FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Funding Extends I-90 Upgrade Through Cascades
Project includes the first wildlife overpass in Washington State
Today, the Governor signed the Transportation Funding bill that will keep the I-90 Snoqualmie Pass East Project moving forward and build an overpass for wildlife near Keechelus Dam.
Wildlife Overpass Planned
Today, Governor Christine Gregoire signed the Transportation Funding bill that will keep the I-90 Snoqualmie Pass East Project moving forward and build an overpass for wildlife near Keechelus Dam.
“This is a high priority project for our state, with dramatic benefits to safety, freight movement, recreation and wildlife connectivity,” said Charlie Raines, I-90 Wildlife Bridges Coalition Director. “This will build the first wildlife overpass in Washington State, which will stand as an icon not only for smart design of I-90 but for wildlife connectivity in the region.”
This project had bipartisan support, and strong push from both sides of the Cascades. House Transportation Committee Chair Judy Clibborn (D-Mercer Island) provided the leadership in the House, with support from Ranking Minority Member Mike Armstrong (R-Wenatchee), Bill Hinkle (R-Kittitas County) and several westside representatives. In the Senate, Ranking Minority Member Curtis King (R-Yakima) was instrumental in securing this provision, with support from Committee Chair Mary Margaret Haugen (D-Camano Island) and Vice Chair Scott White (D-Seattle).
A unique set of I-90 project supporters worked together during the legislative session including AAA, Conservation Northwest, Washington Potato Commission, Defenders of Wildlife, Kittitas County, Mountains to Sound Greenway, Central Washington University, and Sierra Club.
Jen Watkins of Conservation Northwest added, “This project had a broad base of support this session from economic to environmental interests, demonstrating the safety benefits for both drivers and animals.”
Using Savings to Build Next Phase
The I-90 Project began construction in 2009 after extensive public and environmental review. The design of the 15 mile project (from Hyak to Easton) includes increasing the highway to six lanes, expanding snowsheds, and incorporating fifteen wildlife crossing structures, mostly underpasses at creeks.
The competitive bidding environment brought contracts in below cost estimates. Project supporters wanted these savings to be used for additional construction in the corridor, rather than be reallocated to other projects.
In this bill, the Legislature directed the Washington Department of Transportation (WSDOT) to apply savings from Phase 1 of the I-90 Snoqualmie Pass East Project to future phases along the corridor from Hyak to Easton. $8 million from current savings will go for design of the next two miles, and any savings from the current contract bidding (Phase 1C) can be used to construct the next phase, which will include a truck chain-up area and the first wildlife overpass in the state. We will know the total amount of savings available when bids on Phase 1C are opened in June. WSDOT can now start the design of the next phase this summer and should be ready for construction in late 2012.
I-90 Snoqualmie Pass East Project Page: http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/projects/i90/snoqualmiepasseast/
I-90 Wildlife Bridges Coalition Legislative Request Page including information on the next phase to be designed and constructed with savings and letters of support. http://www.i90wildlifebridges.org/funding.htm
Karen Bonaudi, Washington Potato Commission
Asst. Executive Director
Dave Overstreet, AAA Washington
Public Affairs Director
(D) 425.467.7740 (T) 800.562.2582