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Interstate 82

 

Routing

Interstate 82 is a northwest to southeast, 143-mile freeway that links Interstates 84 and 90 in Oregon and Washington. The highway parallels the Yakima River along the trek between Richland and Kennewick to Yakima, and several U.S. routes merge with Interstate 82 for various intervals along the freeway: U.S. 12, 97, and 395. Interstate 82 was completed when its concurrent section with U.S. 395 opened in Oregon in 1989.

The concrete arch Fred G. Redmon Bridge (dedicated in November 1971) carries Interstate 82 and U.S. 97 over Selah Creek in a rural area north of Yakima. The top of the arch measures approximately 325 feet over the canyon floor and has a length of 1,336 feet. Each arch span measures 549 feet. At the time they were built, these two concrete arches are largest of their type in the United States. Photo taken by AARoads (08/27/06).

History

The routing of Interstate 82 (known as McNary Highway Number 70 in Oregon) was mired in controversy. First, the route was an original route included in the Interstate Highway System by the federal Secretary of Commerce in 1956, based on a Department of Defense recommendation. The states impacted by this route, Washington and Oregon, did not agree on the route of Interstate 82. It would remain unsettled and undergo several corridor studies.

Washington and Oregon disagreed on which cities would be served by this proposed route and which ones would not. The two major corridors considered for Interstate 82 were (1) the Umatilla route, beginning at Interstate 84 in Stanfield, Oregon and traveling northwest through Umatilla toward Prosser, Washington or (2) from Interstate 84 at Pendleton, then northwest to Wallula and then northwest to Prosser in Washington. Alternative #1 was agreed upon by the two states, but it was protested by groups from the Tri-Cities concerned about an economic disadvantage by not being located on Interstate 82. While Alternative #2 would have been longer, it would have allowed Interstate 82 to connect more directly with the Tri-Cities (Richland, Pasco, and Kennewick) and Walla Walla. These routes were debated for the ensuing decade, and compromise was finally reached in 1973.

As part of the deal, an alignment similar to Alternative #1 (Umatilla Route) was chosen. Interstate 82 would cross the Columbia River on an existing bridge (this bridge at Umatilla was built in the 1950s but was not part of any highway route -- not even U.S. 395 -- until it became the eastbound lanes of Interstate 82),1 and the new freeway would follow a largely north-south route between the Umatilla bridge and Interstate 84 southwest of Hermiston. The impacted Washington cities (Tri-Cities and Walla Walla) were satisfied through the Federal Highway Administration's 1972-1973 approval of a spur route, Interstate 182, to serve the Tri-Cities. Although there was a final attempt to change the route of Interstate 82 in 1978, construction of the project finally ensued shortly thereafter. So over 30 years after the route was conceptualized, Interstate 82 was completed and opened to traffic on September 20, 1988 near Hermiston, Oregon.

For more information on this project, visit the Interstate 50th Anniversary: The Story of Oregonís Interstates.2

Parallel/Historic U.S. Routes

Interstate 82 follows U.S. 97 from Interstate 90 south to Yakima, U.S. 12 from Yakima east to the Tri-Cities, and a new alignment from there southeast to the Columbia River and Interstate 84. Although U.S. 395 is currently signed on this section of Interstate 82, U.S. 395 used to follow a different route. Before Interstate 82 was completed between Umatilla and Kennewick, U.S. 395 went between Umatilla and Pasco through Wallula and Burbank, multiplexed with U.S. 730 and U.S. 12. Once the freeway was completed, U.S. 395 was rerouted to follow Interstate 82. U.S. 395 continues south from the southern terminus into eastern Oregon.

Future Aspirations

According to a Washington Highways article from the 1960s, Interstate 82 was at one time planned to be routed over the Naches Pass rather than due north to Interstate 90 at Ellensburg (thanks to Mark Bozanich for researching this proposal). This was never a definite routing; it was simply a "possible" routing. Naches Pass lies along the Naches River between Washington 410 at Greenwater and Washington 410 near Cliffdell. Routing Interstate 82 through this pass would alleviate traffic on Interstate 90 over Snoqualmie Pass and provide easy access between Tacoma and Yakima.

