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Thursday, December 19, 2013
Terry Berends, WSDOT traffic engineer, 509-667-3080
Trooper Darren Wright, WSP public information, 509-679-6228
STEVENS PASS – In an effort to increase safety for pedestrians and motorists on U.S. Highway 2 over Stevens Pass, the Washington State Department of Transportation and Washington State Patrol have designated six miles of highway a legally enforceable no pedestrian and no hitchhiking zone.
From Tunnel Creek on the west side of Stevens Pass to Yodelin on the east side (mileposts 60.15 to 66.24), pedestrians, hitchhikers and drivers who stop to offer them rides risk $124 citations between Nov. 1 and Apr. 15.
The new regulation expands an existing ban on pedestrians walking on the shoulder to both west and eastbound lanes. The original wintertime shoulder closures to pedestrians were instituted in 2001-2002 and only applied to one shoulder.
An increasing number of skiers and snowboarders are now traversing outside the ski area boundaries, making their own route down to U.S. 2 then hitching rides back to the Stevens Pass summit.
“Sometimes their route is an avalanche chute, not only presenting a risk to the individual, but also potentially triggering a snow slide onto the roadway,” said region traffic engineer Terry Berends.
When drivers stop for hitchhikers, vehicles sometimes cannot get traction to get started again. This can block other vehicles, risk collisions and cause other drivers to engage in risky evasive maneuvers. The hazards magnify when they occur below an avalanche zone.
A pedestrian walking back to the summit can find the shoulder to be dangerous, too. Walls of compact snow along U.S. 2 can reduce the shoulder to only a narrow strip, providing pedestrians no escape from an errant vehicle. Snow removal operations and darkness compound that risk.
WSDOT has installed additional signs on U.S. 2, and additional messaging is posted in the ski area to help increase awareness of the risk of hitchhiking and the newly expanded no-hitchhiking zone. WSP is emphasizing enforcement, particularly early in the season.
2013_10/28 Revision - US2regulationprohibitingpedsandhitchhiking.docx
RCW 46.61.160 - http://apps.leg.wa.gov/RCW/default.aspx?cite=46.61.160
WAC 468-58-050 - www.wsdot.wa.gov/publications/manuals/fulltext/M3007/Appendix17.pdf
RCW 46.61.255 - http://apps.leg.wa.gov/RCW/default.aspx?cite=46.61.255
RCW 47.52.025 - http://apps.leg.wa.gov/RCW/default.aspx?cite=47.52.025
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