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County resurfacing project raises questions, gets answers

State and county join forces for transportation improvement projects

As part of continued efforts to increase efficiency and cut costs, the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) and Klickitat County are joining forces on several area transportation improvement projects, which are scheduled to begin construction in spring/summer 2003.

State Route (SR) enhancements include:

Resurfacing SR 141 from White Salmon to milepost 17.26 (north of BZ Corner)

Resurfacing the entire length of SR 141 Spur

Resurfacing SR 142 from SR 14 in Lyle to milepost 33.54 (near Goldendale)

Resurfacing US 197 from the Columbia River Bridge to SR 14

Various safety improvements

The county road enhancements include:

Resurfacing Oak Ridge Road from SR 141 to Rattlesnake Road

Widening and paving two miles of Rattlesnake Road

In October, WSDOT mailed out a special project alert newsletter to area residents regarding the resurfacing of these highways. As part of the newsletter, WSDOT requested input from the public regarding any questions or concerns they had about the project, and the response was impressive.

Follow up letters to all the people who sent in questions about the projects on the state routes have been sent out, but in an effort to provide this important information to all area residents, the following is a listing of the most frequently asked questions sent to WSDOT and the answers to those questions:

Why is WSDOT resurfacing what appears to be a perfectly good road now? Why use Bituminous Surface Treatment (BST) (chip seal)?

WSDOT monitors all the state highways. When a section of road nears the end of its projected service life it is resurfaced before the pavement fails. If we waited until the roadway deteriorated completely, the cost to fix it would increase substantially. Rural highways with low traffic volumes are resurfaced with BST as a cost saving measure.

Can you make sure the type of surfacing used doesn't glare on a dark rainy night?

Recent improvements in striping and pavement marking materials should create higher roadway visibility during nighttime driving and rainy weather.

Why not pave at night?

Construction work on highways is hazardous and paving at night is especially dangerous to the workers as well as the motoring public. Because of this, WSDOT generally does night paving only on multiple lane highways with high traffic volumes. Multi-lane highways have an extra lane to allow high volume traffic to continue moving and usually have street lighting.

Will you pave SR 141 and SR 141 Spur at the same time?

Paving SR 141 and SR 141 Spur at the same time will not be allowed.

Why not adjust paving times for commuter traffic?

The most efficient approach is to start paving operations at the earliest practical time of the day and utilize as much of the daylight hours as is possible. This way we can finish the project in a minimum number of days, reducing the construction cost and overall time spent in traffic.

Can traffic delays caused by pilot car and flagging operations be kept to a minimum? It seems as though the flag person is a long distance from the actual work area.

Single lane closures with pilot car and flagging will be used during paving operations. Some work will require flag persons stationed at intersections to guide vehicles entering the work zone. The contractor is required to keep traffic delays to a maximum of 20 minutes. WSDOT will make every effort to enforce this provision and try to keep the flagging stations as close to the paving operation as is safely possible.

Will speed limits in construction zones be enforced?

This project does not have a designated construction speed, however, the Washington State Patrol (WSP) has a commitment to WSDOT to enforce safe driving within the construction zone.

Why not widen, stripe, add guardrail and straighten the curves on SR 142 from Little Klickitat River Bridge to the top of Bowman Creek Grade?

The intent of this project is to preserve and maintain the integrity of the existing highway system. Widening this low accident/low traffic volume section of SR 142 would substantially increase the cost of this multi-route resurfacing project. There are many highways in need of improvement throughout the state, including SR 142. However, limited funding does not allow WSDOT to address these improvements at this time.

The driveway culvert pipes seem too short. Can you extend the pipes and square the ends?

Culvert pipes are slanted or "beveled" to match the slope. Matching the existing slopes has been found to actually be safer when driven over because a vehicle won't get snagged on the pipe.

For more information about the state's portion of this project, please call Chuck Ruhsenberger in the Columbia River Gorge Area Project Office in Vancouver toll-free at 1-866-279-0730.

For more information about the county's portion, please call Bjorn Hedges at the Klickitat County Public Works Department in Goldendale at 773-2371.



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