US 12 - Nine Mile Hill to Frenchtown Vic - Build New Highway

Project news

  • We are working in collaboration with our contractor, Atkinson Construction, on the design of the project to maximize safety, sustainability, and community-centered benefits wherever possible within this project corridor now and for the future.
    • This project will now complete safety enhancements of the US 12 corridor all the way from the Nine Mile Hill to Frenchtown, providing immediate benefits. This includes construction of two full interchanges at Nine Mile Hill and Lower Dry Creek. Combining the benefits of these interchanges with the benefits of grade-separated crossings (overpasses) at Cummins Road, Touchet North Road, Woodward Canyon Road, and Frenchtown Access Road significantly improves safety along this section of US 12.
    • This new design eliminates high-severity conflict points, allowing 7 miles between interchanges to minimize weaving movements and turbulence. The grade-separated crossings separate traffic local to Touchet and Lowden from the freight and high-speed through-traffic traveling between Wallula Junction and Walla Walla. This separation of traffic improves the safety of local farm equipment, school buses, and local residents.
    • View updated project map (pdf 461 kb)
  • Preliminary work is underway this summer with major construction scheduled to start in summer 2021.
  • This project is funded by the 2015 Connecting Washington Transportation Revenue Package

Upcoming Community Engagement 

  • Due to COVID-19 and the Governor's phased approach to reopening the state, we won't be able to hold any in-person events at this time.
  • We are working with local businesses along the project corridor to help us provide project updates in the form of posters and handouts. 
  • This project webpage is also the best place to find updates and important project news. 

Project Background

Since 2003, WSDOT and the US Highway 12 Coalition have made significant progress toward four-laning US 12 from Snake River (near Burbank) to Walla Walla. After this 11-mile project is complete, approximately 10 miles of two-lane, undivided existing highway will remain west of Nine Mile Hill. Completing the US 12 corridor will benefit residents, businesses, and the traveling public through improved safety, capacity, and mobility. In addition, the regional transportation system between the Tri-Cities and Walla Walla will be able to better support the agricultural, viticultural, and other freight traffic critical to Eastern Washington's economic vitality.

Project Needs

Since 1991, the corridor from SR 124 to Walla Walla has experienced over 1,000 crashes with over 500 injuries and over 20 fatalities. Nearly half of the fatalities are caused by vehicles crossing the centerline on the existing two lane highway. This corridor carries between 7,000 and 13,000 vehicles per day with up to 12 percent truck traffic. This high percentage of trucks impedes the flow of traffic and causes delays. Widening the corridor from a two-lane to four-lane divided highway will improve traffic flow and increase the corridor safety by decreasing the number of intersections on US 12 while seperating opposing traffic with a median. 

Project Benefits

  • Increased safety. The proposed four-lane highway will increase safety by decreasing the number of intersections on US 12 while separating opposing traffic with a median. Intersections with local roads will allow safe access to and from the new roadway.
  • Freight mobility: Building a four-lane highway will ease conflicts between slow moving trucks and passenger vehicles.

The End Result

This section of US 12 is located north of the communities of Touchet and Lowden. To maintain access to these communities, two interchanges will be constructed with local roads including the existing US 12 at the bottom of Nine Mile Hill and Lower Dry Creek Road. Bridges will be constructed to maintain connectivity along Cummins Road, Touchet Road North and Woodward Canyon. New bridges will be constructed to span the Touchet River, Touchet Floodway, and Dry Creek.

Project Timeline

  • 2016: Design of the Phase 7 project began
  • Summer 2017: Access hearing and right of way footprint finalization occurred
  • 2018:
    • ​Open house held
    • Property appraisals completed
    • Property acquisition and negotiations began
    • Utility coordination and irrigation relocations began
  • Early 2019:
    • Property acquisition and negotiations 
    • Utility relocations 
  • Fall 2019: Phase 7 goes to contractors to bid
  • 2020 - 2023: Phase 7 construction
  • Summer 2023: New four-lane, divided highway planned to open


Financial Data for PIN 501210T, 501213X
Funding Source Amount ($ in thousands)
2003 Gas Tax (Nickel Funding) $0
2005 Gas Tax (TPA) $0
Pre-Existing Funds (PEF) $5,362
CWA $161,369
Total $166,731

Contact Information

Alex Sanguino, P.E.
WSDOT Construction Project Engineer

Meagan Lott
WSDOT Communications

thumbnail project map for US 12 - Nine Mile Hill to Frenchtown Vic - Build New Highway project