CHOKEPOINTS

I-90, Snoqualmie Pass construction returns with lane-widening and expected traffic delays

Aug 11, 2022, 7:16 AM
lane...
I-90 - Snoqualmie Pass East (WSDOT)
(WSDOT)

We warned you this was coming earlier this year. The I-90 construction between North Bend and Ellensburg is back. Lane closures and long delays are in your future.

The orange cones are going up in several spots along that 80-mile stretch of I-90. The Washington Department of Transportation is working on multiple improvement projects along the corridor at the same time.

WSDOT assistant region administrator Brian White said the work includes widening the freeway through Easton, replacing concrete panels, and fixing bridge decks.

“We’re going to be doing about twelve bridge deck repairs,” he said. “These jobs are designed to fix the potholes in the deck so we have a better driving surface.”

All of those bridge projects are expected to start taking lanes this month. The lane closures could be at night. They could be during the day. If you’re driving between North Bend and Ellensburg, you can expect multiple construction zones on your trip, but White said they will try to keep the delays on the weekends minimal.

“If the lanes are shifted or there’s a car broken down on the side of the road, it just takes a few minutes, and traffic starts backing up,” he said.

The I-90 construction delays from a few years ago are back again

The biggest upcoming change for drivers will come around Easton. If you’ve driven up or down the Easton hill recently, you have seen work in the median and barriers going up.

This is where the state is adding a lane in each direction of I-90, but to do that all westbound traffic will be detoured into the eastbound lanes on the Easton hill. White said this was the best way to keep traffic flowing and keep workers safe.

“We’re hoping that’s going to speed things along for the traveling public and keep workers safe,” he said.

This configuration will be in place for several years as the new eastbound lanes are built. Rock blasting will return to the corridor next year, and so will work on the Vantage Bridge east of Ellensburg. That’s going to cause big delays across the Columbia River, but we can wait to talk specifics on that.

White said this work needs to get done, and drivers will need to plan ahead.

“I-90 has served us well over the years, but it’s time,” he said. “She needs some rehabilitation. It has more vehicles, more trucks, and the road is only designed to last so long. The time is now to start working on it.”

My best advice is to go very early or very late when traveling through this area to avoid the heaviest of the backups. Please watch your speeds in these construction zones, not only to keep the workers safe but to prevent accidents that will make the delays even worse.

My weekly drives to Montana begin in less than a month, so I will be able to give you first-hand updates on what the drive is like during the construction.

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I-90, Snoqualmie Pass construction returns with lane-widening and expected traffic delays