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Monday, May 23, 2011
Joe Irwin, WSDOT Communications, 360-357-2703
Chris Keegan, WSDOT Regional Operations Engineer, 360-357-2604
WSDOT, Coast Guard seeking public comment on pilot program
SHINE – State Route 104 Hood Canal Bridge drivers are used to sporadic closures caused by everything from marine vessel openings and construction work to violent windstorms. But this summer, they’ll have to get used to something else – predictability.
From May 27 to Sept. 30, the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) and the United States Coast Guard (USCG) will try a pilot program that closes the bridge to private marine vessels from 3 to 6 p.m. daily.
WSDOT traffic engineers found that approximately 1,700 of the 16,000 travelers who cross the SR 104 Hood Canal Bridge daily do so during the peak evening commute hours. This also holds true on weekends as drivers head to and from the scenic Olympic Peninsula. Meanwhile, boaters can give as little as an hour’s notice and bridge crews are required to open the center span, closing this stretch of SR 104 in the process.
“Boating traffic on the canal is higher during the warmer months, and drivers’ schedules often take a backseat as a result,” said Chris Keegan, WSDOT Regional Operations Engineer. “Setting hours when the bridge doesn’t open for boaters makes it that much easier for motorists to plan ahead and get where they’re going on time.”
The temporary schedule is a variance to federal codes for moveable bridges and could become permanent if drivers speak up on the matter by submitting comments to the USCG at http://www.regulations.gov/ naval vessels are exempt from the schedule, and will be granted passage through the bridge’s center span any time of day.
“We’re open to adjustments, making it permanent, revoking it or trying something completely different after the test period,” said Keegan, noting that this decision would be guided by both observations and public response.
To learn more about recent improvements to the SR 104 Hood Canal Bridge, please visit http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/projects/sr104hoodcanalbridgeeast/
WSDOT keeps people, businesses and the economy moving by operating and improving the state's transportation systems. To learn more about what we're doing, go to www.wsdot.wa.gov/news for pictures, videos, news and blogs. Real time traffic information is available at www.wsdot.wa.gov/traffic/ or by dialing 511.
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