Expect higher travel times but then fewer loose rocks on state Route 7 near La Grande

Drivers going to Alder Lake or Mount Rainier National Park on state Route 7 should add about 10 minutes to their travel time beginning mid-July.

Washington State Department of Transportation contractor crews will begin work on a $1.3 million project to stabilize the hillside between La Grande and Alder, Mileposts 23 and 25, as early as July 15.

Cara Mitchell, spokesperson for the department, said the last time crews were on the route was in 2013, but it was in a different section. Drivers will face the same type of closures they experienced back then.

Between 6 a.m. and 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday, drivers will need to take a detour through Eatonville using state Route 161 and Alder Cutoff Road East. Local access will be provided on Route 7 up to the work zone, according to the project web page.

On Fridays, Route 7 will have alternating one-way traffic from 6 a.m. to noon. After noon Friday and until Monday morning, the road will be open for use. The same is true during the week between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m.

Drivers will be able to access real-time traffic activity through the WSDOT app. Mitchell said the project is expected to be completed this fall, although another smaller project might begin around the same area, so drivers might still encounter alternating traffic.

Information for the second project has not yet been released. Mitchell said the start date for work on Route 7 might be pushed back, but the department will update the project page with more information if necessary.

The contract for the project was awarded to Boettcher & Sons Inc. on June 3.