- Briefing Room
U.S. Department of Transportation
Federal Highway Administration
1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
Washington, DC 20590
February 2-3 served as a weekend of festivities in Seattle bidding farewell to the Alaskan Way Viaduct (AWV) and the grand opening of the SR 99 tunnel. Approximately 100,000 people turned out for the weekend’s activities that included a fun run, bike ride, art festival, performances, exhibits, walks in the new SR 99 tunnel, walks along the AWV and Battery Street Tunnel and a ribbon-cutting ceremony. Speakers at the ribbon-cutting included the FHWA Division Administrator, Dan Mathis, Washington Governor Jay Inslee, WSDOT Secretary Millar, and other dignitaries. The event drew widespread media coverage. The tunnel opened to traffic just after 11 p.m. Sunday, February 3. FHWA provided a major project engineer on the program of projects from the mid-2000s through 2017, as well as $787 million in funding.
A new Statewide Section 106 Programmatic Agreement (PA) was executed on December 4, 2018. This agreement supersedes the Second Amended PA signed in August of 2012 and includes FHWA’s Western Federal Lands Highway Division (WFLHD) and the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) projects. The new PA, like the three previous versions, exempts projects unlikely to impact cultural resources from Section 106 consultation, and outlines roles and responsibilities for Section 106 consultations when they are required. The PA was signed by the FHWA Washington Division, the Washington State Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation, WSDOT, and the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP), Federal Transit Administration (FTA) and the Western Federal Lands Highway Division (WFLHD). This agreement was based on the new template developed by FHWA HQ and ACHP. Unlike previous versions, it was also signed by the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) and the Western Federal Lands Highway Division (WFLHD). The new agreement covers FTA projects involving WSDOT in Washington State, including many Washington State Ferries projects. It also covers WFLHD projects in Washington State. Exemptions from Section 106 under the PA require the involvement of a WSDOT or WFLHD cultural resources specialist. Tribal governments in Washington State and those in adjoining states with interest in Washington State were consulted during the development of this version of the PA. Projects exempted under the PA are posted on the WSDOT website and Tribes can subscribe to notices about updates to the listings of exempted projects. WFLHD will maintain their own system for notifying tribal governments of exceptions. This agreement was based on the new template developed by FHWA HQ and ACHP.
On Friday, February 22nd, the Washington Division Office signed the quitclaim deed transferring approximately one-half acre of property from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the U.S. Department of Commerce (USDOC) to the Washington State DOT (WSDOT) for the relocation of a public trail on the State Route (SR) 520 widening and reconstruction project in Seattle. This transfer, which has been in development between NOAA/USDOC, WSDOT, and FHWA for nearly a decade, is a critical piece of the upcoming Montlake Project, a phase of the larger SR-520, I-5 to Medina project. Considerable work went into the crafting of the quitclaim deed and an associated agreement between NOAA/USDOC and WSDOT addressing project impacts to NOAA’s Research Center. Both the form and the terms of the deed came out of an extensive collaborative effort involving attorneys and right-of-way staff from all the parties to this transfer. With the construction of the Montlake project, the only remaining section of the SR-520 project is the “Rest of the West” segment from Portage Bay west to I-5.
Environmental Approvals = 22 (Documented CEs, Endangered Species Act, 4(f), 106, etc.) for various projects throughout the state
Design Approvals = 19 (Basis of Design, Design Analysis, Project Development Approval, Methods & Assumptions, etc.) for various projects throughout the state
Interchange Justification Report Approvals = One for SR 18/I-90 Interchange
Financial Plan Update Approvals = One for the SR 520 “Rest of the West” program
Miscellaneous Construction Approvals = Five (Concur in Award, 2nd Notice to Proceed, Buy America, Final Acceptance) for various projects throughout the state
Change Order Approvals = Six: five approved for the Alaskan Way Viaduct (AWV) Tunnel Replacement project and one for City of Spokane’s Post St. Bridge Replacement Progressive Design-Build project
State Route 99 Tunnel Emergency Exercise. FHWA Washington Division staff joined WSDOT, Seattle DOT, Seattle Police, and Seattle Fire, for a full emergency exercise on September 27 in anticipation of the new SR 99 tunnel opening. The purpose of this activity was to exercise SR 99 tunnel transportation, first responder, emergency management, and private sector stakeholders to evaluate and improve agency specific and collective emergency response plans, procedures, and capabilities prior to commencing tunnel operations.
Practical Solutions Roundtable Presentation. On October 1, Division Administrator Dan Mathis presented FHWA’s practical solutions efforts to WSDOT’s Practical Solutions October Roundtable. Mathis presented FHWA’s and the Washington Division’s efforts over the years to streamline project delivery and lighten the federal touch.
In-Situ Bridge Scour Testing Interest. On October 15, FHWA Resource Center Geotechnical Engineers met with the WSDOT Geotechnical and Bridge Offices to discuss WSDOT’s possible selection as a participation in the In-Situ Testing Device (ISTD) demonstration for bridge scour. FHWA provided information on the site criteria need for selecting a site to collect the soil samples with this innovative device. The discussion also included information about the equipment and person-power needed of the state to assist with the scope of the demonstration. ISTD technology fits the new FHWA scour design vision to determine scour depths by accounting for the erosion resistance of different soil types and comparing them to the erosion forces which may reduce the depth of estimated scour and the cost of bridge foundations. WSDOT is going to provide several site possibilities to FHWA for consideration as a demonstration site with a tentative date of the demonstration to take place in May 2019.
