Monday, February 02, 2009

Unbuilt Highways

In Washington, there are several highways "on the books" that have yet to be built. Most of these will not be constructed before I get to their numbers because the Department of Transportation has no plans to build them.

SR 35: Created in 1995 and meant to be a short connecter across the Columbia River near White Salmon, Highway 35 would align with Oregon Route 35. A study was completed, but the bridge was never built. WSDOT does not list it among their projects.

SR 109: The northern third, from Taholah to Queets, has yet to be built. I believe this is because of jurisdictional issues with the Quinault Tribe. It's been listed since 1970, when the state renumbered its highways. WSDOT does not list its completion among their projects.

SR 168: This route has been talked about for ages, since before 1970. It's a highway over Naches Pass, bascially an all-weather shortcut for SR 410. Not only does Chinook Pass close in the winter, Highway 410 goes through Mount Rainier National Park, which doesn't allow commercial trucks. Despite the traffic that this road would alleviate from I-90, WSDOT does not list it among their projects.

SR 171: The Moses Lake portion of this highway exists (as city streets), but the much longer portion heading to Odessa has not been built, even though it's been listed since the restructuring of 1970. WSDOT does not list its completion among their projects.

SR 213: This route was defined in 1973, but has yet to be built. It would be a connection from SR 20 southward to US 97, south of Okanogan. Currently, there are county roads in that area that do the job. WSDOT does not list it among their projects. [UPDATE: The bridge across the Okanogan River connecting US 97 to Malott is now maintained by WSDOT and officially SR 213, even though it is unsigned as such.]

SR 230: This would be a wonderful new highway heading due east from I-90 at Ritzville. It would be a quicker, safer way to get to Pullman and WSU from Seattle than the current popular route of SR 26. Even though it's been legislated since 1970, WSDOT does not list it among their projects.

SR 276: Created in 1973 to be a bypass around the northern side of Pullman and WSU, this road has not been built, even though WSDOT bought the necessary rights-of-way for the route. Perhaps WSDOT has an institutional grudge against WSU. In Feburary 2007, WSDOT completed a routing development plan with the community's input, which doesn't quite make sense to me since they already have the land for the route. WSDOT does not list any plans to actually build the highway.

SR 339: This route was legislated in 1994 and still exists, sort of. It's the passenger-only ferry from Seattle to Vashon. King County now pays the state to operate the route, which makes it the equivalent of a county road that the county pays the state to maintain. Presumably the legislature will remove this route from their books, but that bill hasn't been introduced yet this term.

SR 501: The south and north ends of this highway have been constructed, in Vancouver and Ridgefield, but four miles along the Columbia River have yet to be built. WSDOT actually built part of the connecting highway already, but it doesn't go as far as the old highway, so the old highway still is the official route, and it gets shorter every time the river washes a section of it away. The route has been on the books since 1970 at least. Nowadays, however, Google Maps shows Highway 501 relocated to some county roads closer to I-5, but nothing from WSDOT or the legislature shows this change. WSDOT does not list any plans to complete this highway.

SR 704: This is the famed cross-base highway, legislated in 2002. WSDOT is finally beginning construction on it, but they haven't made it very far yet. As of today, they've made some improvements to a half-mile existing street, but won't finish that short stretch till this summer. Since only 13.5% of the full project has been funded, I wonder if it ever will be finished. With that amount of money, they might be able to make it another half mile. [UPDATE: The eastern 1/2 mile of this route ("Phase 1") is now open for traffic and signed as SR 704, even though it's just a widening of an existing road.]


Iris said...

"famed cross-base highway"

I don't know which road SR 704 is. Where is it?

Sotosoroto said...

It will connect I-5 to SR 7, between Fort Lewis and McChord.