Sunday, August 26, 2012

Just an Imaginary Ribbon

Due to the complications and safety concerns of actually stretching a ribbon across a major arterial highway, we will instead be having a "Dedication Ceremony". But you are all still invited.

Thursday, August 23, 2012


Also, just a note from Theresa: "As we close out the project there may be times when workers will be out on the site. We don't anticipate much impact to traffic, but there may be a few days here and there where that will happen over the next few months."

Friday, May 25, 2012

Yelm Highway Blog Retrospective

The majority of the project is done. All that is left is some landscaping and cleanup. Dotting i's and crossing t's. This will be the last of the full blog entries as the staff moves on to other projects. Don't fret, you aren't through with me. Thurston County Public Works has many persona on the Social Media front. Keep in touch via our Facebook page, our website, and our informational Twitter feeds. You can also email us at anytime, it gets lonely in that dark basement. OK, it's not dark... but, technically, it IS a basement.... Kathryn 

The Yelm Highway Project has been going on for a long time. Some of you may not know it, but it had been over ten years in the planning and property acquisition stages leading up to the actual contract bidding and ground-breaking ceremony.

When the project started (in the planning stages) we would not have had the opportunity to use the internet to help to keep you informed of job conditions and progress. Yes, we know it has seemed like a snail's pace to those of you having to deal with the daily intrusions. We really have listened to your calls and read your emails and responded as we could.

The blog and Twitter were a new thing for us to try. I'll explain a little how it worked and maybe you will understand why it seemed a bit disconnected at times.  

The project was overseen by Thurston County Project Coordinator Theresa Parsons and her staff of county inspectors, and two or three in-house staff. There were two inspectors who were on the job when the contractor was working. The general contractor selected by low bid was Miles, Inc. and they, in turn, have had many sub-contractors doing the specialty work.  Now, in addition to overseeing this, we added the new task of "social networking" into the mix with the hope that we could get information to you more quickly in some cases and with the lighter and more personable feel than traditional media. 

Due to the complexities of responsibilities and liabilities, it was decided that one person should be responsible for filtering all of the posts and tweets, and this should be a person that was both familiar with County policies and also social media and technology. This should have helped to avoid such things as inappropriate posts, topics, & policy violations.  Enter the final team members. Thurston County Public Works Information Technology (I.T.) Department. 

One member of the IT team has been with the county for over 20 years, starting on the roads maintenance crew as a flagger, so she is familiar with all phases of construction. She also has a keen interest in social media so she volunteered to take the lead on this endeavor. 
The idea was, get the daily plan, text it or phone it to Kathryn by 7AM so she could get the first Tweet out before leaving for work(50-mile commute).
While the inspectors started their days early, often they didn't get daily plans until after 7 am so that is why often the tweets didn't appear until after 8 am.
If there was a problem on site, it was more important to deal with that first, and then let Kathryn know so that she could send out the Tweet.
One of the challenges was juggling the schedules, vacations, illnesses, daily lives, and commute times of the various members of the team.If someone called in sick, often the replacement wasn't aware of the workflow or process. 

The blog was another challenge. Often things didn't really change enough to warrant a post, but we didn't want you to forget about us. We had the occasional "oops!" We had hoped to have more pictures, but really, for those that lived or drove the area, how many more pictures of a torn up road do you need to see? By now you all are probably intimately familiar with construction, delays, and mud... we don't want to raise your blood pressure any higher.  But as you can see, we still managed to get quite a few posts out there.

  These are all things we will get better at with each project.We have enjoyed the chance to interact with you throughout this project and invite you to continue to follow our other Social Media outlets as we expand the ways in which you, the Public of Thurston County can interact with us, your Public Works Department. We welcome your feedback on our social media efforts via email at

The Yelm Highway Team 2010-2012

Theresa Parsons, Coordinator
Gordon, TC Inspector
John, TC Inspector
Steve, TC Engineering Staff
David, TC EngineeringStaff
Kathryn, IT Support
The paving is done, the delays are through. It's been really fun blogging for you!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Wastewater System Odor Control Systems Testing

Date: May 21, 2012                                                                                                     
Released by:
·         Steve Sperr, Water Resources Engineer
·         360.753.8739
Wastewater System Odor Control Systems Testing
Starting Wednesday, May 23, the City of Olympia will be testing the odor and corrosion control facilities installed for the new wastewater collection system along Yelm Highway between Henderson Boulevard and Rich Road, including the new pump station near Brassfield Road.  The testing is anticipated to take two weeks.
What to Expect:
Testing of the odor control facilities may result in a short period where low levels of hydrogen sulfide odor may be experienced in the area mentioned above.  If this occurs, it will only be for a short duration and should be limited to May 23 or 24.
For Additional Information:
·         For additional information, please contact Steve Sperr, Water Resources Engineer, at 360.753.8739.­­­­

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Thursday paving Update

As promised, the paving machine is out and asphalt trucks on the way today.  Crews will be performing a common practice today, called "pre-leveling", which is to lay down a thin layer of asphalt to fill in dips, and raise the roadway elevation up to 2" below the new designed elevation so the final 2" layer can be laid down.  If the crews were to just make on pass with the paving machine, any irregularities in the roadway would be more likely to show up in the final product.  So, two passes with the machine will produce a much smoother final product.
Again, while some of the paving is going one access to Yelm Hwy at Laura, Glenmore and Boulevard Extension will be restricted.  Traffic will be detoured to Rich Road via Haig Drive.  At times access to properties will be restricted for 30 minutes or so in order to roll and cool the asphalt sufficiently for vehicular traffic to cross it. 
There will be flaggers and signs out to help traffic.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012


Grinding of asphalt on the north side of Yelm Hwy from Rich Road to Boulevard Road will be performed tomorrow, Wednesday.  On Thursday, a paving machine and asphalt trucks will be coming in to pre-level both sides of Yelm Hwy from Rich to Boulevard.  

On Friday and Monday, the final lift of asphalt from Rich Road to Boulevard, with the south side of the road paved on Friday and the north side paved on Monday.
On Tuesday the side roads will be paved.
While some of the paving work is going on, access to Yelm Hwy at Laura, Glenmore, and Boulevard Extension will be restricted.  Traffic will be detoured to Rich Road via Haig Drive.
At times, accesses to properties will be restricted for 30 minutes or so in order to roll and cool the asphalt sufficiently for vehicular traffic to cross it.
There will be flaggers and signs out to help traffic.
Theresa L. Parsons
Public Works
(360) 709-3019
2404-A Heritage Court SW
Olympia, WA  98502

Monday, May 7, 2012

Monday, May 7th.. Travel impacts this week...

This week's tentative schedule is to mark out grind and pre-level areas between Boulevard Road and Rich Road in preparation for the final asphalt overlay.  On Tuesday the marked areas will be ground, Wednesday the pre-level areas will be done, and then the overlay might start on Thursday.  

However, the weather forecast is for showers Wednesday and Thursday, and the pre-level and overlay cannot be done in the rain.  We will react depending on the weather. Keep an eye on our Twitter feed for traffic alerts.  [ @yelmhighwayinfo ]
At the same time, landscaping and other miscellaneous work will continue.
The contractor and the County are targeting the majority of work to be done by the end of May, with other miscellaneous work to continue into June.