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New scholarship asks students to design first wildlife crossing east of Snoqualmie Pass

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Date:  Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Contact: Meagan McFadden, WSDOT communications, 509-577-1618 (Yakima)
Summer Derrey, WSDOT communications, 509-577-1943 (Yakima)
Jen Watkins, I-90 Wildlife Bridges campaign coordinator, 206-940-7914 (Seattle)

YAKIMA – A new scholarship offers high school students interested in engineering, the environment or art the chance to earn money for college.
The I-90 Wildlife Bridges Coalition is offering a $1,500 scholarship to a high school junior or senior enrolling in college within the next two years. The runner-up receives a $500 scholarship.

Engineers with the Washington State Department of Transportation are looking for students to come up with their own design of a wildlife crossing over Interstate 90. The crossing should be similar to the structure already designed and scheduled to be built in 2015 near the Price Noble Creek Sno-Park, as part of the second phase of the I-90 Snoqualmie Pass East project.

“The I-90 project is evolving from a design on paper into a major project that will benefit our entire state,” said Charlie Raines, I-90 Wildlife Bridges Coalition director. “We are looking for students who are interested in how to incorporate the environment and transportation in the design of our highways.”

The scholarship application needs to include a model, blueprint or graphic of a wildlife crossing over a new six-lane highway and an essay explaining how the model demonstrates the importance of wildlife crossings within the I-90 corridor. The essay must be no less than 500 words and may not exceed two pages. Applications must be postmarked by May 3, 2013.

Students can register at Washboard.org and then download the application by searching for 2013 Bridging Futures. For a wide variety of resources to help with the design and essay, students can visit the I-90 Wildlife Bridges Coalition Web page . The Bridges Coalition supports WSDOT’s wildlife crossings as part of the I-90 improvement project.

Bridges Coalition members and WSDOT staff will select the top five entries based on a specific list of criteria. The entries will be sent to an expert judging panel for further review, and winners will be announced in early June.

In addition to wildlife under- and over-crossings that help reconnect habitat in the Central Cascades, WSDOT is improving I-90 by building a new six-lane freeway from Hyak to Keechelus Dam. This project:

  • Replaces deteriorated concrete pavement in the existing lanes and shoulders for a smoother ride
  • Stabilizes rock slopes to reduce the risk of rocks falling onto the roadway
  • Extends chain-up and -off areas to improve safety
  • Straightens sharp curves to improve visibility
  • Replaces the snowshed east of Snoqualmie Pass with a new structure to reduce avalanche-related closures
  • Adds lights, traffic cameras and variable message signs.

WSDOT received funding from the 2005 gas tax package to design and construct this project. The first five miles of improvements are scheduled to be complete in 2017.

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