Construction will jam up your summer trip to Mount Rainier

Apr 25, 2023, 4:40 AM


A view of Mount Rainier is photographed from an Alaska Airlines flight flying at 25,000 feet on September 21, 2021, near Seattle, Washington. Mount Rainier, the tallest mountain in Washington State, is an active stratovolcano located 58 miles south and east of Seattle, and is part of the Cascade Volcanic Arc, a segment of the Pacific Ring of Fire. (Photo by George Rose/Getty Images)

(Photo by George Rose/Getty Images)

Who doesn’t love a summer trip to Mount Rainier? You might want a book to read along the way this summer because construction is going to make that trip extremely difficult.

That trip along State Route 7 to Mount Rainier is not going to be very fun.

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Starting Monday, three construction projects are being rolled into one between Spanaway and Eatonville, which will cause long delays. The construction zone is about six miles long between 267th Street East and State Route 702.

“This summer is going to be very, very busy where we’ll have paving as well as a fish barrier removal project,” the Washington Department of Transportation’s Doug Adamson said.

The three projects were rolled into one to save time and money.

“It’s like that band-aid,” Adamson said. “Do you pull it off really slowly, or do you rip it off? In this case, we’re combining the paving as well as these two fish barrier removal projects at the same time, or we would have had to come back over two separate construction seasons.”

The lane closures could come day or night for paving and will come with single-lane alternating traffic patterns. The fish passage work requires full closures of SR-7, and Adamson said they will build small detour roads to keep traffic moving.

“We actually have to physically remove the roadway at two locations within close proximity to each other, and we’ll build a temporary one-lane road around each site, which will be directing traffic on a single-lane road at each site through traffic signals,” Adamson said.

The signals will allow one-way access around those two culvert jobs. The speed limit will only be 25 miles an hour through the area. This combination of lane reductions and one-way bypass roads will remain until the end of the fall.

“They’ll initially see a lot of work zone signs sprouting up,” Adamson said. “They’ll begin to see the contractor crews bringing their heavy equipment in there, and luckily, we’ll be able to keep the roadway open for travelers through there, so there won’t be any total road closures.”

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Expect to see those bypass roads in use in mid to late May. It will take a few weeks to get them built. Adamson said you will need to plan those trips to Mount Rainier with this in mind.

“Situational awareness,” Adamson said. “I’m heading to Mount Rainier National Park. I have to meet my friends at 5 p.m. I better give myself a bit of extra time to go through there or potentially look at going through another state highway in the area and give them themselves the ability to get around it.”

Option A is likely heading over to Graham and taking State Route 161 into Eatonville, but that road cannot handle a lot of extra traffic. Option B would be taking State Route 507 to 8th Avenue South or Harts Lake Loop Road South all the way to SR-702 and joining SR-7 from there.

You could always choose the long way, taking Interstate 5 south to US 12.


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Construction will jam up your summer trip to Mount Rainier