Highway Expansion In Moses Lake

Story by Carl Molesworth | September 28, 2010

Central Washington Asphalt Inc. is working close to home as its team makes progress on the State Route 17 — Pioneer Way to Stratford Road project for the Washington State Department of Transportation in growing Moses Lake, Wash.

Expanding this portion of SR 17 was recommended in a 1997 study. The current average afternoon travel speed is 30 mph. WSDOT, through computer modeling, estimated that if this project was not built, the average afternoon travel speed would be 15 mph by 2020. By comparison, when the project is built, the average afternoon travel speeds in 2010 and 2020 will be 42 mph and 39 mph, respectively.

This $14.6-million project expands the last two-lane, three-mile segment between Interstate 90 and the Grant County International Airport to four lanes. The project also includes construction of a new bridge across Parker Horn and installation of new noise walls to protect the neighborhoods adjacent to the highway. Additionally, the project will improve major intersections at Nelson Road, Wheeler Road and Broadway Avenue in Moses Lake, as well as a railroad crossing near Stratford Road.

At a groundbreaking ceremony last fall, State Senator Joyce Mulliken (R-Moses Lake) stressed the project is particularly important to improve highway service for freight haulers and shippers. There are 900 acres of industrial property located at the airport three miles north of the project and 350 additional acres of industrial property located just east of the project in the Wheeler Industrial Corridor. Significant growth is occurring in these areas.

Moses Lake-based CWA started work on Sept. 18, 2006. Before the winter shutdown Dec. 22, crews had completed 60 percent of the excavation/embankment work, a new channel realignment and construction, utility relocations and most of the Stream C relocation. (The stream runs through a roadside ditch and needed to be relocated to provide for separation from roadway runoff.) They also got started on roadway surfacing and installing shafts for the noise walls.

Work resumed after winter shutdown on Feb. 26, 2007. Harcon Inc. of Spokane, subcontractor for the bridge work, brought in a Link-Belt HC-138 truck crane to do the heavy lifting for its share of the project. Plans called for driving 36, 12-inch-diameter concrete piles of about 20 feet in length to support the superstructure of the bridge.

North Central Construction, a sister company of the general contractor, used a P&H Omega crane for the noise wall work on the west side of SR 17 between Nelson Road and Wheeler Road. In all, 64,400 square feet of Type IID barrier wall will be installed, according to the bid documents.

Currently, the project is on track to be complete by this fall. The improvements to SR 17 will reduce shipping time and improve access for freight, while also assuring a safer highway for everyone who uses it, WSDOT says.