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Interstate 90 at Snoqualmie Pass, a crucial artery in Washington’s transportation network, has recently witnessed an abrupt yet temporary closure due to extreme weather conditions and resulting vehicle spinouts. This event, although resolved with the reopening of the pass, brings to light significant legal considerations surrounding weather-induced road closures and their impact on transportation and public safety.

The Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) played a pivotal role in managing this crisis, ensuring public safety by halting traffic along I-90. Legal mandates authorize such entities to close roads for safety reasons, including severe weather conditions like heavy snowfall, which was the case at Snoqualmie Pass.

Safety is paramount, and the legal system upholds this principle by empowering authorities to take necessary actions during hazardous weather. The closure of I-90, following multiple vehicle spinouts and challenging weather forecasts, was a legally sound decision prioritizing public welfare.

Liability and Road Closures

In scenarios like the Snoqualmie Pass closure, questions of liability often arise. Who is responsible if a road closure leads to delays or accidents? Typically, state departments are shielded from liability if they act within their legal mandate and make decisions based on safety considerations.

The Impact on Commercial and Individual Drivers

The temporary closure of I-90 impacted numerous travelers and commercial entities. Legally, while inconvenience is acknowledged, the overarching necessity for public safety overrides the temporary losses incurred by such closures. However, it raises questions about the rights of drivers and businesses during prolonged or frequent closures.

Compensation and Insurance Considerations

Individuals and businesses may wonder about compensation for losses due to road closures. Generally, direct compensation from the state is unlikely unless negligence can be proven. However, insurance policies may cover some losses, making it essential for drivers and businesses to understand their insurance terms in the context of such events.

The Snoqualmie Pass incident serves as a reminder of the unpredictability of weather and its potential impact on road safety and transportation. Legal preparedness involves understanding the rights and responsibilities of both authorities and citizens in such scenarios.

Staying Informed and Prepared

Staying updated with weather forecasts and road conditions is crucial. Legal obligations also extend to drivers, who must equip their vehicles for winter conditions and drive responsibly to prevent incidents like spinouts.


The reopening of I-90 at Snoqualmie Pass marks the end of a challenging episode for the region. It underscores the importance of a balanced approach between ensuring public safety and minimizing disruptions. As we navigate through similar situations in the future, understanding the legal landscape becomes imperative for all stakeholders involved.

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About Blanford Law:

We are no-nonsense, relentless, fair, and honest. We are great listeners instead of fast talkers, that is just who we are. More than 20 years ago, Ken began practicing law with a deeply-seeded belief that every person has the right to the best legal representation available. He built his law firm on that belief. Another belief that he strongly adheres to is his fundamental belief that clients deserve respect, with no assumptions or preconceived notions.  If you or someone you know is accused of a crime or injured as a result of the negligence of another, please have them call us at 253-720-9304 or email us