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Highway widening project rolls along

Although drivers may have noticed delays on Highway 20 south of Oak Harbor and less than ideal conditions, the Sidney Street to Scenic Heights Road Widening Project is proceeding according to schedule and sailing is smooth.

The contractor, G.G. Excavation, Inc. of Anacortes, scheduled the work to go from the southwest to the northeast, which is why they started just south of Sidney Street and have been working their way north.

The project will be complete when work reaches Scenic Heights Road and the top lift of asphalt is paved. The final overlay of asphalt pavement will likely occur in September, covering all locations called to pave for the entire project.

“Our contractor is currently on schedule with the project and we are pleased with the quality of work they are performing,” said Dave Chesson, Washington State Department of Transportation spokesman.

The project can be divided in two parts — Monroe Landing south and north of Monroe Landing. Contractors are currently working towards finishing the former half. Chesson said he anticipates the first half will be completed in early to mid-July and the north half portion will begin in the third week of July.

“We appreciate the continued patience of drivers as we work through some difficult areas on this project,” he said. “As with any highway project there will be some delays, but we are doing everything we can to keep traffic moving safely through the work zone.”

Next week the contractor should finish a bulk of the work south of Monroe Landing and will begin the realignment of Highway 20 at the road, effectively reducing the sharp curve. Most of the work will be done off the roadway, meaning no additional delays for drivers in that area for roughly two weeks. When the new section is tied in, the contractor will have to narrow or close a lane.

Chesson said finishing most of the work at Monroe Landing and to the south is a major milestone that will signal the halfway point of the project. Finishing the realignment work near Hastie Lake Road will feel like a great accomplishment because of the challenges it has presented with regard to changes in alignment: straightening and flattening the roadway, managed traffic control and contending with poor soil conditions.

“We never want to have traffic drive off the paved roadway, but sometimes, and this was one of those times, it was necessary,” Chesson said. “The alignment change was like a ‘perfect storm.’ We reduced the height and curve of the roadway, and when combined with other constraints, like right-of-way, meant that we had a limited amount of space to move traffic to the side of our work, while doing it in a way that would minimize drop-offs or hazards for drivers.”

The contractor has widened Highway 20 at both Sidney Street and Boon Road for turn lanes, although the lanes will not be striped until the final layer of pavement is applied.

“About the only thing that has been completely finished is the southern-most storm detention pond,” Chesson said. “Most other work still needs some touch-ups. For example, many locations will still receive another layer of asphalt or need illumination at intersections or hydro seeding of ditches.”

Driveway ends will be paved at the end of the project after the roadway is paved.

“This allows us to get the highway pavement as smooth as possible,” Chesson added. “Driveway ends are currently in gravel.”

The WSDOT spokesman implored drivers to use extreme caution when traveling in areas where construction is being undertaken.

“Work zones can be dangerous for both drivers and workers if we are not all paying attention all the time,” Chesson said. “This hits home to us this week as a worker was tragically killed and another injured on the I-405 project. We want to remind drivers of the importance of paying attention, using an appropriate speed and watching for crews or equipment close to the roadway. At the end of the day we want everyone to get home safe.”

Chesson actively solicits input from drivers. If drivers have questions or comments about the current Highway 20 project or any other project, he can be reached at 360-757-5970, from 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Drivers can also get e-mail updates on SR 20 projects by going to: www.wsdot.wa.gov/North

west/EmailUpdates.

“These are very helpful for drivers to plan trips and know about delays that could affect their commute,” Chesson said.

The Sidney Street to Scenic Heights project Web page can be found at: www.wsdot.wa.gov/Projects/SR20/SidneyStreet

ToScenicHeights.

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