New D Street overpass lanes could ease traffic
Two lanes of the renovated State Route 543 truck route north from H Street to the border will be paved and open for traffic by July 19, according to assistant project engineer Patrick Fuller of the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT). That will allow north and south-bound traffic to be re-routed under the eastern half of the new D Street overpass, itself set to be completely open in late August.
The overpass consists of two bridges that meet where the highway’s north and south bound lanes once crossed D Street. Those lanes are being re-worked into ramps providing access for traffic between D St. and SR 543.
When the project is completed in 2008, two new southbound lanes and three northbound lanes will pass under the two new D Street bridges on either side of the center access ramps. The right-hand northbound lane will carry trucks through a new access driveway directly to a three-lane queuing area and dedicated truck customs crossing, something that’s expected to expedite traffic as well by separating the trucks from the non-commercial traffic
Imco Construction began removing dirt from under the eastern half of the D Street overpass last week, and once the paving and striping is done on the new lanes then they’ll begin working on removing the dirt under the west side of the overpass. Much of the traffic now being detoured through the Allan Street neighborhood will be able to stay on SR 543 for access to border businesses.
The project has fallen about a month behind the proposed schedule when work began last year, according to WSDOT project engineer Chris Damitio.
The project’s design calls for concrete paving from H Street north to the border because of its durability. Aside from running into some very large granite boulders that delayed the work, construction schedules are also subject to weather delays. “If we get a rain day, then that puts us one day behind,” he said.