Watch for potholes on Highway 522

Karen Hart of Sultan writes: I appreciate the long-needed widening project on Highway 522 near Monroe. However, I am very dismayed at the potholes that are rearing their ugly heads.

The dark, rainy, vision-impaired evenings make it difficult to avoid hitting them. I have noticed many cars, along with my own, hitting these holes, sending teeth chattering and alignments out the door!

I tried to slow down to 25 mph to look for them and then I had angry followers on my back. I tried to drive on the shoulder to avoid them only to hit a bigger one. I tried to take the first exit to avoid them and hit another one! Please keep an eye out for these!

Bronlea Mishler, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Transportation, responds: We appreciate drivers letting us know about potholes – we are constantly monitoring this area, but drivers give us another set of eyes on the road.

About two weeks ago, we spent two nights fixing potholes in that area, and we’ll continue to monitor the area throughout the winter.

Weather changes and lane shifts were the main factor behind the potholes you noticed. Drivers are currently traveling in lanes shifted from their normal location because we needed to create space for crews to do the widening work. That means there’s a lot of weight and vibration on sections of highway that haven’t been used previously. The dirt underneath the highway can settle, causing potholes, and fluctuations in temperature can speed up the process.

Crews are keeping a close eye on potholes and patching them as quickly as possible. The patching is more of a challenge with the cold weather. In order to get a good, long-lasting patch, we need to use hot-mix asphalt. The plants that produce that hot mix are not open as often as they are during the summer, so we have to work with various companies to have them open their plants.

Tom Gallagher of Lake Stevens writes: A while back in Street Smarts you addressed the removal of the right-turn arrow from northbound Highway 9 to eastbound Highway 92. Your column quoted the state as saying when construction was finished that the arrow would be put back into operation. Well, the construction is finished but no light. Drivers have begun to just blow through the red for right.

Mishler responds: Tom is correct that we removed that right-turn arrow during construction of the Highway 9 widening project in the area. Construction – at least to the casual observer – is done, although we do still have crews out there wrapping some end-of-project work.

Since we’re done with all the lane closures, though, we’ll be reinstalling that right-turn arrow. It’s a pretty simple process (crews just have to pull off the old signal head and install a new one), and we hope to get it installed by early January.

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