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January 2014

From the Regional Administrator
Keith Metcalf

Welcome to our January 2014 newsletter. This month we look at our winter so far, update our construction activity, and share a thank you letter.

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

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Winter update

Up until the morning of January 29th, this winter has been fairly mild in the Eastern Region. Although there has been a lack of snow to plow off the highways, our crews have been very busy with anti-icing activities.

Our recent weeks of temperature inversion, with the resulting fog and low clouds have not only frosted up the trees, but also iced up the roadway pavement, especially to the west of Spokane. Our crews are on their regular winter schedules giving us seven-day-per-week coverage. Our maintenance team members continue to patrol their highway sections, applying liquid and solid anti-ice chemical and sand where needed to try and counteract the freezing road conditions.

Even though we haven’t had to plow the roadways as often, our winter snow and ice expenditures still remain about average. Whether the truck plow/de-ice trucks are pushing snow or applying chemicals, the operating costs for fuel and labor doesn’t change much. One advantage of a milder winter is that our crews are able to keep up with some of their regular highway maintenance tasks such as guardrail repairs, sign work, and damaged marker replacement. Also, when we get into a spring freeze-thaw cycle, the crews will start trying to keep up with pothole repair.

As always, winter driving requires your full attention. Please slow down, don’t follow too closely, and let us know if you see a pothole that needs repair.

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Construction update

As usual, our construction activity has slowed for the winter months. Even though we are having a relatively mild winter, the weather can be unpredictable, so we suspend major work on the jobs until warmer temperatures return. Our contractors can complete some minor items on their projects during the winter if weather allows. Fencing is underway on the NSC/Francis Avenue project and some bridge pier footing concrete is being poured on the BNSF Realignment job. Earlier in January, there were some new signs installed on the US 195/Cheney-Spokane Interchange project.

Many of our 2014 construction projects have already been awarded to contractors. Pre-construction meetings will be held soon and we’ll get a better idea when work will start.

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Thanks from a driver

"Last Tuesday evening about 5:00 p.m. I had a blowout of my front left tire on my way back to Spokane from Kennewick. By the time I got the car safely to the edge of the road, all that was left was a bunch of shredded rubber.

This occurred about 10 miles south of Ritzville. l'll be 88 next month, but after a little thought I decided I could change the wheel. I got the little spare out of the trunk (never had it out since it was born in 2005) and started to take the wheel off.

Just then two trucks of the Dept. of Transportation stopped. They suggested I get out of the way and they would change the wheel.
I thanked the 2 Transportation guys and offered to pay them but all they said was, "no, it's just part of the job."

It sure gave me a good feeling about the help that everybody gave me."

Bob W., Spokane