Federal Way Peer Exchange. On November 14-15, FHWA and FTA hosted a Transportation Planning Capacity Building Program Peer Exchange for the City of Federal Way. Peers from Rancho Cordova, California, and Lone Tree, Colorado, joined local peers from Shoreline and Bellevue. The main focus of the two days was how cities can achieve their goals for density, walkability, and economic development through promoting transit-oriented development. Participants in the peer exchange included local and HQ FHWA and FTA staff, MPO staff, Sound Transit, WSDOT, US DOT’s Volpe Center, and Federal Way staff and consultants.
WSDOT Hosts Roadway Data Integration Peer Exchange. WSDOT hosted a Roadway Data Integration Peer Exchange on November 14 and 15, in Olympia. Data-driven decision-making is an approach to business governance or operations which values decisions that are supported with verifiable data. The success of the data-driven approach relies on the quality of the data gathered, the integration and effectiveness of multiple data sources, and the effectiveness of analyzing and interpreting data. Participating states included: Alabama, California, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, North Carolina, Ohio, Utah, Oregon, and Washington with over 60 in attendance. The peer exchange included an executive session for WSDOT leadership, which helped leaders understand the importance and benefits of data. The FHWA Offices of Safety and Planning sponsored the peer exchange.
On Tuesday, December 18, 2018, the FHWA Washington Division approved a $5,000,000 USDOT FASTLANE Grant for the City of Tukwila, south of Seattle. The project will construct a missing link on Strander Boulevard between Naches Avenue and the Tukwila Sounder Station. This new roadway will be a grade separated crossing under a regional freight rail line. Other project elements include turn lanes, a shared use path for pedestrians and bicyclists, sidewalks, storm drainage facilities, and water quality/detention facilities. This project will provide a needed connection to the existing Tukwila Sounder Station and will provide new roadway capacity for the City of Tukwila. This station serves Amtrak for regional and national trips and the Sounder Train for commuter trips to Seattle. Additional project refinements will be done through value engineering in 2019 and the project is scheduled to be complete in late 2021.
Construction recently started on the Interstate 5 Marvin Road Interchange in Lacey, Washington, which will become the first diverging diamond interchange in the state. The City of Lacey is growing rapidly on both sides of I-5, and the most effective method to accommodate that growth for the foreseeable future is to revise the interchange from a conventional tight diamond to a diverging diamond. The idea of a diverging diamond was suggested by the Division early in Lacey’s project planning process, but an urban interchange was originally moved forward as the preferred type of interchange. During a value engineering session, the diverging diamond interchange was revisited and upon evaluation was found to be the solution providing the best value for the interchange revision. The Division office has also been instrumental in assuring the Interstate main line performance was improved even though there are no federal funds in the project. Construction of the interchange will be done predominately at night to reduce the impact to users, and construction is scheduled to be complete in late 2020. For more information including a virtual drive through of the interchange, visit www.I5exit111.com.
FHWA’s Every Day Counts (EDC) 5 Summit was held in Portland, Oregon on November 8-9, 2018. The Summit kicked-off the fifth round of innovations under EDC. Coming out of the summit’s state caucus, Washington State participants expressed interest in moving forward with the following six innovations: Advanced Geotechnical Exploration Methods; Collaborative Hydraulics: Advancing to the Next Generation of Engineering (CHANGE); Reducing Rural Roadway Departures; Safe Transportation for Every Pedestrian (STEP); Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS); and Virtual Public Involvement. The Washington Division and WSDOT will have further discussions and we formally submitted WSDOT’s commitment to implement EDC-5 innovations in January 2019.
A ribbon-cutting ceremony for an Emergency Relief (ER) project that replaced the Chamber Way Bridge over I-5 in Chehalis (20 miles south of Olympia) was held on November 1, 2018, and attended by members of the Washington Division Office. In his remarks, Washington State DOT (WSDOT) Secretary Millar lauded the Division for its rapid response and flexibility in this emergency. On July 22, 2016, an unpermitted, over-height load truck hauling a pair of excavators struck a portion of the Chamber Way overpass, causing significant structural damage. The damage resulted in the entire span having to be removed immediately for the safety of southbound I-5 drivers. The structure, with a 14-foot 8-inch vertical clearance, had been hit nine times in the last 10 years. The Division approved the site eligible for ER funds to help WSDOT with the cost of the temporary span and the costs needed for a permanent replacement span. The Division supported WSDOT’s determination that replacing the entire bridge was the most resilient, cost, and time beneficial solution. The $10.9 million project included $4.8 million of FHWA’s ER funds and only took 15 months to construct. The new bridge has a standard vertical clearance of 16.5 feet over NB and SB I-5.
What was unique about this situation was replacing the span was a component of a larger project in Washington State’s 2015 “Connecting Washington” transportation package as an interchange replacement project planned for 2025. Working with WSDOT, the Division identified using ER funding as a match so WSDOT could work with local officials and the state legislature to advance the bridge replacement portion of the future project. This proposal was safer, increased mobility, saved time and money, and eliminated the use of a temporary detour bridge, as well as a permanent span that would be in place less than 10 years (minimizing throwaway work).
|For more information contact:|
FHWA Washington Division
Program Management Analyst
FHWA Oregon/Washington Division