It's being called one of the biggest traffic jams on Interstate 90 in the Cascades in years. And, it could have been prevented.

Washington State Department of Transportation officials say the massive Labor Day Weekend traffic jams that were stalling drivers on I-90 and Snoqualmie pass was due to a surprise walkout by a major construction labor union.

According to The Washington Policy Center (WPC) this week, analysis of the jams revealed the WSDOT was weeks behind on a series of repaving projects in and around the pass, and that resulted in one-lane traffic and construction zones that backed up drivers for tens of miles if not more.

WPC says August tends to be one of the busiest times for road construction in Washington state. Teamsters Local 174, who performed concrete and other construction duties, literally walked off the job a few weeks before the holiday because of a dispute over pay. WPC says the workers left concrete trucks and other equipment unattended, some with the engines still running!

WCP reports the majority of the workers were already getting up to $30 an hour, and during re-negotiations, had rejected a 12 percent raise offer from the WSDOT. This walk off meant drivers were facing huge delays. According to the WPC:

"The uncompleted project that left thousands of drivers stuck in traffic was the rebuilding of bridge decks just west of the pass.  The project was supposed to be completed well before the Labor Day weekend, to make all travel lanes available to vacationing families.

Out of concern for the traveling public, DOT officials did not want to add construction slow-downs to the most heavily travelled pass on one of the most heavily travelled weekends of the year. "

WPC says the ironic part of these strikes is that taxpayers end up paying more. Strikes cause delays in projects, which then raise the cost of completing the project, meaning the labor union ends up making more money.

So, that's why so many of you were stuck on the Pass during the Labor Day holiday.


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