Our Northwest

Snow slides will delay I-90 traffic for two winters

Monday, November 24, 2014by  Jon Osterberg

Get used to delays crossing Snoqualmie Pass this winter. And next winter, as well.
   Interstate 90 was closed several times this past weekend because of snowfall and slides, and one vulnerable spot in particular will not go away: the former site of the Keechelus snowshed.
   Construction crews demolished the snowshed this past April as part of the massive project to widen I-90 between Hyak and the Easton Hill. The shed, built in 1950, protected I-90's westbound lanes from avalanches at an especially troublesome chute. With the shed gone, sliding snow now can block both directions of freeway traffic.
   Crews also must close I-90 when they conduct preventive avalanche control work.
   WSDOT says that by 2016, the first of two new overpasses will be completed, allowing snow to slide under the roadway and into Lake Keechelus. Both eastbound and westbound traffic will use the bridge, and the second overpass will open in 2018.
   Traffic delays are just another reason to pack winter essentials when crossing the mountains: food, water, warm clothing, blankets or a sleeping bag, and important medications.
(Photo courtesy WSDOT)

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