Leaders in Kittitas and King counties are leading a study to examine traffic safety improvements on Snoqualmie Pass, amid a growing demand for outdoor recreation and an increased risk for traffic collisions.
Risks for collisions have increased alongside population growth and a growing demand for year-round recreational usage of the pass. Serving skiers, mountain bikers and hikers, officials say there have been intensified conflicts between pedestrians, commuters and commercial freight trucks. On peak winter days, the pass is estimated to serve 30,000 people.
Through the Snoqualmie Pass Comprehensive Safety Action Plan, leaders are hoping to address these concerns and determine priority safety improvements, noting current pass infrastructure is outdated, but is beyond current financial resources.
The plan was awarded nearly $430,000 in funds from the Safe Streets and Roads For All Grant Program, the Kittitas County Board of Commissioners announced last week. The grant program was established under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill passed during the Biden administration.
Kittitas County’s work with King County and area stakeholders will ensure a safe and successful future for enthusiasts, area businesses, and the greater Northwest region dependent on this vital commerce link, Kittitas County Chair Cory Wright said in a statement.
King County Council Vice Chair Reagan Dunn called Snoqualmie Pass a gem, serving as both an “invaluable” outdoor destination and a critical transportation route.
“King County is proud to partner with Kittitas County to work toward needed improvements to keep Snoqualmie Pass an accessible and safe resource for all who enjoy and rely on it,” he said in a statement.
Improvements on the pass come as state legislators are debating ways to stem the increase in traffic fatalities. Preliminary data from last year suggests the state had 745 road deaths in 2022, the Seattle Times reported. If confirmed, that would be the highest toll in three decades.
According to the Washington State Department of Transportation Crash Data Portal, there were 16 collisions involving a fatality or serious injury between North Bend and Cle Elum last year.