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North Central Region Newsletter - May 2014

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May 9, 2014

Welcome to the May North Central Region WSDOT monthly newsletter. This issue includes avalanches, wet paint, a project update and safety.

If you would like to continue getting these newsletters, do nothing. If you want them to stop, simply “unsubscribe”- there’s a link to do that at the bottom of the email.

If you have any questions on items in this newsletter, or other transportation issues, please let me know. Call me at (509) 667-3001 or send me an e-mail at: sarlesd@wsdot.wa.gov 
 
Dan Sarles
Regional Administrator
WSDOT North Central Region

Monday morning after Easter we did avalanche control work on Stevens Pass. That’s not a record, but still weeks later than normal. It's been an interesting season – the crews have used more than 3,000 lbs. of explosives just since mid-February.
Our crews also completed the clearing effort to reopen SR 20-the North Cascades Highway at noon Thursday (May 9). We predicted mid-May, but the crew beat that estimate by a week to open in time for Winthrop's 49'er Days. Congratulations on a dangerous and difficult job well done.

While the reopening of the North Cascades gets lots of attention, many typically unnoticed things get accomplished by our maintenance crews every day. For example, the tattered flag on top of the Senator George Sellar Bridge was recently replaced. The size of that flag may surprise you. It is 10 feet high and 15 feet wide. Since 2000, the RiverView Kiwanis Club has been funding replacement of the bridge flags on both ends of Wenatchee. If you’ve ever wondered why the Sellar Bridge flag never gets lowered to half-staff, it cannot be, by regulation. The FAA gave special permission for that “lighted” flag which was put up during Desert Storm, to replace the aircraft safety beacon on top of the bridge. So the only time the flag can be lowered is while we’re replacing it with a new one.
 
You know spring is here when our striping crew begins freshening up the pavement markings which have worn off over the winter. That brings to mind the paint itself. Did you know small glass beads are applied to the paint while it is wet to give it the night time reflectively we all expect? The reflectively not only helps guide us but reduces night time accidents. You may be surprised to learn 65,000 gallons of water based paint and 450,000 lbs. of those tiny glass beads are used annually by WSDOT within the North Central Region alone. While water based paint is harder to remove from a vehicle, it is much more environmentally friendly than the oil based paint it replaced. (Be careful! Driving through freshly painted stripes can result in a citation from the State Patrol for $124.00.)
 
Here's a quick update on some region construction projects- starting with the roundabout being built in Mattawa at SR 243 and Road 24 SW. Roundabouts are not only safer, but reduce emissions because you're not idling while waiting for the light to change. The project should be substantially complete by Memorial Day. At about the same time the paving project on I-90 between George and the Vantage Bridge will be done.

Two more projects are underway. One in Moses Lake - pedestrian improvements at eight intersections on SR 171 (Broadway) and a second one in Omak and Okanogan where eight miles of SR 215 and SR 155 are being paved plus construction of several new ADA sidewalk ramps. The work on SR 171 will be done in June, but the completion target for SR 215 isn’t until Labor Day.

Our biggest-ever chip seal project continues with the prep-work on 238 miles of highway. The project is well underway and the chip sealing portion begins next week in Chelan County so please slow down to reduce flying rock and the potential to chip someone’s windshield.

One final item I'm pleased to share is our North Central Region safety record. While we have a ways to go to achieve our longer term goal of a “Recordable Injury Rate” of less than one (1) annually, NCR employee injuries were down again in 2013. Over the past four years, our employees have reduced injuries by 28%. Congratulations go to all of them for this focus, given the proximity to traffic and construction conditions many of them work under day in and day out.

Until next month,

Dan Sarles