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July 2012

From the Regional Administrator
Keith Metcalf

Welcome to our July 2012 newsletter.

July was a busy month for our maintenance crews. We have details below.

If you have any questions on items in this newsletter, or other transportation issues, please let me know. Give me a call at (509) 324-6010 or drop me an e-mail at metcalk@wsdot.wa.gov .

Keith Metcalf
Regional Administrator

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Big storm hits northeast Washington

A huge thunderstorm with record winds hit northeast Washington on the afternoon of Friday, July 20th. The storm downed hundreds of trees and power poles, blocking State Routes 20 and 21 in Ferry County. Our Republic crew sprang into action, working through the night and the next day clearing trees from the highways. The team was able to remove the trees from across SR 20 on Sherman Pass by about 5:30 a.m. on Saturday morning. It took a little longer to open up the 85-mile stretch of SR 21. That was cleared around noon on Saturday. They were able to get the roads opened quickly as they merely cut the trees at the pavement edge, making the highway just wide enough for vehicles to get through. An even bigger job is now underway with the crews removing the debris from the shoulders. It’s estimated that it will take a couple of weeks to finish up. Meanwhile, the power company in Ferry County has an even bigger challenge: over 900 miles of electrical lines were damaged during the same storm.

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Slide covers SR 263

Earlier the same week, on Monday, July 16th, the unsettled July weather patterns caused a mishap on State Route 263 just south of Kahlotus in Franklin County. Extremely heavy rain caused a large landslide that covered the highway with mud and boulders. The debris was over five feet deep and blocked about 750 feet of the roadway. WSDOT crews estimated that there was 3,500 to 4,500 cubic yards of material on the highway. Because of the size of the rocks and the huge volume of the material, an emergency contract was put into place so we could bring in a contractor with larger equipment. Central Washington Asphalt arrived on scene with a D-8 Caterpillar and a large excavator to tackle the problem. They were able to remove the debris and place it adjacent to the highway, reshaping the slope to lessen the impact should that area slide again. The highway was cleared and opened to traffic late Tuesday afternoon. Later in the week, crews were able to remove the damaged pavement and place a new layer of hot mix asphalt on the roadway.

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Water fills up I-90 lanes in Spokane

When it rains, it pours. On Saturday, July 14th, a cloudburst with rain and hail blew through Spokane at about 3 p.m. The drains along the freeway were never plugged, but that much water in such a short time simply overwhelmed the freeway drainage system in the low section between Altamont Street and Havana Street. Over 12 inches of water pooled across all six lanes and it took over 90 minutes for the water to drain away from the travel lanes.