wsdot logoCrews expect to open the highway in time for fishing season

WINTHROP – Crews expect to swing open the winter closure gates to State Route 20, the North Cascades Highway, at 11 a.m. Friday, April 22. That is a week earlier than predicted when the clearing work began on St. Patrick’s Day.

Washington State Department of Transportation crews began clearing the North Cascades Highway five weeks ago on March 17.

The mid-morning reopening allows the crew time to sweep the entire 37-mile winter closure zone for sand, rocks and debris, clear any snow from below avalanche chutes, and apply sand or deicer as needed.

By Wednesday the crews had cleared the last seven miles of highway separating at the end of week 4.  Warm temperatures sped the clearing and allowed for successful avalanche control to clear the chutes that still held snow so the highway can be safely opened.

“We all live up here and know it’s important for local businesses to have the highway open for the lowland fishing season and ‘49er Days Festival in Winthrop,” said Don Becker, WSDOT maintenance supervisor.

Last year it took crews only three weeks and it opened April 3. There was only one year, 1977, when the highway never closed, due to a drought.  The earliest opening was March 10, 2005.

For more information, including a history of opening and closing dates, maps, photos and progress reports on the 2016 opening, visit the North Cascades web page:

www.wsdot.wa.gov/traffic/passes/northcascades 

Most likely to succeed

peacekeeper

Today was a fishing day for kids at the juvenile ponds in Rock Island.

The pond was generously stocked with trout, some of them as large as 3-4 pounds.

The City of Rock Island and the event’s sponsors provided food and beverages for the kids and even fishing poles they could borrow. I brought our armored car to the lake and Douglas County Fire District #2 had a firetruck for the kids to look at. The Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife as also on scene to make sure things ran smoothly.

The kids got fire hats from the firefighters and I handed out Junior Deputy badges to the kids and internet safety booklets to the parents. It was a gorgeous day for the kids and community.

Very Respectfully,

Sheriff Harvey Gjesdal

wsdot logoMeetings scheduled in Ritzville, Moses Lake later this month

OLYMPIA –A request to increase speed limits on a roughly 100-mile stretch of Interstate 90 in eastern Washington is being considered and the Washington State Department of Transportation is asking for comments from interested citizens.

The proposed speed limit increase would be from the current 70 miles per hour to 75. The affected area is from the town of George, east to the western border of the Spokane County line.

A bill passed in the 2015 Legislature allows the Secretary of Transportation to increase the speed limit on any highway to a maximum 75 mph. Lawmakers in eastern Washington have asked Acting Secretary of Transportation Roger Millar to consider such an  increase on I-90. If an increase was approved, the limit would remain 60 mph for vehicles over 10,000 pounds or vehicles pulling trailers.

Since August, WSDOT has worked with the state Traffic Safety Commission and the Washington State Patrol to evaluate the I-90 request. The evaluation process included:

  • gathering information from other states that have raised speed limits
  • developing criteria to evaluate where and how speed limits might be raised
  • assessing the effects of an increase and identifying any needed highway feature modifications
  • examining how decisions about speed limit increases can take into account vehicle crash history, societal costs due to crashes, fuel costs and benefits associated with travel time savings.

Two meetings are scheduled later this month to provide information about the speed limit increase request and to take public comments. Comments can also be provided online.

Ritzville

4 to 7 p.m., Tuesday, April 19

Best Western Plus Bronco Inn, 105 W. Galbreath Way.

Moses Lake

11:30 a.m., Wednesday, April 20 – as part of a presentation to the Washington Transportation Commission

Moses Lake Civic Center, Council Chambers, 401 S. Balsam Street

Based on the results of the analysis, public comments and consultation with traffic safety partners, WSDOT will make a decision whether to raise the speed limit for this section of I-90. The decision is expected in May. If the limit is increased, it would become effective once new speed limit signs are posted.

Recruit firefighters completed the weekend firefighter fundamentals class this weekend where they learned about breathing apparatus, basic hose handling, and basic ladder operations. Recruit classes will continue over the next two months covering a variety of firefighting subjects.

Great job to all the recruits and a special thanks to our instructors, officers and driver/operators. Captain Lee Jones, Lt. Hal Jones , FF/EMT Justin Thorpe, FF Jon Mendoza, D/O Brian Thompson.

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Pictured above from left to right: Back row Thomas Ramella, Tim McCord, DO Brain Thompson, Lt. Hal Jones, FF Jon Mendoza, Andy Gavin, Karl Koester, Lt. Eric Sanderson

Front lower row: Patrick Micheal, Steve Garvich, Kevin Cox, Alexander Volfe, FF Justin Thorpe.

Not in the picture: Ben Laughlin, Vladimir Stepanov, Seth Williams, Capt. Lee Jones.