Opinion

No pain, no gain | Editorial

As much as anyone, we grumble when it takes an extra 20 minutes or more to get from the I-405/I-90 interchange back to Mercer Island. Last weekend was no exception. The weekend-long closure of the SR-520 bridge from Montlake to the interchange with I-405 slowed traffic on I-90 all weekend. What were they thinking, those of us sitting on the East Channel Bridge wondered — especially as it was a Saturday evening —and the I-90 express lanes were only open eastbound. Everyone could plainly see that there was little or no traffic headed that way.

At times like this, it helps to remind ourselves of the size and complexity of the portfolio of highway construction projects now underway in the Puget Sound region and beyond. The Washington State Department of Transportation, in partnership with other agencies, has set about to repair and replace the two corridors most essential to residents and businesses across the state. We pay dearly with both our taxes and our time in traffic — but it will pay off.

A trip to Flickr via the WSDOT website offers some perspective. There, in color, is evidence of what these projects entail. Rebuilding the transportation infrastructure of the Central Puget Sound and beyond is a herculean task. The projects are filled with layers of complexities that include managing traffic, choreographing huge amounts of heavy equipment, and shifting tons of concrete about, all while watching out for impacts to the environment that may harm fish or fowl. At the same time that construction is taking place, crews must be dispatched to open roadways blocked by avalanches, boulders falling onto lanes of traffic and wrecked vehicles. The pictures — especially the night views taken of the demolition of SR-99 along the Seattle waterfront — are amazing, as are the terrifying slides of rocks and debris in the mountains. Adding to the drama is the ever-changing weather conditions. It is humbling to watch. The projects in western Washington that stretch from the viaduct replacement to the lanes of I-90 east of Snoqualmie Pass at Lake Kachess are awe-inspiring.

Take a look at www.flickr.com/photos/wsdot.

 

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