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Highway 525 construction delays try driver's patience

"Whidbey islanders have gotten used to road construction during the summer. But this week, drivers found their patience tested when they were faced with delays of about 30 minutes on a ripped-up section of Highway 525 near Admirals Cove.The project, which involves widening the highway and adding turn lanes, has created a few headaches for the Department of Transportation as well said their northwest regional engineer Amir Ahmadi. Ahmadi said the department first decided to use flaggers at both ends of the project but numerous road crossings by construction equipment led them to start using a lead vehicle to escort traffic through the site.That slowed things down even more.“Needless to say we haven’t been able to manage it like we want,” Ahmadi said. “Ten to 15 minutes is more what we expect.” He added that the situation gets worse about every half hour when ferry traffic reaches the construction zone.Ahmadi said the contractor has already shortened up the section of roadway that crews work on at any one time and said they are likely to have to shorten it even more to reduce the delays.“We’ll see what we can do,” he said.Another problem at the site is that the source of dirt and the spot where it has to be used are not close together. This means construction equipment is stretched over a greater distance than the department would like.Ahmadi said that the road should be paved by mid-October and the project is expected to be completely wrapped up by the end of October. He said the project got a bit of a late start because utility service could not be moved as quickly as planned.Crews are working on the site eight hours each weekday and are under contract to keep two lanes open after 3 p.m. on Fridays. Further north at Zylstra Road, another crew is working 12-hour days, seven days a week to complete a highway-widening project before winter weather shuts them down in November. "

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