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Thursday, May 12, 2011
Meagan McFadden, WSDOT Communications, 509-654-0697
YAKIMA – The Cascade Land Conservancy presented its Innovative Conservation Project award to the Washington State Department of Transportation’s I-90 Snoqualmie Pass East Project (I-90 project) during its annual Conservation Awards Breakfast today in Seattle. The award recognizes conservation projects involving unique or non-traditional collaboration, and celebrates the cooperation and persistence required to overcome obstacles and preserve land that is important to a community.
“WSDOT is honored and proud to receive this award from the Cascade Land Conservancy,” said Brian White, assistant regional administrator for project development. “We appreciate the support from our project partners and stakeholders. We’ll continue to work closely with them during construction and in the future to make sure this project meets the needs of drivers, recreational users, businesses and the environment.”
Since planning for the I-90 project began in 1999, WSDOT has worked with dozens of government agencies to ensure the project met transportation, safety and mobility needs, and mitigated impacts to the Central Cascades’ ecosystem and the state’s economy. WSDOT also established innovative partnerships with university researchers and conservation groups to help with wildlife-monitoring efforts, acquire property for conservation and generate public awareness. Relationships with transportation-based organizations and businesses also helped WSDOT gain insight into the needs of interstate users.
“The I-90 project exemplifies innovative conservation,” said Jill Arango, conservation managing director & Kittitas County conservation director for the Cascade Land Conservancy. “We are impressed by WSDOT’s commitment to improving the environment by constructing wildlife bridges and culverts, and their acquisition of more than 340 acres of property in the Snoqualmie Pass area that will now be preserved and protected.”
I-90 is an important cross-state freight and travel route; the I-90 project will help WSDOT keep the highway open by improving the safety and reliability of a 15-mile stretch from Hyak (milepost 55) to Easton (milepost 70).
WSDOT will reduce avalanche risks, minimize road closures required for avalanche control work, and reduce the risk of rock and debris falling onto the interstate from unstable slopes. The I-90 project will also help to reduce wildlife vs. vehicle collisions and improve fish and wildlife migration by reconnecting habitat across I-90. This $551 million widening and safety improvement project is scheduled to be complete in 2016.
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