City opposed to new Weigh Station near exit 34; says essentially another Truck Stop

One of the first things that needs to happen before the congested, and often times dangerous, I-90/SR 18 interchange can be redesigned is for the WSP weigh station (truck scales) located at the site to  be relocated.

Where that station will be located is battling a bit of NIMBY, though.

Relocation Key to I-90/SR 18 Re-design Project

State legislators pushed up funding for the $150 million 90/18 improvement project, allowing design this begin summer, with construction estimated to start in 2019. Originally the gas tax funded project wasn’t expected to start until 2023.

With the weigh station moved, the antiquated, signal-controlled interchange will become a diverging diamond interchange and the money saved from the “innovative” DDI solution will be utilized to widen SR 18, possibly to the Raging River.

The project is anticipated to improve safety at the interchange, which is a major commercial freight thoroughfare and where merging vehicles often back up onto I-90, a 70mph freeway. These backups have caused several serious collisions in recent years with increased truck traffic and population growth in southeast and east King County.

Step one: Move the Weigh Station

Over the summer the state evaluated five possible state-owned locations, all along eastbound I-90, as the state says the westbound direction is already served by a station in Cle Elum and the eastbound weigh station near Cle Elum “has not been in regular operation for several years due to poor sight distance, inadequate queue storage, and staffing shortage.”

The recommended location is a site between eastbound I-90 exits 32 and 34 in North Bend. According to a site evaluation, this spot “addresses the need for a Commercial Vehicle Enforcement presence in this area with the least impact and at the lowest costs.”

Evaluated Weigh Station Relocation Sites

City of North Bend Opposed

The City of North Bend, though, is opposed to this location. City Administratior Londi Lindell said it actually has more to do with the design and size of the proposed weigh station rather than the location. The state is proposing the new weigh station be larger than the one it will replace, including the option for 35-70 parking stalls and restrooms.

Lindell feels the state is essentially proposing a truck stop and although the site is just outside city limits, it is very close to the city zoning area that prohibits a Truck Town expansion or any new truck stops.

The city feels with the larger weigh station design will come adverse environmental impacts brought on by increased traffic – like air, noise and light pollution. Lindell said the site is also close to a school, a neighborhood and the city.

The City of North Bend prefers the weigh station be located at milepost 38. Lindell also has concerns over the state’s cost estimate for this exit 38 spot, feeling it is too high.  She said she feels the state doesn’t like this location because of its proximity to a state park.

When asked if the city would be opposed if the weigh station was smaller, like the one it is replacing, Lindell said no. She said the city will closely monitor the SEPA and NEPA process if this site is ultimately chosen.

State says Exit 34 Area needs Commercial Truck Enforcement

Washington State 5th District Senator Mark Mullet said he understands the city’s concerns, but explained this area – due to the proximity to Truck Town and the spot where I-90 is closed during inclement weather at Snoqualmie Pass – needs commercial truck enforcement and more dedicated parking spots to get trucks off of North Bend city streets and freeway shoulders.

Senator Mullet said the new weigh station isn’t anticipated to increase truck traffic, that the trucks are already in the exit 34 area and using exit shoulders and nearby city streets for parking. He said having a better, more functional weigh station would put dedicated WSP Commercial Enforcement officers in North Bend, where commercial vehicle enforcement is greatly needed.

He also said the significant cost savings with this site is a big deal for the 90/18 improvement project, saying every dollars saved on the weigh station relocation is money that will be spent widening SR 18 between I-90 and the Raging River, an expensive component to the $150 million project.  For example, if $100 million is spent to relocate the weigh station to exit 38, there would very little left for SR 18 widening.

Mullet said for those who might be “anti-truck,” a weigh station and the WSP commercial vehicle officers that would accompany it, are a good thing.

The I-90/SR 18 Interchange Weigh Station Site Investigation Recommendation:

“This location has a preliminary design that allows the WSP and WSDOT to answer the significant need for a Commercial Vehicle Enforcement presence in this area while minimizing impact to the surrounding community and natural environment. This station also allows for a solution to the parking crisis that exists in this area with a potential for future expansion to as many as 70 parking stalls. This option also accommodates the operational efficiency proposal to have the local WSP enforcement detachment be co-located with the WSP Commercial Vehicle Enforcement detachments.”

This recommendation is not a final siting decision.  According to the evaluation document: “As the project advances, formal environmental and operational studies and analysis will be required before any final siting decisions and commitments are made. This process will include stakeholder and community engagement, in order to ensure that all questions and concerns are heard and responded to, and any necessary mitigation and design or construction commitments are identified.”

