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Thursday, November 01, 2012
Kelly Stowe, WSDOT Communications, 360-357-2716 (Tumwater)
ROCHESTER – Drivers have tolerated 21 months of lane and ramp closures, but the end is in sight – literally. New cameras and an electronic sign mark the finishing touches of the Interstate 5 Grand Mound to Maytown Stage 2 project near the Thurston/Lewis County line.
In the next few weeks, the finishing touches won’t just be visible to local drivers, either. The six new cameras between Grand Mound (milepost 88) and Maytown (milepost 96) can be found on the Washington State Department of Transportation’s Web page and its mobile apps.
For almost two years, WSDOT and contractor Tri-State construction have rebuilt the I-5/US 12 Grand Mound Interchange, constructing a new bridge to carry traffic over I-5 from US 12 and Old Highway 99, realigning and lengthening the on- and off-ramps at the interchange, and adding two new signals at the ramp intersections to create a new “diamond” interchange.
“We are excited about the improvements along this stretch of I-5,” said Olympic Region Administrator Kevin Dayton. “This is a crucial link in keeping goods and people moving. These cameras will not only be useful for first responders, but will give drivers a more accurate way to check traffic conditions and plan their travels.”
The new cameras are expected to go live in December.
Widening and improving the interstate corridor, as well as adding valuable Intelligent Transportation System equipment such as cameras, traffic-counting loops and a variable message sign, will improve mobility for the more than 56,000 drivers who travel this section of I-5 daily.
The new cameras will not only give drivers a chance to see what road and travel conditions are, they also will help WSDOT and the State Patrol know what they are facing when responding to incidents in the area. Currently, when a collision occurs, first responders don’t know what they are dealing with until they reach the scene. These new cameras will allow dispatchers to give troopers and WSDOT maintenance crews important details such as how many lanes are affected, the extent of the backups and the exact location of incident.
Along with the new cameras, a new electronic sign above southbound I-5 near Maytown will warn drivers of incidents or lane closures ahead.
“As part of a testing process, drivers may notice asterisks on the new electronic sign for several days and wonder what is happening,” Dayton said. “The sign has to successfully complete several consecutive days of testing to make sure it can communicate with our Traffic Management Center in Parkland.”
Once the testing is complete, the asterisks will disappear and the sign will display traffic and safety-related messages when needed.
The I-5 Grand Mound to Maytown Stage 2 project is one of four funded by $390 million from the 2003 and 2005 gas-tax packages to improve traffic flow and safety along 18 miles of I-5 in Lewis and Thurston counties.
The first of two stages for the fourth and final of these projects, I-5 Mellen Street to Blakeslee Junction, is currently under way in Lewis County.
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