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

Project news

  • In order to better understand the affects the new project design has to residents living and working in or near touchet, we asked the community to complete a survey.
    • The results indicated that more than half of respondents believe the new interchanges will make the highway near Touchet a little or a lot safer.
    • Almost half identify convenience for entering and exiting Touchet as their top priority for work on US 12.
    • That same amount believe the new interchange near Touchet will make local travel a lot more inconvenient.
  • We recognize additional travel time to the new interchanges may be inconvenient for residents. However, our main priority for this project is to increase safety for the traveling public.
  • Since 1991, the corridor from SR 124 to Walla Walla has experienced over 1,000 crashes with over 500 injuries and more than 20 fatalities.
  • This project will increase safety by separating opposing traffic and providing more predictable access for exiting and entering the highway.
  • Major construction is scheduled to start this summer.
  • This project is funded by the 2015 Connecting Washington Transportation Revenue Package.

Upcoming Community Engagement 

  • Our design-build contractor, Atkinson Construction, has set up an office in Touchet located at 16560 W. Highway 12. They are available Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. if you have questions, comments or concerns. Please make sure to follow COVID-19 safety protocols by wearing a mask and keeping at least 6 feet of distance if you drop in.
  • We continue to work with local businesses along the project corridor to help provide project updates. 
  • 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 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.
  • Economic vitality: The proposed four-lane highway will improve access for agricultural, viticultural, and other freight traffic critical to Eastern Washington's economy.

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 started
  • Summer 2017: Access hearing and righ-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 design-build contractors to bid
  • 2020 - 2023: Phase 7 construction
  • Summer 2023: New four-lane highway scheduled to open to traffic


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 $161,218
Total $166,580

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