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North Central Region NewsBrief


August 19, 2016

In this issue:

o On the Road

o Behind the Curtain


o Follow-up File

On the Road

High Fire Danger

fire messages

Last August, we were a test region for utilizing our overhead electronic message signs to reach drivers with fire safety messages. The response was positive and with the high temperatures in the forecast, on Thursday we started that messaging again. They will run Thursday through Sunday from 4 to 8 pm until after labor day.  The first weekend's message is HIGH FIRE DANGER/DO NOT PARK IN TALL GRASS

Chip seal work continues Monday on US 97 south of Chelan Falls and then moves to US 97A from Tuesday through Thursday between Entiat and Wenatchee.

Check our Region Construction Update page for details on all the Region projects underway.


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Check next week’s I-90 blasting closure schedules & construction for Snoqualmie to Vantage.

Turnabout is fair play?

When we close Tumwater Canyon west of Leavenworth, the typical detour is Chelan County’s Chumstick Highway also known as SR 209 when it was a state highway. Tuesday Chelan County began a project on the Beaver Valley Road, south of Plain, detouring traffic to our US 2 through Tumwater Canyon. Their plan is to be done by Aug. 29, the first day of school.

Something you may not have known: Any local jurisdictions can detour traffic onto state highways at no charge. However, when WSDOT designates a local road as a detour, we are responsible for paying for any damage from the extra traffic.

Behind the Curtain

High Friction

During constructionHigh Friction treatement - afterHorseshoe Curve
During                         After

As part of the NCR Seal project underway, we’re using new procedures and new materials. Earlier this month we described the “cushion course” resurfacing of badly cracked sections of US 2 east of Waterville. 

Cushion Application1 lane at a timeCushion Course
Application                 One lane at a time

West of Waterville the horseshoe curve at the top of Pine Canyon has now been resurfaced with a special high friction seal treatment.

The contractor applied a high friction surface treatment which should result in fewer collisions.

High friction surfacing is a process attaching a sand-like aggregate to the roadway using industrial-strength glue. The end result is a grittier road surface, giving tires extra traction especially in wet weather. WSDOT has applied high friction surface treatments at other locations and seen up to an 80% reduction in crashes.

Intelligent Transportation System

We call it ITS. You know it better by its individual parts such as traffic cameras, highway advisory radios, electronic message signs and variable speed limit signs.

The list of desires is always larger than the budget. However over the next year, our region traffic office is planning to add more cameras, another bike/motorcycle detection system and maybe a new electronic message sign.

The first new camera is planned for US 2 at Peshastin. It would point west and provide a better way to monitor traffic back-ups on high volume travel weekends. Besides State and National Holidays, Leavenworth’s many events can double the number of weekends that qualify. Area residents might check cameras at the Big Y, Leavenworth and soon, Peshastin, and choose an alternate route if it fits with their destination. We will have the ability to remotely change the timing on the US 2 traffic lights to move more vehicles through, faster.

Our Region’s second traffic camera, Stevens Pass was first, was installed on Blewett Pass in 1999. Today we have 61 on-line. With no electricity or phone service at the top of the pass, it was a major undertaking to construct a building for a gas powered generator and the ITS electronics including a weather station and extend the WSDOT microwave relay system to it. That camera is on the north side of the summit and we’ve wanted one on the south side ever since. Thanks to 15+ years of new technology, a south summit camera has finally made the list.

A third camera is planned for SR 28B/Sunset Hwy. at 19th Street in East Wenatchee, to monitor traffic volume and vehicle types at different times of the day.

The 19th Street intersection is on another list as well. The intersection’s traffic light is now triggered by magnetic detection loops just behind the lane’s stop bars embedded in the pavement. Bicycles and some motorcycles aren’t made with very much steel and don’t always trigger the light. To improve the situation, a radar detection system will be installed to help bicyclists get across SR 28/Sunset. A similar system was recently installed at Aplets Way in Cashmere to get cyclists across Hwy. 2. (May 13 NewsBrief) You’ll know they’re there when you see the new signs: “Signal Detects Bikes - Wait for Green.” 

radar sensorbicyclist 

About three miles further north on Sunset at the intersection of US 2/97, Eastmont Ave. and SR 28, east of the Odabashian Bridge, we hope to fund installation of an overhead electronic Variable Message Sign for northbound drivers to alert them when an incident is restricting traffic on one side of the river, so they can choose to take the other route. The benefit of a permanent VMS is our Traffic Management Center can activate it via computer, shortly after being notified of the incident. Currently our maintenance crews must pull a trailer with its portable sign to the location and program it manually on the roadside, which can take an hour, depending on time of day and day of the week.

We’ll keep you in the loop over the coming months.


Winthrop Paver Open House

Wednesday night’s open house drew around three dozen residents. 29 signed in. Seven provided written feedback.

Most comments focused on the American’s with Disability Act (ADA) required sidewalk ramps. Concerns included loss of parking spaces, snow removal, maintenance costs as well as appearance and size.

Based on what we heard, the design team is going to look at improving the ramps. Currently, all the ramps have the same dimensions so they look similar. We’re now going to look at reducing the length of some of them so the footprint will be smaller.

The project is scheduled to go out for private contractor bids in October with a contract awarded in November and construction next spring.

Follow-up File

Back on January 11th a slope in Pine Canyon released thousands of tons of rock and debris on to Highway 2 that fouled traffic for weeks. 
Pine Canyon
When it reopened we knew more work would be needed for a long term solution. Now, eight months later, we expect to open private contractor bids on Sept. 8. The month-long job should get started and finished this fall. The project will scale off another 200 cubic yards of rock, install cable netting over 24,000 square feet of the slope, place 380 rock bolts, repave the half mile of highway with 70 tons of Asphalt and re-stripe it.

Be safe,

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:

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