More than 100 major construction projects worth more than $1 billion will be under way in the Puget Sound area during the construction season. WSDOT officially kicked off the 2011 construction season in Lynnwood last week at the site of the $33 million I-5 braided-ramp project. It untangles traffic where daily commuters interstate travelers and Alderwood Mall shoppers come together to jockey for space.
“Construction is a year-round job but the most amount of work occurs from April through September” said Secretary of Transportation Paula Hammond. “This is good news in that more people are employed. But it also means drivers might encounter delays or detours and they certainly should be extra cautious when they see workers.”
Also over the next several months WSDOT maintenance teams will do striping small paving projects pothole repair litter cleanup tree trimming storm-drain clearing road-sign maintenance and repair and replacement of reflective lane markers.
“With so many more people working along our highways we would ask drivers to be extra vigilant in construction zones so all of our workers can go home safely to their loved ones at the end of their shifts” Hammond said.
Highway construction work is good news for the industry but contractors and their employees should plan ahead to avoid traffic tie-ups and road closures. Hammond said some of the ways to “know before you go” include:
- Overhead freeway signs
- Commercial television and radio traffic reports
- The WSDOT smart phone app www.wsdot.wa.gov/traffic/seattle/products/
- Twitter twitter.com/wsdot
- WSDOT Web pages: www.wsdot.wa.gov/construction/2011 www.wsdot.wa.gov/construction/2011/today.htm
“We are pleased that taxpayers support improving the transportation system throughout our state and the benefits it brings including reduced congestion better travel times improved safety and a stronger economy” Hammond said. “Yet we know getting the jobs done that bring those benefits can cause short-term headaches particularly when everyone is in high gear during the construction season.”
The Washington State Legislature allocated $15 billion for 421 projects in 2003 and 2005 gas-tax packages. To date WSDOT has delivered $10 billion in projects throughout the state.
Here is a look at just some of the work occurring in the Puget Sound area and beyond during this year’s construction season:
- I-5/SR 18/SR 161 Triangle: In June crews will close the Weyerhaeuser ramp to westbound SR 18 for three months. Watch for the entire ramp from SR 18 to I-5 to close for three weeks in July as crews build fly-over ramps. www.wsdot.wa.gov/projects/i5/sr18sr161ic/
- SR 520: Crews begin removing overpasses and building culverts east of Lake Washington June 4 to widen SR 520. The freeway will close for two full weekends in June and once a month every month through the end of the year. www.wsdot.wa.gov/Projects/SR520Bridge/MedinaTo202/
- US 2 Everett: Work to replace the rebar inside the Hewitt Avenue trestle begins in two weeks. Related westbound night-time lane closures will mean a lengthy detour for 65 nights. www.wsdot.wa.gov/projects/us2/trestlerehabstage2/
- Westbound Nalley Valley: In mid-May northbound I-5 traffic to SR 16 will be shifted to a temporary road. This shift will remain in place until the end of June. www.wsdot.wa.gov/projects/piercecountyhov/sr16_wbnalleyvalley/
- Holgate to King: Work to replace the southern mile of the Alaskan Way Viaduct is making progress with the opening of the new S. Royal Brougham Way ramps. The first new lanes are scheduled to open to traffic in 2012. www.wsdot.wa.gov/Projects/SR99/HolgateToKing/
- Snoqualmie Pass: The second season of blasting rock begins in early May to make room for new lanes in each direction on I-90. Three miles of new lanes along the lake are scheduled to open to traffic in 2013. www.wsdot.wa.gov/Projects/I90/SnoqualmiePassEast/HyaktoKeechelusDam/