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February 2013

From the Regional Administrator
Keith Metcalf

Welcome to our February 2013 newsletter. This month we talk about a new interchange, traffic information direct to your email, pothole reporting, a new traffic phase on Francis Avenue, and our new ferry on the move.
Don’t forget to plan ahead for your winter travels. For traffic and weather conditions, 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

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Next bridge construction phase brings traffic changes to Francis Avenue

On Monday, March 4th, beginning at 9 a.m., crews will restripe Francis from Market Street to the vicinity of Freya to facilitate work on the Francis Avenue Bridge Replacement project. This re-striping requires dry weather. When this is complete Francis will be one lane in each direction. As a result, drivers should expect congestion and possible delays on Francis Avenue and Market Street, especially during the morning and afternoon commute hours. In addition, motorists should be alert for flaggers directing traffic near the BNSF railway crossing. The flaggers may be in place during busy travel times to make sure westbound vehicles waiting for the traffic signal don’t block the nearby rail tracks. This traffic configuration will be in place for several months. Motorists may wish to seek alternate routes for time-sensitive travels, especially during peak traffic hours.

This traffic configuration was a planned phase as the bridge construction progressed. As the construction expands toward the roadway, the traffic lanes need to be adjusted to give the contractor room to work and to ensure safety for the traveling public.
The new 455 foot-long Francis Avenue Bridge replaces the old 160 foot structure enabling the highway lanes, rail tracks, and pedestrian/bike trail to pass under the structure. The new bridge should be open to traffic in late 2013 or early 2014.


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US 195/Cheney-Spokane Road Interchange

Highway construction season in the Spokane area swings into action next month as major work gets under way on the US 195/Cheney-Spokane Road Interchange.

Preliminary work on the $11 million Washington State Department of Transportation project began in February. Crews from Selland Construction of Wenatchee already started some preliminary grading work at the site.

When the project is complete in late 2013, drivers will use a “diamond” interchange instead of the existing at-grade intersection. Four new ramps will be linked by a bridge that spans the four-lane US 195, eliminating left turns that require drivers to cross the high-speed roadway.

An increasing number of commuters, shoppers, and residents have put pressure on the once-rural intersection. Today, cars and trucks, slowing to turn mix with highway traffic and vehicles crossing the median, creating conditions that require drivers to be on their highest alert.
The new interchange will ease congestion and make drivers’ decisions easier. But it would not have come to realization without the collaboration of supporters from many different levels.

The project is a result of residents, community leaders, and elected officials working together to get the needed funding to build the facility. The Washington Traffic Safety Commission, federal government, and WSDOT partnered to fund the project.

Area dignitaries and community members will gather at the construction site for a ceremonial groundbreaking on Thursday, March 14. The ceremony will be held at 11 a.m. at the site of the future northbound ramps.

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Traffic information to your phone or home computer

To help you “know before you go,” we’ve made it easier to get state highway traffic information for the Spokane area and the seven-county WSDOT Eastern Region directly to your home email or your cell phone.
The team at the Spokane Regional Transportation Management Center (SRTMC) keeps an eye on traffic around the region and now you can sign up to receive their up-to-the-minute messages about road conditions, traffic collisions, and construction to help plan your travels.

To get connected, 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 new updates are listed under the “Eastern Traffic” section and the “Eastern” section under Construction Reports. Just select the boxes for the updates you want to receive then click on the “submit” button. Messages are sent out as incidents occur or conditions change.

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Ferry vessel hits the road

Our new ferry vessel for the Columbia River Keller Route, the MV Sanpoil, is ready for its next journey. In very early March, the center section of the hull will be transported from the Foss Maritime boat yard in Rainier, Oregon to the final assembly facility in Grand Coulee, Washington. The center section is the largest component of the vessel, stretching 116 feet long and 22 feet wide. It will take five days to reach to assembly site, traveling only during overnight hours. The other smaller sections of the vessel will be moved over the next few weeks.

A temporary shelter has been constructed at the Crescent Bay launch facility on the shores of the Columbia River near Grand Coulee Dam. The vessel will be assembled over the next few months and should enter service in mid-summer, 2013.

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State highway pothole email

The mild winter this year has made perfect conditions for highway potholes. Rain or snow, coupled with overnight freezing temperatures and warmer days makes it easy for potholes to form, sometimes in the same location that may have been repaired the day before.

With hundreds of miles of roadway to cover, our crews may not catch every pothole, so here’s how drivers can help: If you see a pothole on a state highway in our seven-county region, send us an e-mail at: SpokaneWSDOTPothole@wsdot.wa.gov . Please be very specific about the location and send a photo if you like.

Our region handles all state highways in Spokane, Adams (east of US 395), Ferry, Lincoln, Pend Oreille, Stevens, and Whitman Counties. In Spokane County, that includes north Division Street, west Francis, most of Pines Road in Spokane Valley, and east Trent.