YAKIMA – A first place tie means two Washington high school students are earning green for college in a scholarship contest focused on Interstate 90 wildlife crossings, east of Snoqualmie Pass.
Brydon Eakins, a senior at University High School in Spokane and Elaina Thomas, a junior at Garfield High School in Seattle, both received a $1,000 scholarship from the I-90 Wildlife Bridges Coalition on Thursday, June 6.
“We received an amazing response from very talented high school students, making our job to select the best entries an exciting challenge,” said Charlie Raines, contest judge and Wildlife Bridges Coalition director. “Two students stood out in their work, and how ironic that they reside in cities that bookend I-90 in Washington.”
Juniors and seniors from across the state submitted creative scholarship entries. Students were asked to provide concepts that tackle the same problem Washington State Department of Transportation engineers are solving: Building a wildlife crossing over I-90. The crossing had to be similar to the structure scheduled to be built in 2015 near the Price Noble Creek Sno-Park and temporary rest area. The wildlife crossing is part of the second phase of the I-90 Snoqualmie Pass East project.
Entries were whittled down to the top five and given to a judging panel of transportation and I-90 project experts. The judging panel included Charlie Raines, director of the I-90 Wildlife Bridges Coalition; Kirk Holmes, director of Kittitas County Public Works; Douglas MacDonald, former secretary of transportation; U.S. Rep Dave Reichert; Sen. Curtis King, 14 legislative district; and Lynn Peterson, secretary of transportation.
Eakins submitted a computer design that focused on an environmentally-friendly crossing while Thomas’ 3-D model focused on safety for wildlife and drivers.
“We appreciate the work by all of the students who entered this contest, and congratulate the two winners,” said Brian White, WSDOT assistant regional administrator for construction. “We’ll be displaying the top five designs in our Olympia headquarters office during the summer.”
In addition to wildlife crossings that help reconnect habitat in the central Cascades, WSDOT is improving I-90 by building a new six-lane freeway from Hyak to Keechelus Dam. This project:
• Replaces deteriorated concrete pavement in the existing lanes and shoulders for a smoother ride
• Stabilizes rock slopes to reduce the risk of rocks falling onto the roadway
• Extends chain-up and -off areas to improve safety
• Straightens sharp curves to improve visibility
• Replaces the snowshed east of Snoqualmie Pass with new avalanche bridges
• Adds lights, traffic cameras and variable message signs.
WSDOT received funding from the 2005 gas tax package to design and construct this project. The first five miles of improvements are scheduled to be complete in 2017.
Hyperlinks within the news release:
• I-90 Snoqualmie Pass East Web page:
• I-90 Wildlife Bridges Coalition:
• Essays and photos from top five entries: