Huge Snoqualmie Pass Construction Project Looking for Funding - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Huge Snoqualmie Pass Construction Project Looking for Funding

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YAKIMA, WA. -- The drive to Seattle is getting a major makeover as crews continue to make big changes to Snoqualmie Pass. 

If you've had enough of the construction in Snoqualmie Pass, well you better get used to it because this intense 15-mile construction project could go on for the next 10 to 15 years. 

They're only in phase 1 of 3 right now but those last two phases won't happen unless more money is raised. 

We all know about the construction at the pass, but do you know what they're building? The current work is building two raised bridges to replace the old snow shed. When it's all said and done the bridges will be something to behold. 

"It'll be an awesome structure to view especially from the lake," Jeff Minnick, engineer for the Washington State Department of Transportation said. 

The two bridges will add an extra lane in both directions to smooth traffic flow. But the major asset of the new structure will be it's resistance to mother nature. 

"This area is a very, very active avalanche areas." John Stimberis, Avalanche Supervisor for Snoqualmie Pass said. "Probably one of the most active avalanche areas in Washington state highways and it's very disruptive to commerce and we want to ensure the safety of our travelers in this area."

When the bridges are complete, you could be driving on the pass, witness an avalanche right next to your car, and be completely safe as the snow travels underneath the bridge. But that's just phase one.

A few miles down the road, phase 2 and 3 will build dozens of smaller bridges. These bridges will allow creeks and wildlife to pass over and under the highway safely. In fact, one of the bridges will be the first overpass in Washington State built exclusively for wildlife. 

"Several times elk and deer have been hit here," Minnick said. "It won't completely stop it but it will reduce it considerably."

The first phase alone is costing Washington $550 million. The good news is that they're under budget by $109 million. But funding for the last two phases is only partially complete. $390 million more is needed. 

"We don't know where funding is going to come from," Minnick said. "The  (state) legislature is going to have to come up with a revenue package to help us continue."

Right now we don't know exactly how much the pass will change but major changes are definitely happening. Hopefully in the end, it will make our drives safer and more efficient.