The highway department proposed building a highway of some type over Naches Pass for several decades. One plan would include building a 9000 ft. long tunnel under the summit. This corridor is officially designated under state law as Washington 168. Washington 168 would connect with existing Washington 410 near Greenwater west of Naches Pass and near Cliffdell to the east. Naches Pass is in a more direct line between Tacoma and Yakima than Chinook Pass, the pass presently crossed by Washington (formerly U.S.) 410. Washington 410 cuts through the northeast corner of Mt. Rainier National Park. Commercial traffic is prohibited in the park. Also, Chinook Pass is closed in winter due to heavy snow accumulation.

A new highway over, or under, Naches Pass would provide a direct Tacoma-Yakima connection, be open year round, and be open to cars and trucks. Such a route would link the agricultural Yakima Valley with shipping facilities at the Port of Tacoma. The highway department has no active plans to build the Naches Pass highway but state legislators from the Yakima Valley bring up the issue from time to time. Even if such a route is built, it may be a two-lane expressway for several years before being upgraded to four-lane divided freeway.

In addition to this once-proposed, now defunct proposal to route Interstate 82 directly to Tacoma, another proposal surfaced in April 1999 to extend Interstate 82 south into Oregon. The State of Oregon was examining a possible north-south Interstate that would cost $1 billion and connect with the southern (eastern) terminus of Interstate 82, as reported in "Eastern Oregon waits for new highway," written by James Sinks, which appeared in The Bulletin. The possible alignments of the new highway would be:

  • Madras route: From Umatilla through Heppner, Condon, Fossil and Antelope to Madras, where the interstate would replace Highway 97 south through Bend to the California border.
  • Prineville route: From Umatilla through Heppner, Hardman, Spray, Prineville, Powell Butte to Highway 97 near Bend, then continue south to the border.
  • Highway 395 route: From Umatilla through John Day, Burns and Lakeview.

According to the article, if the road is built someday, it wouldn't be named Interstate 82, because north-south highways are odd-numbered.3

