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North Central Region NewsBrief


October 13, 2017

In this issue:

o On the Road

o Follow-up File

o Behind the Curtain

o Olympia

On the Road

Winter is Here in the Passes

10/2 Stevens Pass Ski Area

Stevens Pass got its first snow October 2nd. Our maintenance crews climbed into their Snowplows at Stevens for the first time last weekend. Snowfall from Wednesday through this morning (Friday 10/13) required more plowing on Stevens, Blewett, and the North Cascades. Even Loup Loup, Wauconda and Disautel got a dusting. Stevens and White Passes had the first restrictions – approved traction devices advised – of the season this morning as well.

Our Avalanche Control Chief, Mike Stanford said the snow level dropped to around 3,000 feet Wednesday. There was already snow on the ground above 5,000 feet on Washington Pass since last week.”

10/7 NCH

Dee Camp from the Omak Okanogan Chronicle drove over the North Cascades last Saturday and confirmed the snowfall with this photo she sent us.

Mike noted, “Right now, meteorologists are calling for up to a 60% chance for another La Nina winter. That generally means cooler and wetter for us.”

The experts are also predicting the La Nina conditions won’t likely develop until January.

If you’re traveling over the mountains, “Know before you go” and be prepared.

Orange Cones

We Heard You

Odabashian bridge joints

Our maintenance crews were out on the eastbound outside lane of the Odabashian Bridge Tuesday to address the bumps at the expansion joints that resulted from the paving we did two weeks ago. They will be out again from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. this Tuesday to continue the work.

The paving work itself is actually a temporary “preservation” fix to keep the bridge deck pavement from breaking up and potholing any further until the next scheduled paving contract occurs. While it looks like the lane was repaved it is in essence a large patch.

Our maintenance crews did the work with the equipment we have, which is not ideal for this type of repair / patching.

The temporary patching extends the life of the existing pavement. Budgeting constraints are such that we cannot repave the entire bridge until 2020. When that repaving contract actually happens, a grinding machine will be utilized by the contractor to remove a portion of the existing pavement, including the temporary patch just added. That will make the transition to the expansions joints considerably smoother.

This week’s work on the expansion joints is only temporary as well. Asphalt was placed to reduce the height difference between the pavement and the joints. As the joints do their job allowing the bridge pavement panels to expand and contract – there will likely be some crumbling as asphalt isn’t as flexible as the joints.


While the NoSeeUm Road Roundabout on SR 150 in Chelan is still several weeks from completion, for next week drivers can expect flaggers and delays up to 20 minutes as crews grind off old asphalt and finish the paving. Work next week will also include curbing, guttering and possibly paving of the No See Um Rd. leg to the roundabout. Colder and wetter weather could affect when and how long the paving will take.

Check our Region’s Weekly Construction Update and Travel Advisory for details on the other projects underway.

For work on Snoqualmie Pass: I-90/Snoqualmie Pass - What's Happening?

Follow Up File

SR 28_5th St. NE Roundabout Signage

5th St. RAB sign

On Monday a portable electronic message sign telling drivers in the roundabout that they have the right of way onto the Sellar Bridge was in place. The backups on the SB Sunset Highway off ramp to the bridge have reduced daily since then as have the number of traffic signal cycles some drivers had to wait through at 9th St. NE.

Thank You.

Check this Roundabout page for how they work.

SR 28 Ephrata Re-Stripe

Ephrata Restripe-After

Every day an average of 9,000 vehicles travel from Oasis Park to downtown Ephrata. There are 2 intersections and 27 private approaches over the length of this segment. Early this year after reviewing the last few years of accident history and doing an operational review our Traffic Engineers recommend the section be restriped incorporating a center turn lane.

The WSDOT Maintenance Crew recently restriped the segment to include one 11’ center turn lane, two 10.5’ driving lanes, and two 4’ shoulders providing a refuge lane for turning traffic.

I-fiberOne did a followup news story on the restripe this week. Read it here.

Behind the Curtain

The story above has more to it. First, it wasn’t even proposed as project until February and it was accomplished for about $40,000 – half what a traditional private contract project would have cost.

It came about through a WSDOT Traffic Office program funded by the legislature in 2013 called the Low Cost Enhancement Program.

Low Cost Enhancement (LCE) projects are small, low cost — usually less than $150,000 — projects that can be quickly implemented to reduce the potential for crashes or to reduce congestion. LCEs quickly address emerging crash trends and mobility issues. These projects bring near-term relief to operational deficiencies.

Because of their low cost and quick implementation, LCE projects are often very practical solutions to emerging needs. LCE projects may often postpone the need for larger capital projects.

LCE projects often originate with concerned citizens, elected officials, local agencies, or region staff.

In the case of Ephrata, the restripe came about as a result of a new planning process called Field Assessment Studies. It is a quick look at individual highway corridors (in this case SR 28) to hear what the people who live with it think ought to be fixed. We meet with mayors, commissioners, law enforcement, emergency service providers, schools, farmers, business operators, etc.

In this space over the weeks ahead, we’ll highlight some of the fixes suggested from the various field assessments performed thus far.


Transportation Commission to Consider Road Usage Charge Pilot Project

On Tuesday morning, the commission will hear a progress report for the Road Usage Charge (RUC) pilot project that will launch early in 2018. With detailed planning for the pilot project well underway, the commission will hear more about current public attitudes toward RUC. Commissioners will also focus on reporting options, activities of other pilot project partners such as Oregon, as well as the draft evaluation plan.

They’re still seeking volunteers. Sign up here.

Dan Sarles

Regional Administrator, WSDOT North Central Region

If you have any questions on items in this NewsBrief, or other transportation issues, please let me know. Call me at (509) 667-3001 or send me an e-mail at:

NewsBriefs are the result of the efforts of my Leadership Team:

Leadership team