The Interstate 90/State Route 18 interchange is one of the busiest in the state. The interchange serves people who live in the area, in addition to freight haulers and cross-state travelers. Backups near the interchange are common during peak periods and busy travel weekends.
During afternoon peak commute hours, the exit lanes often back up onto 70mph I-90, causing multiple collisions in the area over the past few years.
To remedy this problem, the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) launched the I-90/SR 18 Interchange Improvement Project and initiated design work in 2017.
Completing this project was scheduled for 2023 but may now be delayed to 2024 due to workforce availability issues. Mike Cotten, WSDOT Regional Administrator, wrote in an email to the project Executive Advisory Group, “I know that communities are heavily invested in seeing this project to completion, and it’s understandable this is disappointing news.”
According to Mr. Cotten, “There is a significant revenue shortfall to the department due to reduced travel and gas tax stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result of the reduction in revenue, WSDOT took proactive steps earlier this year by implementing furloughs and a freeze for new employee hiring and consultant agreements. This has affected the I-90/SR 18 interchange project as WSDOT could not bring staff on board to assist in completing specialized tasks for environmental permitting and documentation.”
Snoqualmie Mayor Matt Larson stated (of the proposed delay), “While this news is disappointing, we are relieved to have completed the temporary westbound onramp this summer. This investment becomes all the more valuable given this delay.”
The dedicated on-ramp project’s investment was approximately $1.2 million, divided by a 50/50 match between WSDOT and the City of Snoqualmie with contributions from the Snoqualmie Tribe and the cities of Covington and Maple Valley. More information about the I-90/SR 18 Interchange Improvement Project is available on the WSDOT website.