Western Terminus - Interstate 90 - Ellensburg, Washington
Perspective from Interstate 82 West and U.S. 97 North
We join Interstate 82 west and U.S. 97 north after the Washington 821 interchange (Exit 3). This is the final reassurance shield assembly as Interstate 82 approaches its end at Interstate 90 near Ellensburg. Photo taken by AARoads (08/28/06).
This final mileage sign provides the distance to Ellensburg (four miles) and Wenatchee via U.S. 97 north (72 miles). No Interstate 90 destinations west of Ellensburg (such as Seattle) are mentioned. Photo taken by AARoads (08/28/06).
A mile or so later, Interstate 82 west and U.S. 97 north approach their junction with Interstate 90 near Ellensburg. Interstate 90 travels west to Seattle via Snoqualmie Pass and east to Spokane via Moses Lake. Photo taken by AARoads (08/28/06).
Use either lane of Interstate 82 west and U.S. 97 north to connect to westbound Interstate 90. Only the right lane provides access to eastbound Interstate 90. U.S. 97 will briefly merge with Interstate 90 west to bypass Ellensburg, then turn north toward Wenatchee. Photo taken by AARoads (08/28/06).
The ramp to eastbound Interstate 90 splits from westbound Interstate 82 and northbound U.S. 97 at this exit. The left two lanes continue to join westbound Interstate 90 en route to Ellensburg, Cle Elum, and metropolitan Seattle. Photo taken by AARoads (08/28/06).
Rather than signing the END of Interstate 82 west, a reassurance shield is posted for Interstate 90 west and U.S. 97 north. Photo taken by AARoads (08/28/06).
The transition from westbound Interstate 82 to westbound Interstate 90 merges onto Interstate 90 at this point, with the right lane becoming exit only for Canyon Road (former Business Loop I-90 into Ellensburg). U.S. 97 north follows Interstate 90 west until Exit 106. Photo taken by AARoads (08/28/06).
Perspective from Interstate 90 East
Eastbound Interstate 90 and southbound U.S. 97 reach Exit 109, Canyon Road to Ellensburg. The next exit is Exit 110, Junction Interstate 82 east and U.S. 97 south to Yakima. Photo taken by AARoads and Chris Kalina (08/31/06).
After the Canyon Road interchange, the onramp lane becomes exit only for Interstate 82 east and U.S. 97 south. Photo taken by AARoads and Chris Kalina (08/31/06).
Interstate 90 eastbound/U.S. 97 southbound at the northern terminus of Interstate 82. Photos taken by Jeff Royston (9/99) and AARoads and Chris Kalina (08/31/06).
Perspective from Interstate 90 West
Westbound Interstate 90 meets eastbound Interstate 82 and southbound U.S. 97 at Exit 110. The two routes join at a trumpet interchange. U.S. 97 north merges onto westbound Interstate 90. This marks the northwestern terminus of Interstate 82. Photo taken by AARoads and Chris Kalina (09/01/06).
Perspective from Interstate 82 East and U.S. 97 South
This mileage sign provides the distance to Junction Washington 821 (Exit 3), Selah, and Yakima. Photo taken by AARoads and Chris Kalina (08/31/06).
Shortly thereafter, these are the first reassurance shields for eastbound Interstate 82 and southbound U.S. 97. Photo taken by AARoads and Chris Kalina (08/31/06).
Eastern Terminus - Interstate 84 - Hermiston, Oregon
Perspective from Interstate 82 South (East)
After crossing the Columbia River and entering the state of Oregon, this pull-through sign on eastbound Interstate 82 refers to Interstate 84 to Portland and Pendleton rather than Interstate 82, even though Interstate 82 continues for another 11 miles. Perhaps it would have been better to state, "Interstate 82 east to Interstate 84, Portland and Pendleton." Photo taken by AARoads and Chris Kalina (08/31/06).
This mileage sign provides the distance to Interstate 84 (nine miles) as well as the control cities of Portland and Pendleton. Photo taken by AARoads and Chris Kalina (08/31/06).
This is the final Interstate 82 east shield, posted after Exit 5 (Power Line Road). Interstate 82 is rural through here, as it passes west of Hermiston and south of Umatilla. Photo taken by Daniel Tedford (06/18/06).
Another mileage sign is posted after the last reassurance shield, advising of the remaining four miles to the Interstate 84 junction. This sign again lists Portland, but it changes the eastbound control to Baker City. Photo taken by AARoads and Chris Kalina (08/31/06).
The penultimate exit on eastbound (southbound) Interstate 82 is Exit 10, Westland Road. The final exit is the junction with Interstate 84 (Exit 11). Previously, this sign featured a diagrammatical set of arrows, but they were removed for some reason. The remnants of the removed arrows can still be seen on this sign. Photo taken by AARoads and Chris Kalina (08/31/06).
Use the right lane to connect to Interstate 84/U.S. 30 west to Portland; the left two lanes connect to Interstate 84/U.S. 30 southeast to Pendleton, La Grande, Baker City, Ontario, Caldwell, and Boise. Photo taken by AARoads and Chris Kalina (08/31/06).
To La Grande, Ontario, and Baker City, use Interstate 84 east. To The Dalles and Hood River, use Interstate 84 west. Unmentioned on any approach signs is that Interstate 84 also carries U.S. 30 through this region. Photo taken by AARoads and Chris Kalina (08/31/06).
This marks the southern terminus of Interstate 82; there is no END shield. The left two lanes connect to Interstate 84/U.S. 30 east to Pendleton and Boise, while the right lane transitions onto Interstate 84/U.S. 30 west to Portland. Photo taken by AARoads and Chris Kalina (08/31/06).
The interchange between Interstate 82 and Interstate 84 is a tri-level stack. The transition ramp from Interstate 82 east to Interstate 84 east forms the lowest level on this stack. Photo taken by AARoads and Chris Kalina (08/31/06).
Perspective from Interstate 84 and U.S. 30 West
This mileage sign on westbound Interstate 84/U.S. 30 provides the distance to Exit 180, Westland Road; the junction with Interstate 82 (Exit 179); and the control city of Portland. Photo taken by AARoads (08/28/06).
The two-mile advance sign for Interstate 82 provides for a destination city of Umatilla (near McNary Dam) and Kennewick (one of the Tri-Cities in Washington). Photo taken by AARoads (08/28/06).
Use Interstate 82 north (west) to Umatilla, McNary Dam (on the Columbia River), and Irrigon (via westbound Interstate 82 to westbound U.S. 730). Photo taken by AARoads (08/28/06).
The Columbia River only has a handful of crossings (six) between Hermiston and Portland: Interstate 82/U.S. 395 at Umatilla, U.S. 97 at Biggs, U.S. 197 at The Dalles, Oregon 35/Washington 141 at Hood River/White Salmon, the Bridge of the Gods at Cascade Locks, and Interstate 205. Of these, U.S. 97/Biggs Rapids Bridge has certain truck restrictions, so a preferable route may be Interstate 82 for trucks planning to use U.S. 97. Photo taken by AARoads (08/28/06).
Westbound Interstate 84/U.S. 30 reach Exit 180, Westland Road. The next exit is Exit 179, Junction Interstate 82 west (north) to Umatilla and the Tri-Cities (Richland, Pasco, and Kennewick). Photo taken by AARoads (08/28/06).
Use Interstate 82 (Exit 179) north (west) to Umatilla, the Tri-Cities of Washington (Richland, Pasco, and Kennewick), and Yakima. (Of course, U.S. 97 is a faster route from Portland to Yakima via eastbound Interstate 84.) Photo taken by AARoads (08/28/06).
Immediately after the Westland Road interchange, westbound Interstate 84/U.S. 30 approach Exit 179, Junction Interstate 82. Interstate 82 travels north to Umatilla, where it meets U.S. 730 and merges with northbound U.S. 395 to cross the Columbia River. Once it enters Washington, it continues north, even bending a bit northeast, until U.S. 395 splits off toward Kennewick and Pasco. After leaving the Tri-Cities area, Interstate 82 travels west toward Yakima, then turns north again to meet Interstate 90 near Ellensburg. Photo taken by AARoads (08/28/06).
Interstate 84/U.S. 30 west reach Exit 179, Junction Interstate 82. This is a tri-level stack interchange, with the stack forming at the point where the ramp from eastbound Interstate 84/U.S. 30 to northbound Interstate 82 forms the top level, the mainline of Interstate 84 forms the second level, and the ramp from southbound Interstate 82 to Interstate 84/U.S. 30 east forms the bottom level. Photo taken by AARoads (08/28/06).
Now on the ramp from Interstate 84/U.S. 30 west to Interstate 82, the single lane immediately becomes concrete. It merges with traffic incoming from Interstate 84/U.S. 30 east. Photo taken by AARoads (08/28/06).
