Demolition of snowshed to cause traffic delays at Snoqualmie Pass

Demolition of snowshed to cause traffic delays at Snoqualmie Pass »Play Video
YAKIMA, Wash. -- I-90 is the main artery across Washington state.
Traffic can be slow going at times, especially on busy holiday weekends.

"It's absolutely frustrating," said Brooke Rodriquez. She's familiar with the drive over Snoqualmie Pass.

The state is years into a long-term overhaul of Snoqualmie Pass - with years to go. On tap this summer: taking out the snowshed. That begins Monday.

"The next few weeks are going to be kind of tough with traffic, because we are going to do some critical work," said Don Whitehouse, a state Department of Transportation regional administrator.

The snowshed has been in place since the Truman era. Demolition will go on around the clock for two weeks. One lane in each direction will be closed at times.

In its place, an avalanche bridge will go up. But that won't be ready until 2018. There will be no avalanche protection in the meantime.

"It will be a little scary this winter if we have to go over knowing there's nothing there," said Brooke.

But the state is also expanding lanes and says those added lanes will mitigate the current situation.

"It can't be any worse than what we have right now. We have avalanches that come down across that snowshed roof and dump right into the eastbound lanes of the highway," said Whitehouse. "And so it actually will be a little bit better without the shed because we'll have more room."

But delays of up to two hours may be expected in the meantime, beginning Monday with the teardown of the snowshed. Crews can then begin work on adding two additional lanes, hoping to open those in five years.

To avoid delays, it's advised to plan your trip for early morning or at night when there is a decrease in traffic.

With the lane closures, only 800 vehicles are expected to go through the pass each hour, compared to the normal count of 2,500.