KITTITAS COUNTY NEWS RELEASE -- Kittitas County will begin improving the Kittitas Highway project earlier than originally planned. This is due to recent and unexpected changes in fiscal policy on federally funded transportation projects. On February 4, 2013, Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) notified Kittitas County that at least $1.4 million in federal transportation dollars must be ready to spend on the Kittitas Highway Safety Improvements federal project starting June 1, 2013, or the funds will be made available to other projects within the state.
To ensure the completion of this important project, Kittitas County is fast tracking this project by splitting the construction into two phases. The first phase of construction, beginning this summer, will include grinding and removing the old pavement surface, installing an engineered paving mat to minimize reflective cracking, and placing a new pavement overlay on the surface. The existing road shoulders will not be affected by this phase of work.
The second phase improvements will be started in 2014 after the environmental review and permit process for bridge replacement and roadway widening have been completed. The second phase will include the remaining improvements that will make the roadway safer for motorists and bicyclists.
The major features of the second phase are:
• Widening shoulders for bicycle lanes.
• Improving intersection radii to meet design standards.
• Increasing left turn storage at several intersections.
• Extending or replacing retaining walls, bridges and culverts.
• Adding parking lanes for law enforcement.
WSDOT manages the distribution of federal funds to city and county transportation projects throughout the state. They distribute in Kittitas County an average of $400,000 of federal transportation funds each year to be divided up for qualifying transportation projects. A portion of these funds has been allocated to the Kittitas Highway project over the past several years, totaling $2.1 million. This project became fully funded after receiving U.S. Senator Patty Murray’s support and getting placed in the 2009 and 2010 federal transportation budgets for a total of $2.28 million. Approximately $326,000 has been spent for surveying, engineering, and environmental permitting on this project, beginning in 2011.
More information on the schedule of activities for this paving project will be provided once a contractor has been awarded the work. When work does begin, please remember to slow down in the construction zone and give the equipment and workers plenty of space!