Perspective from Interstate 84 and U.S. 30 East
The first mileage sign that shows the distance to the Interstate 82 interchange is immediately prior to the U.S. 730 interchange (Exit 168). U.S. 730 follows the Columbia River Highway northeast toward Umatilla and Walla Walla. A fast two-lane highway, U.S. 730 can be a quicker route to Interstate 82 than following Interstate 84 east to Interstate 82 north. However, Interstate 84 offers freeway to freeway access to Interstate 82. Photo taken by AARoads (08/28/06).
After the U.S. 730 interchange near Heppner, this mileage sign on eastbound Interstate 84 and U.S. 30 provides the distance to the junction with Interstate 82 near Umatilla. Photo taken by AARoads (08/28/06).
Continuing east, the two-mile advance sign for Interstate 82 (Exit 179) appears prior to Exit 177, Umatilla Army Depot. Photo taken by AARoads (08/28/06).
Use Interstate 82 (Exit 179) north (west) to Umatilla, the Tri-Cities of Washington (Richland, Pasco, and Kennewick), and Yakima. (Of course, U.S. 97 is a faster route from Portland to Yakima via eastbound Interstate 84.) Photo taken by AARoads (08/28/06).
Interstate 82 also forms part of the fastest route from Portland to Spokane. Follow Interstate 82 north to U.S. 395 north, then follow U.S. 395 north until it merges with Interstate 90 east. Interstate 90 enters Spokane, then continues into Idaho. For travels into Canada via U.S. 395 or U.S. 95, use Interstate 82 north to U.S. 395 to Interstate 90. In addition to Spokane, Interstate 82 also passes by the McNary Dam of the Columbia River as it leaves Oregon and enters Washington. Photo taken by AARoads (08/28/06).
Interstate 84/U.S. 30 eastbound reaches Exit 179, Junction Interstate 82. This interchange marks the current southern terminus of Interstate 82, but there are always considerations that Interstate 82 might be extended south to join the U.S. 97 corridor to Bend and Klamath Falls. However, such an extension is a long way away. Photo taken by AARoads (08/28/06).
Perspective from Interstate 82 North (West)
The first interchange on westbound (northbound) Interstate 82 is Exit 10, Westland Road. At this point, Interstate 82 enters the Umatilla Army Depot and will remain there until it reaches Umatilla. Photo taken by AARoads (08/28/06).
Northbound Interstate 82 reaches Exit 10, Westland Road. The freeway angles north to serve Umatilla and cross the Columbia River into Washington. Photo taken by AARoads (08/28/06).
On the Westland Road overpass, a mileage sign is posted that provides the distance to Umatilla (nine miles), Kennewick (33 miles), and Yakima (109 miles). While there is a reassurance shield posted on the overhead sign, another is posted on the roadside ahead. Photo taken by AARoads (08/28/06).
This is the first reassurance shield for Interstate 82 west. It is located along one of the few stretches of Interstate 82 that are not joined with a U.S. highway. At Umatilla, U.S. 395 will join Interstate 82; they part ways near Kennewick, but U.S. 12 joins Interstate 82 near Richland. At Yakima, U.S. 12 leaves Interstate 82, but U.S. 97 joins for the remainder of the route north to Ellensburg and Junction Interstate 90. Photo taken by AARoads (08/28/06).

Sources:

  1. Andy Ransom, Personal Email ("AARoads feedback: I-82 historic routes"), Tuesday, May 16, 2006.
  2. Interstate 50th Anniversary: The Story of Oregonís Interstates
  3. "Eastern Oregon waits for new highway," by James Sinks, The Bulletin

Page Updated September 10, 2006.

 
Mileage

State Washington
Mileage 132.57
Cities Ellensburg, Yakima, Toppenish, Sunnyside, Grandview, Richland, Kennewick
Junctions Interstate 90, Interstate 182
State Oregon
Mileage 11.01
Cities Hermiston
Junctions Interstate 84
TOTAL 143.58
Source: October 31, 2002 Interstate Route Log and Finders List
Interstate 82 Annual Average Daily Traffic

State Location AADT Composite Year
Washington Yakima 43,000 2002
Washington West Richland 17,000 2002
Washington south of Richland 6,700 2002
Oregon Umatilla 16,100 2002
Oregon SW of Hermiston 9,300 2002
Source: 2002 Annual Traffic Report (WSDOT)
Complete Interstate 82 AADT data.

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