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December 2013

From the Regional Administrator
Keith Metcalf 

Welcome to our December 2013 newsletter. This month we take a look at upcoming highway construction in 2014 and our employee food drive.

Don’t forget to plan ahead for your winter travels. Here’s a one-stop website for travel conditions: www.wsdot.wa.gov/winter .

As always, 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
WSDOT Eastern Region

 

2014 Highway construction

Our preliminary lineup of 2014 highway construction projects is now available. We have posted a list of projects and a locator map on our website. It’s preliminary and subject to changes that may come out of the upcoming legislative session.

There are three major projects that are continuing from 2013—the NSC/Francis Avenue Bridge replacement, NSC/Rail Realignment project, and the US 195/Cheney-Spokane Road Interchange work.

Major asphalt paving work next year includes three projects on Interstate 90, paving on two sections of US 2, and resurfacing on SR 904. The list includes chip-sealing on 127 miles of two lane highways, lighting upgrades on I-90, some rail crossing upgrades, and new traffic cameras on US 195.

You can view the list and map on our web page at www.wsdot.wa.gov/regions/eastern then click on the 2014 Eastern Region Construction project List & Map link.

 

2013 Food Drive

Once again, WSDOT Eastern Region employees have shown their true holiday spirit with outstanding support for this year’s fund-raising drive to support community food banks in the area. Our Colfax crew even partnered with the local Washington State Patrol detachment to make this a multi-agency effort.

This year, the grand total for the entire food drive was $14,440 in cash, plus 1,605 lbs. of food (nearly 1,300 lbs. of that total was donated by the Colfax WSDOT/WSP group).

Employees could direct their cash or food donation to their choice of local food banks. The majority went to Second Harvest of the Inland Northwest, the umbrella food distributor for area food banks. Other food banks and agencies included Spokane Valley Partners, North County Food Pantry, LaCrosse Food Bank, Colfax Food Bank, Medical Lake Food Bank, Post Falls Food Bank, Our Place Food Bank, and the Union Gospel Mission, the area’s largest shelter.

The annual food drive is a Region tradition since 2006 and the big winners are the food banks and their clients. In just seven years, WSDOT Eastern Region employees (plus the Colfax WSP) have donated a total of $78,883.88 and 24,945 lbs. of non-perishable food.

Colfax 2013 food drive
WSDOT and WSP teamed up in Colfax to help the local food bank.


Winter driving-Know before you go

We talked about this last month, but as a reminder— with the winter travel season underway, here’s how to get the latest highway condition information. As always, we provide “lowland” winter road condition reports for the major highway segments in our section of eastern Washington, the seven northeastern counties north of the Snake River and east of Moses Lake. These reports are now available on your laptop, tablet device, or cell phone.

Those highways include Interstate 90, US 2, US 195, US 395, SR 26, and SR 291. These highways are the heaviest traveled in our area and were selected as representative of the general non-mountain pass road conditions in each part of the region. We report closures or major restrictions, such as drifting, if and when they occur on all state highways.

The road reports come from our maintenance personnel as they travel their sections throughout their work shifts. The reports are called in to our Spokane Regional Transportation Management Center (SRTMC) in Spokane where they are posted on the WSDOT Traffic alerts web page and the 5-1-1 telephone information service as conditions change. We update this information at least twice per day.

To access road conditions on your personal computer or tablet, go to: www.wsdot.com/traffic/trafficalerts/Eastern.aspx This brings you a closer view of information in our part of the state. The list on the right side of the page contains the highest priority items in our segment of eastern Washington. (Just going to the main Travel alerts page is a full statewide view and the major freeways in Puget Sound show up as the highest priority.)

To get connected to alerts on your smart phone, go to our website at: http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/ and click on the “Email/Text updates” link in the upper right corner of the page. When you open the link, you can set up an account for your email address or wireless phone. Once you’ve done that, hit the “Go” button and you’ll see a full menu of all the updates you can subscribe to. The updates are listed under the “Eastern Traffic” section. Just click the box for the updates you want to receive then click on the “submit” button at the very bottom of the full list. Some of the reports are updated several times per day and as incidents occur. Be aware that you may receive more alerts as the season gets busier and conditions change.

Spokane Area and Keller ferry updates are also available on Twitter by following @srtmc or via Facebook by searching for and friending “Spokane Traffic.”

We encourage drivers to make informed decisions as they plan their travels. Keeping up on weather conditions in your area prior to traveling is critical. For example, if snow and a southwest wind are in the forecast, there’s a very good chance that there can be drifting and visibility issues on highways in the Palouse such as US 195 and SR 27. Freezing rain is a sure sign that the highways will be very slick, requiring a slower speed and longer commute. Always allow plenty of extra time for winter travel and carry proper equipment such as chains, a shovel and some basic survival equipment such as food and water. Always have a full tank of fuel during the winter months when traveling on rural highways in eastern Washington.

Complete winter driving information and tips are on the Winter Travel page. Pass conditions are available on the Mountain Passes web page.