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I-90 Snoqualmie Pass
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I-90 milestone reached, but I-976 looms over next phase

I-90 at Snoqualmie Pass. (WSDOT, Flickr Creative Commons)

Your drive between North Bend and Easton is going to be a lot smoother this winter, as the state has just wrapped up a decade’s worth of work east of Snoqualmie Pass on I-90.

Shoulder driving coming to I-90 – eventually

There really is no such thing as a construction season anymore. The state tries to keep working as often as it can, but the season’s still exist across the mountain passes.

The Washington Department of Transportation has shut down its construction on I-90 for the winter.

“Once we get to November, we usually shut down any construction that we have left because of the snow that is coming,” WSDOT’s Meagan Lott said. “We get about 30 feet of snow on Snoqualmie Pass, which pretty much prevents us from doing anything in the winter.”

WSDOT is shutting down after reaching a major milestone on the expansion and safety project east of Snoqualmie Pass. The first seven miles of the 15 mile expansion to Easton are officially over. It’s taken about a decade to move the freeway away from the cliffs, so avalanches don’t close the roadway.

The first wildlife bridge over I-90 was part of this project. So was widening the entire freeway.

“It’s a major undertaking, and we know it’s taken a long time,” Lott said. “We’re glad that drivers can actually enjoy the benefits of this first section.”

Construction on the next eight miles was supposed to start next summer, but Lott said that has hit a snag. That project has been put on hold by Gov. Jay Inslee because of I-976, which is projected to hurt state transportation funding should it be implemented.

An adventure over Snoqualmie Pass a.k.a. 12 miles in 90 minutes

“It’s a huge project that benefits our state because I-90 is the main east-west transportation corridor,” she said. “We really want to get this remaining section finished, but we’re kind of in this holding pattern until we hear more.”

The state has also made a lot of progress between North Bend and Snoqualmie Pass. Drivers suffered through a lot of construction in both directions of I-90 over the summer. Contractors replaced more than 2,200 concrete panels and repaired four bridge decks. That work will finish up next year.

The paving from Ellensburg to Vantage is also officially complete.

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