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Monday, October 31, 2011
Mike Westbay, WSDOT communications, 509-577-1617 (Yakima)
Bill Preston, WSDOT project engineer, 509-577-1810 (Yakima)
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Oct. 31, 2011
Improvements at I-82 and Valley Mall Boulevard already showing benefits; project now complete
UNION GAP – Completion of new ramps and the third and final roundabout at the Valley Mall Boulevard/Interstate 82 interchange marks the end of construction on a project that already has improved traffic flow and reduced accidents.
On Monday, Oct. 31, local, state and federal officials joined the Washington State Department of Transportation in celebrating the interchange improvements with a ribbon-cutting ceremony.
The $34 million, 18-month reconstruction project included installation of three large roundabouts, two new interstate bridges built higher for better clearance and wider for future expansion, and new on-ramps and off-ramps that allow traffic to access the interstate without waiting at stop signs or traffic signals.
“These improvements relieved traffic congestion at the busiest intersection in Union Gap, opened access to businesses and kept 140 men and women working, “ said state Transportation Secretary Paula Hammond. “Investments like this one help the economic vitality of the area and provide family wage jobs – important benefits at this time in our recovering economy.”
Since the first two new roundabouts opened in November of last year, traffic flow has improved and traffic data shows that collisions in the area have been cut in half. Some 22,000 vehicles use the Valley Mall Boulevard interchange each day and, prior to the reconstruction, occasionally backed up onto I-82.
“Prior to reconstruction I can remember waiting for several minutes in long lines to get through the signalized intersections,” said Don Whitehouse, WSDOT regional administrator. “Now the longest I’ve waited to get through the new roundabouts is about 10 seconds.”
Apollo Inc. of Kennewick was the general contractor on the project, which was the largest one funded in Yakima County by federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act money. Funding also came from the state’s 2005 Transportation Partnership gas-tax increase.
The project was completed on time and half a million dollars under budget.
Over the next few days, Apollo crews will occasionally close lanes and shoulders for landscaping and seeding. Drivers should expect minimal delays.
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