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January 2013

From the Regional Administrator
Keith Metcalf

Welcome to our January 2013 newsletter. This month we highlight our upcoming construction season and dig into the subject of potholes. Don’t forget to plan ahead for your winter travels. For traffic and weather conditions, here’s a one-stop website for travel information: www.wsdot.wa.gov/winter .

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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2013 construction preview

The Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT), Eastern Region, has 24 projects that will be under construction during 2013 valued at about $70 million.

Several major projects in the Spokane area are on the list of work this year. First, there are two North Spokane Corridor (NSC) jobs scheduled during the year. The Francis Avenue Bridge Replacement project is already well underway. Following close behind is the BNSF Railway Realignment and Children of the Sun Trail Extension job. These are the first two projects in the south half of the NSC. These projects were made possible through savings from competitive bids and the award of a federal “TIGER” grant.

The US 195/Cheney-Spokane Road Interchange project is now under construction. This work replaces the existing, at-grade intersection, with a full “diamond” interchange. This will alleviate the cross-traffic and left-turn collision risk at that location, just to the southwest of downtown Spokane.

Pavement preservation is a very important component of the highway program. There will be four Hot Mix Asphalt paving projects in 2013. One long-awaited job is new asphalt paving on SR 291/Francis Avenue from Division Street to the vicinity of Lowell Road. The second half of that job is pavement repair and/or chip seal resurfacing from Lowell Road to the Spokane/Stevens County line. Paving will be underway on US 2 from Espanola Road to Interstate 90. That work goes through the City of Airway Heights. There is also asphalt paving on SR 27 in the Spokane Valley and on SR 21 in north Ferry County near the Canadian border.
The WSDOT Eastern Region continues with the highway “chip-seal” program on less-traveled highways. About 105 miles of rural roadways will receive a chip seal layer. This surface treatment extends the pavement life at a reduced cost.

There are a variety of other projects including electrical work along I-90, variable message sign replacement, drainage work, and more.
To look at more detailed information on the Eastern Region construction projects, or check weekly construction updates, see our web page at: www.wsdot.wa.gov/regions/Eastern .

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Potholes

Potholes are a result of the eastern Washington freeze/thaw cycle. They form from water seeping into small cracks in the aged pavement. And, of course, water expands when it freezes and makes the crack bigger. Add the constant pounding by cars and trucks and pretty soon the pavement weakens and comes apart. Now we have a pothole. Potholes can appear just about anywhere on short notice, so it’s important for drivers to pay close attention when they are driving. We even find weather-related holes on bridges.

Repairing a pothole is a tough challenge. Since hot asphalt is not available during the winter months, our crews use a “cold mix” asphalt product. The crews try to dry out the holes, then they place the mix and tamp it down. Usually, everything is fine; however, there is still a chance that water can get in between the new patch mix and the existing pavement. If that happens, the pothole reappears.

One highway that has a serious pothole issue is SR 291/Francis Avenue in Spokane, west of Division Street. The maintenance team will temporarily patch potholes in that section, but won't be making any other major pavement repairs. As noted above, we’ve been able to schedule Francis from Division to Lowell Road for asphalt paving this summer that will provide a longer-term solution.

For the most part, our crews try to keep up with the list of potholes that need to be repaired, but often they are pulled away for higher priority winter duties such as snowplowing. Drivers need to keep alert, watch out for potholes during their travels, and let us know if there are any that are particularly troublesome. Just call our main office at 509-324-6000 or email to gilsona@wsdot.wa.gov .