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Daytime lane closures planned July 17 on US 2 near Stevens Pass.

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Date:  Friday, July 13, 2012

Contact:

Jeff Adamson WSDOT Communications Manager (509) 667-2815 (Wenatchee)

Mike Andreini WSDOT Project Engineer (509) 667-2860 (Wenatchee)

Drivers should expect delays as crews remove loose rock near the highway

WENATCHEE - Watching giant rocks bounce down a mountain highway might look cool – in the movies. In real life, crews working to remove rocks from slopes west of Stevens Pass on US 2 want to prevent that from happening. For drivers, that will mean intermittent daytime lane closures next Tuesday, July 17.

Contractor crews working for MidWest Rockfall Inc. found some very large loose rocks in various locations on the unstable slope west of the Stevens Pass summit; those rocks have the potential to break through the protective concrete barriers and reach the highway. To keep drivers safe, crews will intermittently close all lanes of US 2 from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. July 17 as they remove the rocks. During the brief, 10-minute closures, flaggers will stop westbound traffic at the summit and eastbound traffic at the Iron Goat Interpretive Center near Scenic.

We hadn't planned to completely close the highway at all for this project," said Mike Andreini, Washington State Department of Transportation project engineer, "But the size and location of these boulders is a challenge. The only safe way to bring them down is to pull all the big ones in a single day and hopefully minimize delays for drivers."

The two eastbound lanes of US 2 below the slopes have been closed since construction started this spring, with traffic shifted to one lane in each direction in the two westbound lanes. During the full highway closures, crews don't expect the closures to last longer than 10 minutes unless a rock breaks through the barriers and reaches the highway.

Crews began work in early May to remove the loose and unstable material that has been a safety hazard for drivers near Stevens Pass. Once crews complete rock scaling work, they'll install bolts to help stabilize the slope and drape the area with steel nets to catch any loose material.

This $5.5 million project is expected to be complete in 2014. Because snow dictates when construction season at 4,000 feet in the Cascades can begin, crews typically work from May until October. Find more information on the project website at www.wsdot.wa.gov/projects/us2/stevenswestslopes.


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