City officials know this and believe a potential fix for some traffic congestion is set to be constructed in the spring.
Two new mini-roundabouts are planned along N. Davies Road near the north access of the shopping center also known as Frontier Village. While the roundabouts won't solve every traffic problem at the center, the project is one that can be completed quickly and is relatively inexpensive when compared with other traffic-control devices, city public works director Mick Monken said.
"People keep on referring to Frontier Village as this complex where you can get in but you can't get out," Monken said. "If we don't improve circulation in the area it may not maximize its yield."
A roundabout is a circular intersection. It keeps traffic moving because vehicles don't need to stop if no other traffic is in the circle. The two mini-roundabouts planned at the intersection of Vernon Road and N. Davies Road and at the north access into the shopping center are expected to cost a total of $25,000.
Although still being designed by the city, the roundabouts are planned to be about 60 feet in diameter and would include an inner circle of up to 28 feet in diameter. Full-sized roundabouts are generally closer to 110 feet in diameter and can cost up to $800,000, Monken said.
The mini-roundabouts do not require the city to buy right-of-way because they need little to no reconstruction of an existing intersection. They are also designed to be negotiated by large semi-trucks and trailers.
The idea for the fixtures was brought to the city by a consultant working on improving traffic circulation at the shopping area. Edward Koltonowski, president of Gibson Traffic Consultants, suggested the mini-roundabouts would work at the two locations.
Mini-roundabouts aren't common, Koltonowski said. "There aren't that many in the United States," he said. "Many other countries have moved toward this type of roundabout."
Koltonowski told the city that the Federal Highway Administration was looking for cities to model the mini-roundabouts. The city's project was recently chosen as part of a national study, Monken said.
Work on a long-range plan for Lake Stevens Center began in 2010 and is expected to address other traffic circulation problems. The mini-roundabouts can provide some congestion relief and improve pedestrian safety before other changes can be made, Monken said.
The council approved funds for the project in the city's 2012 budget, but the project isn't a done deal, Monken added. The city is surveying both locations and plans then to begin designing the devices. A public meeting about the mini-roundabouts likely will occur early next year.
Construction is expected, with good weather, to take about a week from start to finish. People can expect to see changes in the area a couple of weeks before construction begins, Monken said. For example, the two-way stop at one planned roundabout location will likely become a four-way stop until yield signs are placed in the roundabout circle. This should help drivers adjust to the roundabout, Monken added.
"If this is a success, we can use this for other areas," he said. "I'm very hopeful that this turns out to be a success."
Two full-sized roundabouts in the city are also scheduled to be built in 2013.
The state is planning to build them along Highway 92 at 99th Avenue NE and at 113th Avenue NE.
Amy Daybert: 425-339-3491; firstname.lastname@example.org.
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