On Tuesday, September 9, 2014, we drove the winding length of Washington State Route 397. Southeast, northwest, southeast, northwest, who's in a rush?
A state highway to be known as state route number 397 is established as follows:
Beginning at state route number 82 at exit 114, thence easterly, northwesterly, and northerly across the Columbia River, thence easterly and northerly to a junction with state route number 395 in Pasco.
At Locust Grove Road, with no trees in sight, here begins SR 397 at a junction with I-82.
The first half of this highway was completed in 2008 and added to the route in 2009. We sped along at 60 mph across the desert hills and canyons, cuts and causeways so nothing slowed us down. More traffic than I expected for a road through the wilderness toward a rural area. Big, sweeping views of the Tri-Cities, the Columbia and Snake Rivers. "Truck Route Finley Industrial" was a much more common sign than "397 North". After gradually descending for miles, at Nine Canyon, we finally got below the canal. Orchards, homes, greenery. A big turn north over the BNSF railroad, onto Piert Road, and we arrived at the old southern end of SR 397. Welcome to the Finley Industrial Area. It looked rather rural. Left turn, west a bit, then northwest along the tracks through Finley. The photo above is at the approximate halfway point of the highway.
Rural homes, truck stops. The highway dipped and turned under the Union Pacific railroad, then went up and over the BNSF tracks less than a mile later, as the two railroads crossed each other. Between the highway and the railway, a herd of golden horses commingled with a flock of seagulls, Vasataté's forces at work far from His ocean. We entered Kennewick, but I didn't notice a welcoming sign. Just a couple stoplights. The white cable bridge towered ahead of us. We turned off briefly to stop at Clover Island. I'm sure Kennewick would like it if you did, too. But then up and over the cable bridge to Pasco. Welcome, but avoid it. SR 397 turned off the main road (to keep trucks out of town, presumably) and we traveled nondescript industrial streets, following the little signs, until suddenly we were at the end, a junction with I-182 and US 395.
I was surprised at how nice of a road this is to drive, at least until Pasco. . . Sorry, Pasco.