Nothing says summer in the Northwest like bright orange “Road Work Ahead” signs.
Heading over the Cascades? Better pack some patience. Washington State Department of Transportation officials say travel across Interstate 90 from the summit of Snoqualmie Pass to Vantage is going to be “particularly tricky” due to a series of road projects along the popular route.
Drivers can expect traffic jams near Vantage Bridge, which is down to a single eastbound lane until the end of summer while it’s re-painted. Other construction spots are near Keechelus Lake (mileposts 54-62), the Easton area (mileposts 67-70) and near Ellensburg (mileposts 106-122).
Closer to home, about a dozen major road projects are planned in Thurston County. They might not scream “Trafficmageddon!” like the I-90 situation in Central Washington, but they could still create plenty of delays, detours and distractions.
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Crews are widening of about three-quarters of a mile of Highway 510 near the Red Wind Casino, 12819 Yelm Highway SE.
The tribe is paying for the $3.3 million project with money from a gas tax compact, according to Nisqually public works director Tony Berkson. Tapani Underground of Battle Ground was awarded the contract and is scheduled to wrap it up by the end of July.
As part of the project, a new traffic signal was installed about 600 feet west of an existing light; it’s scheduled to go live July 19 and will help direct traffic into the casino’s new expanded parking garage. The old signal will eventually be removed.
Most of the work is being done during daytime hours, but a portion of the paving is scheduled for three nights this week.
“We’re doing lane channeling, so it’s always open,” Berkson said. “But it slows people down certainly, and being a busy highway, people are seeing a bit of congestion until we get it opened up.”
In addition, drivers may notice some major changes across the street, about a half mile west of the casino.
Crews cleared about 34 1/2 acres where thousands of people are expected to gather for the 2016 Canoe Journey. The canoes are scheduled to land at the Port of Olympia on July 30, and a potlatch celebration is slated to continue on the reservation until Aug. 6. For more information on the event, go to paddletonisqually.com.
CITY OF OLYMPIA
The city of Olympia is investing more than $19 million in projects at city-owned facilities, as well as addressing drinking water, stormwater, sewer and transportation systems.
One of the biggest endeavors is bringing new sidewalks to the south side of 22nd Avenue from Cain Road to Boulevard Road and to the north side of 22nd Avenue from Swanee Place to Wilson Street.
“It’s a federally grant-funded project,” said Brett Bures, a project manager with the city of Olympia. “And it’s a safe-routes-to-school program.”
Quigg Bros. of Aberdeen was awarded the nearly $675,000 contract for the work, which began in mid-May and is slated to be finished at the end of July.
The city also began a pavement preservation project that includes striping removal and new chip seal for about 1.7 miles of roadway throughout the city, including portions of Lilly Road, Pacific Avenue, Phoenix Street, Puget Street and Eighth Avenue Southeast.
Doolittle Construction of Bellevue was awarded the nearly $462,000 contract. Most of the work is being done after commuting hours and on the weekends, and the project is scheduled to be finished by mid-August, Bures said.
Another project that’s more likely to affect pedestrians than motorists is installation of new LED lighting in nine downtown alleyways, including the ones adjacent to Courtyard Antiques, 705 Fourth Ave. E., and between Obsidian and the Eastside Club Tavern, 410 Fourth Ave. E.
The purpose of the lighting is “primarily public safety,” said Jim Rioux, a project manager with the city of Olympia.
“There’s been a lot of interest in renewing downtown and using alleys as pedestrian pathways,” he said.
Downtown’s alleys were ranked for the project.
“They had actually mapped alleys where they were having high incidents of drug use or assaults or prostitution or even defecation,” Rioux said.
The project began last summer with the lighting of seven alleys for about $100,000. The city hasn’t advertised for a contractor yet, but it expects to pay about the same amount for this year’s phase of the project, Rioux said.
He said the city doesn’t track incidents in a way that could show the lighting has cut crime, but anecdotally, officials have received positive responses from businesses in the areas where lighting was installed.
“The feedback we’re getting is that they’re having lower incidents of the problems they were having,” he said.
And then there’s a relatively small project that’s expected to have a significant impact on downtown traffic later this summer. The city is doing stormwater pipe upgrades at Seventh Avenue Southwest and Water Street, near Olympia Supply Hardware.
“It frequently floods (in that area), and we’re doing a little project to reroute and seal up some of the stormwater pipes down there,” Rioux said.
The nearly $170,000 project is expected to begin around the first week of August and should take about three weeks to complete. The city is still in the process of going out to bid on the project.
