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US 97 - North Blewett Pass - Safety Improvements

Work began August 27, 2012
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These improvements are being built between MP 175-177 through the curvy, steep section of US 97 in the vicinity of Ruby Creek, about halfway between the Blewett Pass summit and the Big Y interchange with US 2.

Click to enlarge View entire photo - Before - Day 2 at MP 177.
Click to enlarge View entire photo  Optical speed bars like these on SR 20 west of the Loup Loup summit will encourage drivers to slow down entering steep curves in the vicinity of Ruby Creek.


Complete October 2012

Construction began August 27, 2012 and was complete October 25.

This I-2 Highway Capital Improvement Collision Prevention Safety Program project installs speed reduction features and concrete barrier on US 97 north of the Blewett Pass summit in Chelan County.

Why is WSDOT installing permanent signing, optical speed bars, and barrier?
This highway section on US 97 from milepost 175.50 to milepost 177.00 experiences a high number of crossover and run-off-the-road collisions. From 2006 to 2011, there were a total of 47 collisions resulting in two fatalities, and two serious injuries. This highway section has up to 6% grades and nine curves. The existing southbound passing/climbing lane starts at milepost 176.57 with a posted speed limit of 60 mph with a 40 mph advisory speed at the curves. The majority of the collisions resulted in citations for excessive speed.

This project installs Optical Speed Bars, additional permanent signing, updates existing signing, and installs concrete barrier to close openings between the current barriers at three locations: milepost 175.9 left, milepost 176.4 right, and milepost 176.2 left.

Optical speed bars are white stripes painted on the pavement from the fog line into the traffic lane. As the curve approaches, the stripes are painted closer together. This produces a feeling that the lane is narrowing and that one's speed is increasing, causing drivers to slow down.

The End Result
Signage and visual reinforcement to encourage slower speeds through the steep curves on this section of roadway.

Project Benefits

  • New and upgraded signage provides motorists with more and better information.
  • Optical speed bars reduce the potential for crossover and run-off-the-road collisions.
  • Improved barrier increases recovery potential for vehicles running off the roadway.

What is the project timeline?
Construction began August 27, 2012 and was complete in ten working days, On Oct. 25. (Work was delayed by late materials delivery and forest fire work suspensions.) 

Financial Information

Project signage will reflect the cost of construction engineering, project bid award and sales tax.

This project was advertised for private contractor bids on March 26, 2012. Four bids were opened on April 26. On April 30, Contract #8284 was awarded to Petersen Brothers Inc. for $111,909.43, 19% under the engineering estimate.

The total estimated cost for design and construction of all stages is approximately $175,000.  This is a federally funded project.

How can I get more information?
Kevin Waligorski Project Engineer
WSDOT North Central Region
2830 Euclid Ave
Wenatchee, WA 98807
Phone: (509) 667-2860 or toll free (888) 461-8816

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