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North Central Region NewsBrief


February 5, 2016

In this issue:
• On the Road
• Connecting Washington Update
• Coordinating with Wenatchee
• Design/Construction Conference

On the Road

Deer along US 97A Deer along US 97A

Snow in the higher elevations with some melting and rain at lower elevations this week brought hundreds of deer down to accessible forage. The turnout (including Big Horn sheep) was heaviest between Entiat and Lake Chelan along US 97A where our maintenance crews picked up 22 carcasses over the last week. We have placed portable electronic message signs to alert drivers. 

PCMS - High Deer Kill 

Other area highways including US 2, 97 and SR 28 were also affected. Crews removed another 30 carcasses in a 15 mile radius of Wenatchee.

So, how much snow is there? On Thursday at Stevens Pass, the total for the season, thus far, is 292 inches (over 24 feet!). By comparison, on Feb. 4 for the last 10 years, the average season total has been 258 inches, so yesterday we were +113%. It’s interesting to note that a year ago the total was only 147 inches, the lowest over those 10 years, but the year before that, the total was 350 inches! The highest season total among the 10 was in 2008 with 410 inches (that’s 34 feet). (All the daily and yearly snow totals are available to everyone from the right column links on the Stevens Pass web page.)

Assisting the State Patrol, our electronic highway signs in the Wenatchee vicinity are carrying “Drive for Conditions” messages again to try to reduce the number of “speed too fast for conditions” collisions.

Icy patches can form quickly as the sun goes down, in shady spots, near a river or stream or on a bridge. Watch for ice and please slow down.

Connecting Washington Update

Construction sign

Governor Jay Inslee began a series of Connecting Washington Sign Dedication Ceremonies last month in Vancouver and Spokane to raise awareness of what the new gas tax is funding. This month he’s scheduled in Yakima (next Monday) and here in Wenatchee on February 26th.

During his Wenatchee visit, he will be featuring three of our region’s projects: US 2/SR 285 North Wenatchee Corridor Improvements (2021) and SR 28 East Wenatchee Corridor Improvements (2023).  He will also speak about a replacement building for our Region office to be located at Olds Station, freeing our N. Wenatchee Ave. site for other development. 

Planning is well underway on the facility.  Ultimately, it will combine our administration offices with our project engineering offices, replacing the “temporary” trailers purchased from WPPSS when their nuclear plant projects stopped back in 1984. 

35% design Preliminary design draft

We expect project requirements to be determined in March and bid proposals back from the Design/ Build contractors in May followed with a contract award by July. Design will start immediately. Construction will take all of 2017. We’re hoping to move in the Spring of 2018.

Coordinating with Wenatchee

We meet at least twice a year with staff from counties and cities in the region to learn about their projects and tell them about ours. It eliminates surprises and more often saves time, money and/or improves a design.

Wenatchee is the largest city in the region and is surrounded and bisected with state highways so we get together more often. This week’s quarterly meeting provided the opportunity to talk about their next roundabout (Cherry and Western) and our 2019 paver on Mission St. (similar to last summer’s Chelan St. paver). Discussions also included the Connecting Washington North Wenatchee Area Improvements project even though design work is four years away. There’s a lot of work that needs to be done before a shovel ever hits dirt.  

July 3 Sleepy Hollow fire damage Our Region Office back parking lot July 2nd.

We also learned about the redevelopment project of the properties destroyed by the Sleepy Hollow fire. Some are adjacent to our N. Wenatchee Ave. Region Office. Good meeting, no surprises, lots of opportunities.

Design/Construction Conference

Dan Sarles Me

You’ll never see a story about it in the paper, but this NewsBrief is an opportunity to peak behind the curtain. Engineering puts on a conference every year with staff to address current construction issues, new policies and initiatives, and new technology.

WSDOT’s Assistant Secretary for Engineering and Operations, Linea Laird came over from Olympia, in part to praise our staff for their “incredible work” (her words) on emergency repair projects in the wake of the last two summers of fires and floods and last month’s mammoth rockslide in US 2’s Pine Canyon. She also praised our region’s safety record (lowest injury rate statewide for the second year in a row). 
Linea Laird Asst. Secretary Linea Laird

Laird provided an update on the legislative session. She says I-405 and tolling are the hot button issues. She also shared examples of early successes with the department’s “Practical Solutions” initiative, an analysis of every aspect of a planned project aimed at reducing costs.
Through the day, updates were heard on roadway and structures design and materials, what’s coming next in bridge innovations and the latest on fish passages to replace culverts fish can’t swim through.
If you’re an engineer, it’s fascinating, even exciting stuff, if you’re not, be pleased that the people designing and building your roads and bridges are on the cutting edge.

Until next week,

Dan Sarles

Regional Administrator, WSDOT North Central Region

If you have any questions on items in this NewsBrief, or other transportation issues, please let me know. Call me at (509) 667-3001 or send me an e-mail at: