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What to expect during construction

What type of construction will WSDOT do to widen the road?
Where will you start construction?
How noisy will construction be?
What will you do to minimize noise during construction?
When will you be doing construction: During the day or at night?
I drive this road daily. How will construction affect me?
Will you have full roadway closures?
When will I be able to use the new lanes?
Where can I find more information about lane closures and construction work?


 
What type of construction will WSDOT do to widen the road?
Once we put up our construction signs and mark off sensitive areas with bright orange fencing, we can begin clearing trees and brush along the area where we will widen the highway. When that’s done, we’ll bring in crews and equipment to move sewer or drainage lines that might be in the way of our construction. Next, we’ll smooth out the cleared areas and add fill material to form the base of the new lanes. (This material is known as “subgrade”).

Once the subgrade is in place and has been smoothed out with a “base course” of crushed material, we’ll put down three layers of asphalt. The first layer is called the base layer – it’s essentially the foundation for the next two layers. The second layer is the leveling layer – where crews make sure the road is as smooth and level as possible. The third and final layer is the “wearing” layer – it’s designed to stand up to all the cars and trucks that will drive on it. Once the asphalt has cured properly (usually about 3 weeks) we’ll place final stripes and voila: A new stretch of highway is born.

All this work doesn’t happen overnight, of course. It typically takes several months to get a small stretch of highway from dirt to finished product – and we have three miles of highway in each direction to build. Not only that, we’ll be creating new stormwater detention ponds to catch and treat highway runoff, putting up new traffic signals, and installing raised median barrier (and designated U-turn locations [pdf 1.8mb]) along the center of the newly widened highway. It’s a lot of work, and we expect to wrap it up by summer 2013.

 
Where will you start construction?
Our plan is to start work at the south end of the project, near Maltby Road, and work our way north as we widen the east side of the road. Once we get a head start on the east side of the road, we’ll start working on the west side – so you’ll see crews working on both sides of the road at the same time. During the winter, crews will do construction work that isn’t affected by the cold weather – such as electrical work – and may have a few nighttime lane closures.

  
How noisy will construction be?
As you might expect, construction is inherently noisy. From cutting and clearing brush to digging and grading, nearly every part of construction can get loud. During construction, we get a noise exemption from the county for anything that will be excessively loud. If you live or work nearby, we’ll let you know at least a week before we start any noisy work. We’ll also have a contact number in place if you have questions or concerns about the noise.

 
What will you do to minimize noise during construction?
We have several plans in place to keep noise to a minimum during construction. We will secure truck tailgates to keep them from banging loudly, maintain bedliners in trucks, and equip construction vehicles with ambient-sensitive backup alarms to minimize disruption to residents while still keeping crews safe. Additionally, we’ll sweep up and remove any construction debris by hand – when possible – to reduce equipment noise.

 
When will you be doing construction: During the day or at night?
For drivers, the most noticeable work will be done at night. We’ll close a lane from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. on weeknights as we widen the road and build the new lanes. Flaggers will direct you through the work zone, but you should expect some delays – likely no more than 10 minutes. We’ll have crews on site during the day, too, doing work off the road – like building stormwater retention ponds.

 
I drive this road daily. How will construction affect me?
We’ll be widening SR 9 along the both sides of the road, starting with the east side. In order to create a wide, safe work area for construction crews, we’ll narrow the lanes and shift them slightly to the east or west – depending on where crews are working at the time. Drivers will still have two lanes through the work area, but they may be slightly narrower with smaller shoulders.

During the day, most work will take place off the road. You may face brief delays as trucks and construction equipment enter and leave the work zone. But on weeknights, we’ll close a single lane from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. and have flaggers direct you through our work zone.

 
Will you have full roadway closures?
Yes, we have a couple full roadway closures planned, as well as some complete directional closures (like all northbound lanes or all southbound lanes). We’ll do a full roadway closure at the 180th St. intersection when crews install a new signal. The directional closures will happen whenever crews have some complex work to complete. The full directional closures allow us to get the work done faster – all at once during a weekend, for example – than if we had to close lanes all night for two weeks. We’ll let residents, businesses and drivers know about these planned closures at least a week in advance. We’ll also have posted detour routes so drivers can find their way around the closed section of highway.

 
When will I be able to use the new lanes?
You’ll have to wait until summer 2013 to drive on the new lanes. You might see stretches of highway that look done and ready for cars, but there’s a reason you won’t be able to use them: They’ll become our work area. Once we get new sections of roadway widened and paved, we’ll start using these lanes as our work and staging area. That will allow us to do more of our work off the road and out of your way.

 
Where can I find information about lane closures and construction work?
We post information about upcoming construction, including lane and roadway closures, on our Snohomish County construction update page: www.wsdot.wa.gov/Northwest/Snohomish/Construction/.  We update this page every Thursday and Friday with details about construction for the upcoming week. We also post daily updates if construction schedules change. This is the best place to find updated construction information for the SR 9 widening project.