Just three months after the Washington State Department of Transportation announced eastbound I-90 milepost 34 was its preferred spot to relocate the I-90/SR 18 interchange truck weigh station, it appears the state has changed course – a move that has left North Bend City officials ecstatic.
North Bend had been vocally opposed to the Truck Town weigh station location from the get-go, citing environmental, noise and traffic issues in the already busy area.
North Bend had requested the state separate the new eastbound weigh station from the 90/18 interchange improvement project and locate it west of Cle Elum near the existing, large westbound I-90 weigh station. The city felt this site would allow for a larger weigh and inspection station than was possible at the proposed North Bend location.
This week it appears North Bend was heard by the state.
North Bend City Administrator Mark Rigos said the city is very grateful to 5th District Senator Mark Mullet who was instrumental in finding a solution that appears to be a middle ground for stakeholders.
Senator Mullet said the weigh station relocation will become a separate project, with about $28 million from the interchange improvement project dedicated to it. He said WSDOT will continue analyzing the option of locating the station near Cle Elum and the project could require additional funding.
But what about all those cited benefits of having the weigh station near North Bend – like inspecting trucks before they go over Snoqualmie Pass, using it as a chain up spot and having a dedicated Washington State Patrol detachment there?
According to Mark Rigos, the state is considering a mini WSP detachment office near Truck Town and adding a ‘weigh in motion’ lane along I-90 between the 90/18 interchange and milepost 31. The lane would weigh trucks as they drive and alert troopers of violations. Overweight trucks could then be stopped before passing Truck Town.
Rigos said the state is also considering installing a dedicated chain up spot along eastbound I-90 at milepost 41.5. He said this chain up location makes more sense than milepost 34 since it is at a higher elevation and more often where the snow starts.
With the weigh station relocation separated from the interchange improvement project and $28 million of budget transferred to it, WSDOT was able to finalize its preferred 90/18 design alternative as it works toward putting the project out for bid.
During project environmental planning, it was determined multiple culverts will be needed to mitigate impact on fish. Those costs are estimated to be about $14 million and also impact the interchange project budget.
Even with weigh station and culvert costs, WSDOT’s preferred project plan includes widening SR 18 to four lanes up to the Raging River, increasing westbound SR 18 to two lanes up to Deep Creek and turning the 90/18 interchange into a Diverging Diamond Interchange.
WSDOT will also install a dedicated on-ramp to westbound I-90 from Snoqualmie Parkway that will likely be in place during the entire interchange project. The new on-ramp lane is estimated to be installed by the end of the year and when completed the westbound on-ramp to I-90 from SR 18 will be metered.
The state estimates the 90/18 interchange improvement project will be completed some time in 2023.