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September 2013

Welcome to our September 2013 newsletter. Keith Metcalf is on temporary assignment in Olympia with Mike Gribner as acting Regional Administrator.

This month we talk about the Liberty Lake roundabout, upcoming winter activities, and a note from a customer.

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: gribnem@wsdot.wa.gov .

Mike Gribner
Acting Regional Administrator
WSDOT Eastern Region

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Roundabout in Liberty Lake set to be completed soon.

Those long waits are almost over. The new roundabout on Harvard Road just north of Interstate 90 is almost complete. Drivers getting on and off I-90 or in and out of Liberty Lake should find their travel times back to normal within another week or so.

“We would like to thank drivers for their patience and flexibility during this short construction project,” said Darrel McCallum, WSDOT project engineer. “The roundabout should smooth out traffic flow at this busy location.”

With increased development in the booming Liberty Lake community, the intersection of Harvard Road, the westbound I-90 off ramp, and Mission Avenue had drivers sitting through long delays waiting for a gap. The roundabout will benefit this busy intersection by eliminating the long queues that often frustrated motorists trying to get off the freeway or to the numerous businesses on Mission Avenue.

Roundabouts offer a few advantages for intersection traffic control over a signal system or stop signs:

• Low travel speeds – Drivers must slow down and yield to traffic before entering a roundabout. Travel speeds in a roundabout are typically between 15 and 20 miles per hour.
 
• No light to beat – Roundabouts are designed to promote a continuous, circular flow of traffic. Drivers need only yield to traffic before entering a roundabout; if there is no traffic in the roundabout, drivers are not required to stop. Because traffic is constantly flowing through the intersection, drivers don't have the incentive to speed up to try and "beat the light," like they might at a traditional intersection.
 
• One-way travel – Roads entering a roundabout are gently curved to direct drivers into the intersection and help them travel counterclockwise around the roundabout.

Drivers who are unfamiliar with roundabouts can learn more about them on the WSDOT YouTube channel.

A short “Celebration of Progress” ceremony is planned for Friday, October 25th at 11 a.m. to mark the completion of the project.

Event details:  11 a.m. Friday, Oct. 25
Northwest corner of Harvard Road and Mission Avenue in Liberty Lake.
(Carpooling to the event is strongly encouraged as parking is extremely limited.)

The Washington State Department of Transportation administered the design and construction of this project for the City of Liberty Lake. The Wm. Winkler Company of Newman Lake, WA is the prime contractor on this $1.5 million project. The project was funded by Federal dollars and the City of Liberty Lake.

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WSDOT crews readying for winter road duties

With winter just around the corner, crews from the Washington State Department of Transportation, Eastern Region, are getting prepared to handle snow and ice control duties. About 200 crew members working two shifts, seven days per week are assigned to the 1,600 miles of state highways in the seven northeastern counties in the state, including Washington’s highest mountain pass - Sherman Pass at 5,575 feet above sea level. The Region snow and ice control cost is about $13.7 million for the two-year budget cycle.

Snow and ice control crews and equipment are based at 20 locations throughout the Region. The crews use nearly 100 truck-mounted snowplows, most of which include a system to spread sand or granular de-ice chemical. The Region also operates 14 liquid anti-ice chemical trucks. When the big snowfalls are combined with high winds, three highway snow blowers are put into service to clear drifts. During our winter shift schedule, which starts in mid to late November, maintenance teams are normally on duty from around 4:00 a.m. to midnight or later. The exact hours of each shift will vary slightly at different locations. If needed during a storm, shifts are extended to provide 24 hour coverage.

Ultimately, drivers are responsible to operate their vehicles in a safe manner during winter road conditions. Most winter collisions result from drivers traveling too fast for conditions or following too closely. This is especially important during the morning hours. It takes our crews about four hours to make the first pass over the full 1,600-mile network each day.

Our highway network is divided into sections and winter snow and ice control is based on our treatment goals (see internet link below). Highways with higher traffic volume, such as Interstate 90, have more frequent treatments than low volume highways in rural areas.

Our crews make every effort to keep the highways open for travel, but weather is always unpredictable so drivers should be prepared for wintery driving conditions at all times.

We have some resources for winter driving online. Just follow these handy links:

WSDOT Snow and Ice Plan Roadway Treatment Goals

Winter Driving web page

Winter Driving Guide brochure (pdf 977 kb)

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A happy highway user

We like to share good news notes from highway users. Here’s one from Wayne:

“Good People,

Two things, both good. First I am impressed by the lack of inconvenience caused by the resurfacing of highway 291. Secondly, I sure appreciate the clean and functional rest stops you maintain. And the trailer dump stations are a real blessing.

Thanks for your work. Wayne”

Thanks, Wayne. We’ll pass this on to the engineering crew on the SR 291 job and the maintenance crews that handle the rest areas.