Flaggers will be posted at the site, but there isn’t a lot of extra room in that area, so Rioux recommends drivers use alternate routes to reduce traffic snarls.
A nearly two-week closure is scheduled for state Route 121 (more commonly known locally as Tilley Road Southwest) at 113th Avenue, near the entrance of Millersylvania Park, in early August.
The park will remain open and accessible via Maytown Exit 95, said Doug Adamson, a spokesman for WSDOT.
“We thank drivers in advance for their patience,” he said. “This is a big construction project, and the roadway will not be there.”
Granite Construction was awarded the nearly $2.67 million contract to replace old culverts with two new large “fish friendly” box culverts under the roadway.
“It will open up an additional 3.1 miles of upstream habitat,” Adamson said. “So the fish can get through an area that was harder for them to get through.”
WSDOT is almost finished with two other big South Sound projects: a $1 million paving project for state Routes 507 and 510 in and around Rainier, Yelm and Roy, and a $1.92 million paving project on U.S. 101 between Kamilche and Tumwater.
Both of those projects are expected to be completed within the next two weeks, Adamson said.
To learn more about WSDOT projects, go to wsdot.wa.gov/news.
The county is nearing the end of a six-mile paving project on Old Highway 99 from the Tenino city limits to the Lewis County line. The project began in May, and crews are expected to wrap it up within the next couple of weeks.
“It’s mainly a maintenance project to replace old, failing infrastructure,” said Steve Bricker, an associate civil engineer with Thurston County. “Old Highway 99 is really one of our busiest roads in the area. It gets a lot of commercial and heavy trucks; it kind of takes a heavy beating.”
A $2.1 million contract for the project was awarded to Lakeside Industries of Centralia.
The county has about five other smaller roads projects, including grinding of degraded pavement and overlaying Rich Road with new asphalt, from the Deschutes River bridge to 97th Lane, and from 82nd Avenue to 59th Court. Work on the $555,000 project is slated to take place July 11-19.
CITY OF LACEY
In mid-July, crews are scheduled to begin widening Marvin Road Northeast, from Britton Parkway/Willamette Drive to 30th Avenue Northeast.
A “slip lane” — basically a free right turn lane — will be added to the roundabout at Britton.
The $2.39 million contract was awarded to Tapani.
During the project, Comcast and Puget Sound Energy crews will be doing some work in the area, too, said Aubrey Argeris, a design and construction manager with the city of Lacey.
“There’s a portion of time where it’s going to look like utility trenching,” she said.
Nighttime closures are expected while the roundabout is paved. Argeris said updates on the project will be posted on the city of Lacey’s public works website.
The city also has a major stormwater project in the neighborhood bounded by College Street Southeast and Ruddell Road Southeast and 23rd Avenue Southeast and 28th Avenue Southeast.
As part of that project, Judd Street will be extended from 24th Avenue Southeast to 25th Avenue Southeast.
“It’s kind of the missing link in that neighborhood,” Argeris said.
The $2.8 million contract was awarded to Pacific Civil and Infrastructure of Federal Way and will likely be completed by the end of July, Argeris said.
The city also has begun replacing water lines and installing sewer lines in the Hicks Lake neighborhood and along Shady Lane Road Southeast. The $1.6 million project is contracted to Waunch Construction and Trucking of Olympia and is expected to be finished by November, Argeris said.
City officials are frequently asked when crews will begin working on a roundabout at Hogum Bay Road and Willamette Drive, she said.
“Hogum Bay will be under construction next year,” Argeris said.
CITY OF TUMWATER
Crews have begun a nearly $991,500 project that will widen Tumwater Boulevard and create a westbound left turn lane at the I-5 southbound ramp. The project is scheduled to be finished by November, said Jay Eaton, public works director for the city of Tumwater.
The city also has a nearly $200,000 project that will chip seal and crack seal more than a dozen residential streets, he said. All of the work is slated to be completed this month.
CITY OF YELM
From July 21 to the end of September, crews are scheduled to work on water mains along state Route 507, which goes through the heart of town.
“It’s kind of an ongoing effort to replace any pipe that’s asbestos,” said Chad Bedlington, public works director for the city of Yelm.
Although most of the work is expected to take place at night, commuters can expect some delays because traffic will be reduced to one lane, Bedlington said.
“If a detour is needed, then they certainly will put up signs for it,” he said.
South Bay Excavating of Olympia was awarded the nearly $475,000 contract.