Later this month the state should finally have a site selected for the relocation of the current 90/18 interchange weigh station – which is slated to close this summer in preparation for the $150 million Interchange Improvement project and in order to begin construction on a dedicated on-ramp to I-90 from Snoqualmie Parkway during the project’s two-year construction phase.
The state has narrowed the relocation site down to two Eastbound I-90 spots – milepost 33.5 near Truck Town and milepost 80 west of Cle Elum.
The City of North Bend continues its vocal opposition to the North Bend location and Washington State Patrol, which owns and operates the state’s truck weigh and inspection stations, has made it clear North Bend is its preferred location.
The City of North Bend is requesting that the state first evaluate whether a new weigh station is even necessary. If it is determined that it is, they are requesting that all sites receive a full evaluation, including examining environment and health impacts, costs, and conducting topography and utility analysis. City leadership does not believe full vetting has occurred since the state has only been evaluating relocation sites for about a year.
“The proposed relocation of the current westbound weigh station is for an eastbound station. Our concern is that more trucks will use our local roads to circumvent the station and cause congestion and pavement damage to North Bend Way, ” explained Mayor Ken Hearing.
The city is also concerned about the proposed site’s proximity to Camp Waskowitz and a nearby drinking well that serves the camp that is within a well head protection zone. In response the state has proposed moving the station farther east toward 468th to provide more distance from the protection zone and using bypass detection technology to deter trucks from using local roads.
Initially, WSP was opposed to closing the 90/18 weigh station before a new site was officially chosen, but earlier this year did agree to close it early in order for the new Snoqualmie Parkway/I-90 on-ramp construction to begin this summer. The state and the City of Snoqualmie, Snoqualmie Casino, Covington and Maple Valley are funding the estimated $1 million on-ramp project to help alleviate traffic during the interchange improvement project.
WSP currently favors the North Bend weigh station site over the Cle Elum area site for multiple reasons, but staffing is the main concern. According to an email explanation from WSP Cpt. Monica Alexander, WSP cannot fully staff the large westbound weigh station at milepost 80. Currently three positions remain open.
Cpt Alexander explained, “Filling these positions is historically difficult due to the remote location of the facility and the high cost of living. We are currently unable to keep the westbound Cle Elum scale open 24/7 and it would be impossible to keep a new eastbound scale in the Cle Elum area open in addition to the current scale.”
However, WSP said they would be able to staff the North Bend location immediately – with both a Port of Entry staff consisting of one sergeant and eight troopers along with a Commercial Vehicle Enforcement detachment of six that would relocate from Bellevue.
WSP also said it prefers the station to be west of Snoqualmie Pass for safety and infrastructure preservation; for a chain up area and for potential extra parking to mitigate the truck parking issues/concerns in the North Bend area.
IF the weigh station is moved to North Bend, WSDOT has said parking spaces would be reduced to 15. Originally they had considered 70 and 35 stalls.
North Bend city officials are highly supportive of the improvement projects at the 90/18 interchange, but not the relocation of the weigh station to the North Bend area. Last September, the City of North Bend drafted a Memorandum of Understanding, saying it would agree to the relocation if the state funded a $6-$7 million road improvement project on SE 468th and continued road overlay funding in the area. That agreement was never signed.
Other sites the state explored for the weigh station were mileposts 28, 36, 38, 45, but all were ruled out due to cost and environmental issues.
WSDOT recently complete an online open house regarding the weigh station relocation and the 90/18 improvement project, along with two live open houses in the Snoqualmie Valley.
At a May 23rd Stakeholder Meeting, WSDOT will present the preferred weigh station site location.
According to WSDOT Engineering Manger John Chi, “We have conducted a feasibility study for all the proposed weigh/inspection locations and will only conduct a full evaluation on the preferred site. If milepost 80 site is selected as the preferred site, we will definitely do a full evaluation for that site.”
See two potential weigh station layouts below: