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New system will set priority for drivers traveling through a flooded Lewis County

Flooding closes State Route 12? It won't be a big deal now, as a system will be set in place to direct critical freight through Lewis County when it floods. (WSDOT Photo)

The next time floodwaters close I-5 in Lewis County, a new system should be in place to help move critical freight through along the best detour route.

The Washington State Department of Transportation is finishing work on a system that establishes freight priority.

“Instead of just saying it’s open for everybody, kind of a free-for-all, that would have backed up traffic significantly,” said Alice Fiman with the Washington State Department of Transportation

The priority for the routes will depend on what’s happening at the time. “We could need to transport food, or emergency supplies, life safety supplies up that route.”

If flooding forces a closure of I-5 in Lewis County, for example, the system would send truckers along alternative routes in three-hour increments, based on priority.

By December, Fiman said crews should finish installing cameras and electronic message boards along two key alternate routes, U.S. 12 and State Route 7.’s Alyssa Kleven contributed to this report.

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