Motorists who used U.S. Highway 195 this past weekend for traveling to and from Dad’s Weekend at Washington State University’s Pullman campus were among the early beneficiaries of a safety project Sen. Mark Schoesler included in the Legislature’s 2015 transportation package.
Construction began Aug. 1 on passing lanes north and south of Steptoe, on U.S. 195 about 25 miles north of Pullman and 50 miles south of Spokane. They opened for traffic Oct. 27, a week before Dad’s Weekend began.
“This is the latest example of how the Connecting Washington package is benefiting people who rely on U.S. 195 and State Route 26, which can see heavy use related to WSU’s main campus,” said Schoesler, R-Ritzville, whose legislative district includes all roads leading to Pullman. “I appreciate that the state Department of Transportation and the contractor were able to get these new lanes open in time for Dad’s Weekend, especially with cold weather coming early to the Palouse this year.
“This project is also another example of how our Senate majority has looked out for ‘Cougar Nation’ when it comes to the safety of students and others traveling to and from Pullman,” Schoesler explained. “In 2013, Governor Inslee and the Democrat majority in the House tried to push through a set of projects that would have invested millions in highways leading to the main University of Washington campus and completely ignored SR 26 and U.S. 195. We said no and made sure the package that eventually reached the governor’s desk also addresses WSU and other eastern Washington needs.”
Phase two of the project will add four U.S. 195 passing lanes north and south of Rosalia next year. Mark Allen, DOT project engineer, says construction should begin in April, weather permitting, with completion expected in late July or early August – just in time to benefit students starting classes in the fall.
The state transportation department is also constructing remote weather information stations on SR 26 with traffic cameras near Washtucna and Dusty, where the highway meets state routes 261 and 127, respectively. They’ll join traffic cameras that already allow travelers to look online at three other SR 26 junctions.