WSDOT)

Travelers driving between Southeast Washington and Spokane should expect delays this summer, regardless of the route they take.

Concrete panels on a 10-mile stretch of Highway US 195 are being replaced after last year’s extreme heat caused them to expand and crack, said Ryan Overton, communications manager for the Washington State Department of Transportation’s eastern region.

Construction will take place in one lane at a time, between milepost 52 and milepost 62, leaving the other lane open to alternating one-way traffic. Overton said travelers should expect delays around the clock on days work crews are repairing the road, because it can take up to 24 hours for the concrete to properly set.

Overton said lane restrictions will be in place Monday through Friday, with exceptions for high-traffic days and holidays like the Fourth of July.

The alternating one-way traffic is metered by two electronic stoplights, one for southbound traffic and one for northbound traffic, that are monitored remotely. Overton said the stoplights have a built-in limit, so delays will not be longer than 20 minutes at most.

In addition to replacing the panels, construction crews will rebuild shoulders on either side of the highway and grind away wheel rutting.

The parking lot of the Horn School Rest Area will be repaved as part of this project. Overton said it will be the first time the asphalt at the rest stop has been be repaired since its construction in 1967.

Overton said the U.S. 195 project will wrap up in early September and is expected to cost $8.79 million.

Those looking to get around the delays on US 195 by using SR 27 will still run into construction.

Chip sealing on two sections of SR 27, from Garfield to Rockford and Freeman to 32nd Avenue, will begin June 29. Work began May 31, with crews repairing cracks and preparing the surface for sealing. The project is expected to wrap up in mid-August, and is part of an $11.9 million effort to repair the pavement on several roadways in Eastern Washington, Overton said.

Overton said chip sealing is a cheaper alternative to repaving, and keeps water from penetrating the surface and destroying the pavement. The oily mixture also provides an anti-glare surface during wet weather and an increased reflective surface for night driving.

“It creates a smoother driving surface and helps preserve the roadway,” Overton said.

The process of chip sealing starts with the mixing of asphalt with 30% water, which is then sprayed on the road. A layer of crushed gravel is then applied and compacted into the asphalt by large rollers. The new chip-seal surface can require up to two days to cure properly, but hot, dry weather helps speed the process.

Travelers on highway 27 should drive slower over the new surface to avoid kicking up any material that may damage their vehicles.