 

 

 

 

 

Comments

  1. Art Farash says:

    I worked many years doing truck enforcement at both the present scale and on the roads with portable scales and one thing I can say is that if a scale is placed between Exits 32 and 34 you can bet trucks will be avoiding the scale by taking the exits and by passing on North Bend Way. As an officer with portable scales I was able to catch more violators on a normal day than were ever caught at the North bend scale.

    • Danna McCall says:

      The state has actually tried to open it as little as possible due to the traffic congestion it causes – or at least that is what I was told.

    • The new roundabouts make traveling thru downtown North Bend very difficult for Semi trucks to navigate easily. I don’t see there being a rush of trucks taking side streets to avoid the scales.

      • Art Farash says:

        Seen these “bypassers at Federal Way using old 99, A driver wanting to avoid the scales at that proposed location would get off at 32/34 and hop on again from NB Way. These guys with bad log books will avoid the scales. Grave;l trucks from the pits at Edgewick will not go over the scales either.

  2. As a former military police officer and 30 year tricking veteran, I can understand some people’s concern at having more truck parking spaces in their area. Problem is, with the number of trucks on the road today to meet the needs of the public, the need for Safe truck parking has gone up exponentially over the years. Given that truckers are often left with being forced to park on city streets, or the shoulders of state and federal highways, safety tends to become a higher need.
    No, I don’t care for the smell of the fumes that some trucks produce, but today’s newer trucks have gone to the point of fumes being almost non-existent with the new emission controls they now have. Noise???, Older trucks have exhaust systems that make them louder, or have been modified by their owners, but the majority are not that loud.
    The need for additional parking spaces, especially in the State of Washington, and others, is far greater than people realize. These men and women spend an average of 4 to 6 weeks on the road, away from their families, often trying to safely meet delivery schedules and dealing with traffic, weather and stringent driving regulations . In other words, the publics needs for the goods and services they demand is what has placed these trucks in these areas, and the likelihood for a decrease in trucking activity is non existent, while the need for safe parking will continue to grow. Communities need to understand this, plus with the addition of parking spaces or another trucks top or 2 can help those communities by creating more jobs for local residents, and increased tax income to those communities as well, as those facilities will need products supplied by local businesses.
    As for traffic concerns, these heavily populated areas also are in dire need of an expanded enforcement community to help educate the motoring public to operate more safely than they currently do. And before someone can try to “chew my head off”, I’ve had I don’t know How many times that I’ve seen people texting, reading social media like Facebook, playing video games, or reading something on their phones while driving in traffic. This alone has increased the number of accidents across the country to the point that distracted driving now accounts for more traffic deaths than drunk driving. The same goes for using cellphones without a Hands Free device (a headset).
    So there is a lot to take into consideration before condemning truck drivers to being left in dangerous parking situations. I hope these communities will take the above information into consideration and change their hearts. These truckers could very well be a family member or friends that you might know and would hope for your support

  3. Edward Slaght says:

    I don’t give a rat’s what the city thinks about it, Anything past exit 34 doesn’t help with the lack of truck parking when the freeway is closed at exit 34. One thing I would like to see is a dedicated lane for people who live off of exit 34 so they’re not stuck for hours behind trucks that can’t go anywhere. I’d much rather see 70 parking spots than 35, that adds up to a lot less trucks parked on North Bend Way, which is much too narrow for trucks on both shoulders.

  4. Todd Erskine says:

    It seems to me the day is not far in the future when much of the truck traffic on our roads will be autonomous. How does that change the equation? Are we looking at expending public dollars here on a weigh station that will be completely outdated in a decade? I’m not suggesting there is not a need for enforcement, but wouldn’t a couple of officers with portable scales be just as effective?

  5. Kim Harmeling says:

    It seems to me that the city is being short-sighted about this. Like it or not, North Bend sits squarely beside a critical east-west route through our state, a route that sees transport via tractor-trailer of thousands of tons of goods each year. When the pass is closed, as it frequently is during winter months or construction season, those transport drivers need a place to wait that is safe. Hundreds of trucks parked next to I-90 is not safe for those drivers, nor is it safe for residents of North Bend who must navigate the line of waiting semis in order to reach their homes. A larger, state-maintained scale location would provide safe parking for many vehicles as well as facilities – particularly restrooms – for the drivers. The City Council’s NIMBY approach to this issue solves nothing and indeed exacerbates the current problems created by closure of the pass, as well as delaying the long-needed work of the I-90 / Hwy 18 interchange. They can’t do that work until the weigh station is relocated, and the problems at the Hwy 18 interchange are a year-round problem.

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