Highway 14 work prompts closures

Crews installing girders for overpass in Washougal

By Patty Hastings, Columbian breaking news reporter

Published:

Updated: July 30, 2012, 10:40 PM

 

Second Street in Washougal will be closed from 8 p.m. today to 6 a.m. Wednesday while construction crews install bridge girders for the Highway 14 overpass project. Drivers will still be able to cross at Union Street and Sixth Street.

Abbi Russell, spokeswoman for Washington State Department of Transportation, says the girders represent the backbone of bridge construction.

This will be the second night of closures related to girder placement. The first was scheduled Monday night.

Since January, Highway 14 traffic has been diverted to frontage roads with a reduced speed limit of 25 mph. Roundabouts were installed parallel to the highway. These eliminated the signals that used to stall traffic — and cause accidents — along the two-lane highway.

"If you ask most people, it beats the lights hands down," Russell said.

Russell said these roundabouts virtually eliminate the danger of T-bone collisions, which occur at traditional intersections, since drivers enter roundabouts at an angle and are forced to slow down.

A survey done by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety on drivers' views of roundabouts showed that before construction, 31 percent of drivers were strongly in favor of roundabouts, and 41 percent were strongly opposed. After the roundabouts are installed and used, however, those who favored roundabouts increased to 63 percent and those who were strongly opposed dropped to 15 percent.

WSDOT is collaborating with Camas and Washougal, the Port of Camas-Washougal, Clark County and the South

west Washington Regional Transportation Council to widen the highway from the West Camas Slough Bridge to Sixth Street in Washougal and eliminate traffic signals between the Northwest Sixth Avenue interchange in Camas and Sixth Street in Washougal. Median barriers will also be installed.

The new interchange will raise Highway 14 by 20 feet and excavate Union and Second streets about five feet to make way for a bridge interchange system, similar to the ongoing installation at St. Johns Road and Highway 500.

When the project is completed in late 2012 or early 2013, commuters will enjoy 16 miles of free-flowing traffic from Interstate 5 to 15th Street in Washougal. The $49 million project is being financed almost entirely from gas taxes approved by voters in 2005, according to the project's Web page.