HYAK — The state Department of Transportation last week celebrated the opening of an improved 3-mile stretch of Interstate 90 over Snoqualmie Pass.
The stretch of highway east of the summit represents the first section of a 5-mile improvement project between Hyak and the Keechelus Dam. Work started in 2011 and is scheduled to continue on the other 2 miles until fall 2018.
According to the Transportation Department, the 3-mile stretch that opened to traffic Thursday required pouring 68,000 cubic yards of concrete, which took 177 hours of lane closures over 520 days to accomplish. It required the removal of 1 million cubic yards of material and used 400,000 pounds of explosives. The $551 million project was funded by the 2005 gas tax.
The project adds a lane in each direction, replaces deteriorating pavement, adds safety measures to reduce the risks of closure due to avalanche, reduces sharp curves and stabilizes rock slopes.
“Many recognized the need to improve I-90, and we collaborated with dozens of agencies during design and construction to make sure everyone’s needs were met,” Cam Gilmour, deputy secretary of transportation, said in a news release.
Work on the other 2 miles of the 5-mile stretch from Hyak to the Keechelus Dam, collectively known as Phase 1 of the I-90 Snoqualmie Pass East project, is ongoing but will stop for the winter sometime around the end of this month, Transportation Department spokeswoman Summer Derrey said.
“We have kind of a narrow construction window,” Derrey said. “So we have to shut down for the safety of the drivers.”
Phase 1 is expected to come in under budget, and the WSDOT plans to use $108 million in cost savings to design and build Phase 2A, from the Keechelus Dam to Stampede Pass, the next 2 miles of the 15-mile project.