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Gov. Gregoire awards students' top prize in statewide transportation art and essay contest

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Date:  Monday, June 11, 2012

Contact: Meagan McFadden, WSDOT communications, 509-577-1618 (Yakima)
View photos of the winners online

CLE ELUM – Gov. Chris Gregoire recognized two young artists during a surprise award ceremony today, June 11, for their outstanding creativity in the eighth annual Interstate 90 Bridging Futures Art and Essay Contest. The ceremony took place during the annual conference for the Western Governors’ Association at Suncadia Resort in Cle Elum.

The winning student artists are:

• Axel Oxholm, 4th grade, Cedarhurst Elementary, Burien, WA
• Krista Heald, 3rd grade, Mountainview Elementary, Yakima, WA

The contest is co-sponsored by the Washington State Department of Transportation and the I-90 Wildlife Bridges Coalition. Oxholm and Heald received framed copies of their artwork and prize bags. The artwork of the top 10 artists will be on display this summer at several businesses along the I-90 corridor.

“I like Axel’s cartoon style, with lots of little things to find, such as volcanoes and a plane pulling the Bridging Future sign. His essay is short and straightforward,” said Charlie Raines, director of the I-90 Wildlife Bridges Coalition.

“The creativity of Krista’s essay is what made it particularly special to me. Krista wrote the essay from the perspective of the elk, which served as a great reminder of the kinds of things animals need to survive,” said Jennifer Ziegler, 2012 contest judge and transportation adviser with Gov. Gregoire’s office.

More than 100 students ranging in age from five to 10 participated in the contest. The students attend schools and organizations in Seattle, Maple Valley, Burien, Tacoma, Ellensburg and Yakima. The students created drawings depicting wildlife bridges – an essential part of the I-90 Snoqualmie Pass East Project – and essays highlighting the importance of considering wildlife when planning and designing state highways.

“Thousands of people travel over I-90 every day, and the more we can reduce potential collisions between vehicles and wildlife the better,” said Brian White, WSDOT assistant regional administrator for project development and I-90 construction. “One of the ways WSDOT is making I-90 safer and more efficient is by addressing wildlife connectivity over Snoqualmie Pass.”

In addition to building wildlife under- and over-crossings that will help r-connect habitat in the Central Cascades, WSDOT is improving I-90 by building a new six-lane freeway from Hyak to Keechelus Dam. This project is also:
• Replacing deteriorated concrete pavement in the existing lanes and shoulders for a smoother ride
• Stabilizing rock slopes to reduce the risk of rocks falling onto the roadway
• Extending chain-up and chain-off areas for freight
• Straightening sharp curves to improve visibility
• Replacing the snowshed with a new structure to reduce avalanche-related closures
• Adding lights, traffic cameras and variable message signs.

WSDOT received funding from 2005 gas tax to design and construct this project, which is scheduled to be complete by 2017.

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