Heading for the hills in August? Take the scenic route to avoid 2-hour delays on US 12

by guest blogger Mike Westbay and Abbi Russel

If you don’t like being stopped by road construction flaggers several times in one trip across the mountains, consider alternate routes during US 12 work between Morton and Yakima.

Travelers could save themselves a couple hours of delay this summer with a few minutes of trip planning.

We are gearing up to stabilize slopes and repave worn-out sections of US 12 between Morton and Yakima. Starting August 1, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekdays, traffic will have to stop and wait for pilot vehicles to lead them through up to four different work zones along 57 miles of US 12.

For many, the scenic route along state routes 123 and 410 will be a pleasant way to avoid a lengthy delay. Though it adds 20 miles to the trip, these scenic byways wind through Mt. Rainier National Park, and its viewpoints are a bit more enjoyable than a flagger’s stop sign or the bumper of a vehicle ahead of you in the backup.

Large commercial vehicles will have to take a different route, however, as they are prohibited in Mt. Rainier National Park. Truck drivers may choose to wait through the work zone delays, take I-90 across the Cascades, or use State Route 14 or Interstate 84 through the Columbia River Gorge to get to US 97 and Interstate 82.

If your plans take you to some of the great little towns along US 12, never fear – you will still be able to get a cup of coffee or a milkshake, maybe even a new fishing lure, because businesses are open during construction. Just give yourself a little more travel time to get to your US 12 destinations.

Crews are working this summer to smooth pavement on US 12 between Morton and Randle, remove old pavement and repave the highway over White Pass, and stabilize rock slopes just west of the pass. Construction on all three projects is scheduled for completion in October.

Crews on all three projects will stop working by noon on Friday, Sept. 2, and start again on Tuesday, Sept. 6, to keep US 12 open Labor Day weekend.

There are lots of ways you can stay in the loop on construction work and highway conditions on US 12 or any route in the state:

•    Traffic products for your mobile phone and other wireless devices: http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/small/
•    White Pass travel info and traffic camera: www.wsdot.wa.gov/traffic/passes/white/
•    South Central Washington travel alerts:  www.wsdot.wa.gov/traffic/trafficalerts/SouthCentral.aspx
•    Southwest Washington travel alerts: www.wsdot.wa.gov/Traffic/trafficalerts/SouthWest.aspx 
•    Twitter: http://twitter.com/wsdot
•    Call 511 for traffic updates
•    Tune to Highway Advisory Radio and watch electronic highway signs for information