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Chip sealing underway near Othello, Royal City next

by CHERYL SCHWEIZER
Staff Writer | May 2, 2024 6:00 PM

ROYAL CITY — Road crews will start chip-sealing on a 30-mile section of State Route 26 in the Royal City area beginning in mid-May. Crews are scheduled to finish chip-sealing on a section of SR 26 near Othello later this week. 

Additional chip seal work is scheduled for U.S. Highway 97 between Tonasket and Oroville in Okanogan County, according to a press release from the Washington Department of Transportation.

Crews will be working from the intersection of SR 26 and Interstate 90 past Royal City to the Grant-Adams county line. Crews will be working during May, pause the project in June and restart in July and August, the press release said.  

Cost for the total project near Royal City is about $7.9 million. 

Road crews already are working on chip-sealing the section of SR 26 between Othello and the county line. Crews are working Monday through Friday from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. That section is expected to be completed by May 8.

Drivers can expect flagger-controlled traffic with delays of up to 20 minutes and reduced speeds.

Roads get damaged by the cycles of freezing and thawing each winter and spring, and chip-sealing helps repair some of the damage, the press release said.

“We’re going to chip seal several areas, which involves placing a mixture of asphalt and water followed by crushed gravel that is then compacted,” said Justin Hammond, WSDOT assistant project engineer.

“Other areas with smaller breaks in the pavement will be repaired by adding adhesive filler to them in a process known as crack sealing,” the press release said. 

According to the WSDOT website, there are still some loose rocks even after compacting. The new road surface takes about two days to cure, after which the loose rocks are swept off the surface. That process can take multiple passes with the sweeper, it said.

The speed limit in the chip-seal zone is 35 miles per hour until the rocks get swept off the road.

“Increased speeds can cause gravel to break loose from a fresh chip seal, cheating the risk of flying rock,” the WSDOT website said. 

Chip sealing also is planned for nine miles of U.S. 97 between Tonasket and Oroville, from Tonasket to about five miles south of Oroville, as part of the same project.  

Road crews also will be working on the final phase of a project at the intersection of US 97 (also US 2 in that stretch) and Easy Street in Wenatchee, beginning Monday.

A multi-lane roundabout was built at that intersection in 2023, and part of that project was an extension of the Apple Capital Trail, which connected the trail to the intersection improvements, according to a WSDOT press release. To finish the project about 3,000 yards of asphalt and four sections of concrete must be removed and rebuilt to make them ADA compliant. 

Most of that work will be off the road, but fixing the pedestrian crossings at the east side of the roundabout will require closing the outside lanes of Highway 97/2. 

“Any work that requires lane closures will occur between 7 p.m. and 6 a.m. There will be shoulder lane closures and lane reductions but no detours for vehicles,” the press release said.

Repairs should take about three days, it said. The work will require intermittent closures of the pedestrian crosswalks in the vicinity of the roundabout intersection, the press release said. Pedestrians and bike riders are being encouraged to find other routes during the construction.

A project to repair a 15-mile section of U.S. 97 between Omak and Tonasket began May 1. The asphalt will be removed and replaced, with completion scheduled for August. The project includes walking and bike paths near the intersection of U.S. 97 and Dayton Street in Omak.

State Route 20 east of Tansket also is getting some upgrades, chip-sealing and the installation of traffic markings. That project begins June 3 and will last 10 working days.

Construction continues on the Vantage Bridge on I-90 south of Quincy. Crews are working on the bridge Monday through Friday through the end of May, requiring closures of one lane in both directions and speeds reduced to 40 mph. There’s also a 10-foot width restriction. Both lanes are open to traffic on weekends through the end of May. 

Cheryl Schweizer can be reached via email at cschweizer@columbiabasinherald.com.