US 12 - Nine Mile Hill to Frenchtown Vic - Build New Highway

Project news

  • Phase 7 property acquisition for right of way is currently underway.
  • Phase 7 will begin construction in early 2020.

Community engagement 

  • A public open house that focused on project updates for the US 12 corridor was held in Touchet on July 16, 2019. View the open house displays on Flickr. 
  • A public open house for the US 12 corridor was held in Touchet on March 15, 2018. View the open house display boards on Flickr.
  • A limited access hearing was held on July 11, 2017 in the Touchet School library.

Needs & benefits

Since 2003, WSDOT and the US Highway 12 Coalition have made significant progress toward four-laning US 12 from Snake River (near Burbank) to Walla Walla. after the 11-mile Phase 7 project is complete, approximately 10 miles of two-lane, undivided existing highway will remain west of Nine Mile Hill. Completing the US 12 corridor will benefit residents, businesses, and the traveling public through improved safety, capacity, and mobility. In addition, the regional transportation system between the Tri-Cities and Walla Walla will be able to better support the agricultural, viticultural, and other freight traffic critical to Eastern Washington's economic vitality. 

This project is funded by the 2015 Connecting Washington Transportation Revenue Package.

Why is WSDOT widening US 12?        
Since 1991, the corridor from SR 124 to Walla Walla has experienced over 1,000 crashes with over 500 injuries and over 20 fatalities. Nearly half of the fatalities are caused by vehicles crossing the centerline on the existing two lane highway. This corridor carries between 7,000 and 13,000 vehicles per day with up to 12 percent truck traffic. This high percentage of trucks impedes the flow of traffic and causes delays. Widening the corridor from a two-lane to four-lane divided highway will improve traffic flow and increase the corridor safety.

Project benefits include:

  • Increased safety. The proposed four-lane highway will increase safety by decreasing the number of intersections on US 12 while separating opposing traffic with a median. Intersections with local roads will allow safe access to and from the new roadway.
  • Freight mobility: Building a four-lane highway will ease conflicts between slow moving trucks and passenger vehicles.

This section of US 12 is located north of the communities of Touchet and Lowden. To maintain access to these communities, four connections will be constructed with local roads, listed west to east below:

  • Existing US 12 at the bottom of Nine Mile Hill
  • Touchet Road North
  • Woodward Canyon Road
  • Lower Dry Creek Road

An undercrossing will be constructed to maintain connectivity along Cummins Road. Six new bridges will be constructed to span the Touchet River, Touchet Floodway, and Dry Creek. A total of 14 new bridges and structures are planned for this project.

The end result
The US 12 - Nine Mile Hill to Frenchtown Vicinity Project (US 12 Phase 7) will construct a new section of US 12 north of Touchet and Lowden.


  • 2016: Design of the Phase 7 project began
  • Summer 2017: Access hearing and right of way footprint finalization occurred
  • 2018:
    • ​Open house held in March
    • Property appraisals completed
    • Property acquisition and negotiations began
    • Utility coordination and irrigation relocations began
  • Early 2019:
    • Property acquisition and negotiations ongoing
    • Utility relocations ongoing
  • Fall 2019: Phase 7 goes to contractors to bid
  • 2020 - 2023: Phase 7 construction
  • Summer 2023: New four-lane, divided highway planned to open


Financial Data for PIN 501210T, 501213X
Funding Source Amount ($ in thousands)
2003 Gas Tax (Nickel Funding) $0
2005 Gas Tax (TPA) $0
Pre-Existing Funds (PEF) $5,362
CWA $159,905
Total $165,267

The US Highway 12 Coalition secured federal funds in 2009 to begin the design of Phase 7, and in 2015 the Washington State Legislature provided the remaining funds as part of the Connecting Washington transportation funding package. 


Bob Hooker, P.E.
WSDOT SCR Design-Build Project Engineer
Design Project Engineer Office

WSDOT South Central Region
2809 Rudkin Rd.
Union Gap, WA 98903

thumbnail project map for US 12 - Nine Mile Hill to Frenchtown Vic - Build New Highway project