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April 2012

From the Regional Administrator
Keith Metcalf 

Welcome to our April 2012 newsletter. This month we talk about construction projects starting up and how you can get the latest information plus the 10 year anniversary of the Spokane Regional Transportation Management Center (SRTMC). We also note National Work Zone Safety Awareness Week and some nationally published work by our engineers.

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
509-324-6010
metcalk@wsdot.wa.gov

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Construction projects ramp up for 2012

Some of the state highway construction projects around the Region have started for 2012. Work on the Interstate 90/Geiger Blvd. to Downtown Spokane job got rolling on Monday, April 23rd and all three of the North Spokane Corridor projects have resumed work. Our contractors are also working on the NSC Children of the Sun Trail extension into the Mead community plus the US 195 traffic camera and variable message sign project just south of downtown Spokane.

As the weather becomes more predictable, a number of projects will get underway. We have a fairly large “chip-seal” contract this year with over 150 miles of surfacing in Spokane, Whitman, Adams, and Lincoln Counties. Later this season, we’ll also have asphalt paving jobs on Interstate 90 between the Four Lakes Interchange and Geiger Blvd., on US 195 between Pullman and Colfax, plus one on SR 21 north of Republic.

An easy way to keep track of our state highway work is to check our Weekly Construction Update on the web at: www.wsdot.wa.gov/Regions/Eastern/ConstructionUpdate . As always, please drive carefully and “Give ‘em a Brake” in construction zones.

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Area construction info and maps available

Along with the Weekly Construction Update web link above, you can find out where we have projects planned for the 2012 construction season. Our WSDOT Eastern Region Internet home page has several links to project pages and our 2012 project map and list. In addition, we have teamed up with the City of Spokane, Spokane County, and the City of Spokane Valley to produce the Spokane County Regional Road Construction Map. All these are available on our home page at: wsdot.wa.gov/Regions/Eastern . Look under the “Projects” list for the various links.


Go Orange-Work Zone Safety Awareness Week

April 23-27, 2012, orange isn’t just a color for the Washington State Department of Transportation, it’s a call to action.

WSDOT and other states across the nation “go orange” (www.wsdot.wa.gov/safety/brake)
each year during National Work Zone Safety Awareness Week, to remind motorists of the importance of driving safely through work zones, because blaze orange vest and traffic cones aren’t always enough. Since 1950, WSDOT has lost 59 employees in work zone-related activities.

Nearly 1,000 workers, drivers and passengers are injured in Washington’s highway work zones each year with rear-end collisions caused by inattentive driving cited as the most common cause. National studies show that four out of five work zone crashes result in injuries or worse to drivers and their passengers.

Again, please drive carefully and “Give ‘em a Brake” in construction zones.

(Special thanks to Alice Fiman at WSDOT HQ in Olympia for this story)

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Spokane Regional Transportation Management Center now 10 years old

It’s amazing how much can happen in ten years. In 2002 the Spokane Regional Transportation Management Center (SRTMC) was a traffic monitoring operation consisting of one desk, a few TV monitors, three employees and five traffic cameras.

Ten years later, the SRTMC is the nerve center for area transportation systems, using a state-of-the-art website, over 70 traffic cameras and a giant video wall to monitor and share area road conditions with the commuting public.

The SRTMC is a control center used to gather information from electronic sensors in pavement, live streaming cameras, signal systems, law officers on patrol, and highway crews. That information is then passed on to the public in an effort to keep drivers from being delayed by traffic congestion.

The SRTMC is funded by state, federal, and local funds paid in by partner agencies, including the Washington State Department of Transportation, the City of Spokane, City of Spokane Valley, Spokane County, Spokane Transit Authority and the Spokane Regional Transportation Council.

So what’s in store for the SRTMC in the next ten years? Additional live traffic cameras will go online this year, and the Idaho Transportation Department is working to add north Idaho traffic cameras to the SRTMC website due to the high number of commuters between Eastern Washington and north Idaho. Technology will also be further utilized in the future, such as working toward being able to collect traffic information from drivers’ smart phones and having traffic signal timing change depending on traffic conditions.

Until that happens, the best way to avoid congestion is to check out http://www.srtmc.org/ before you drive. You can also follow the SRTMC on Twitter at www.twitter.com/srtmc to get updates directly to your phone or computer.

(Special thanks to Staci Lehman at SRTC for this story.)

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WSDOT engineers publish findings in national magazine

An example of WSDOT Engineers striving for innovation and quality can be found in the April 2012 edition of Roads and Bridges magazine. WSDOT Eastern Region Materials Engineer Kevin Littleton, along with State Pavement Design Engineer Mark Russell, and State Pavement Engineer Jeff Uhlmeyer collaborated on an article detailing the use and positive results of a double layer chip seal on State Route 20 east of Colville. The project, implemented due to slippery surface, was completed in 2010 with Central Washington Asphalt of Moses Lake doing the work. Monitoring over a year-long period indicated that the new surface has performed well and should provide a long-lasting pavement.