Drivers on State Route 17 north of Soap Lake will soon see a reduction to traffic impacts from a rock scaling project along the highway.

Beginning Monday, March 25, contractor crews with the Washington State Department of Transportation (DOT) will discontinue the use of extended closures within the work zone.

DOT spokesperson Lauren Loebsack says that means no more 45-minute stoppages of traffic on the highway every hour.

"The plan is for a changeover to twenty-minute holds while crews continue their work in the work zone. Then, they will move one direction of traffic through followed by the opposite direction of traffic and then go back to another twenty-minute hold. So drivers can expect delays to be reduced to no more than half-an-hour."

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Loebsack adds that although the change is nominal, it will provide drivers with an earlier opportunity to move through the work zone every hour.

"Much like we did when we were having the fifteen-minute openings at the top of the hour, we're going to work to move the full queue of cars through the work zone before switching over to move the other direction through. So it's a little bit of a shift in plans and it will look a little bit different starting next week."

In addition to the change in traffic control, there will also be 12-foot width restrictions enacted through the work zone during working hours starting Monday.

The work is expected to be ongoing through the spring and summer and won't wrap up until sometime in September.

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