The roundabout is being constructed at Five Corners, the intersection where Main Street, 84th Avenue W., 212th Street SW, and Bowdoin Way converge.
It's an ideal place to install the roundabout, and should reduce traffic delays at the intersection, said Phil Williams, the city's public works director.
Now, there's a stop sign at each corner. “You're looking at four people pointing (their cars) at you and thinking whose turn is it now?” he said. “There's a lot of hesitations.”
The roundabout is expected to decrease congestion at the intersection and increase safety, he said. Pedestrians should feel safer crossing the intersection, with designated crosswalks.
“The roundabout really does make it very clear where the pedestrians and where the cars are supposed to be,” Williams said.
Talk of installing a roundabout at an intersection now used by 16,000 vehicles a day dates back to 1996, Williams said. It has been included in city planning documents since at least 2009.
Nevertheless, when construction actually got under way in May, some people were surprised. Flaggers are posted at the intersection to help with traffic on weekdays, but in the evenings and on weekends, drivers must simply stop at each of the five corners and look for safe passage.
The project also involves installation of underground power lines, a new water main and storm water pipes. While construction work is under way, 84th Avenue W. is temporarily closed. Access is provided to area businesses. The street is scheduled to reopen on Aug. 4 if there are no further rain delays.
A federal grant which provides money for projects that reduce congestion and improve air quality paid for 86 percent of the costs of the roundabout project. Some steps, such as installation of storm and sewer lines the city wanted to replace, didn't qualify for the grant.
Williams said many people may think the city already has a roundabout at the downtown intersection of Fifth Avenue and Main Street. But with its small design and stop signs at each corner, that doesn't qualify as a roundabout. “It's a lovely intersection but it isn't a roundabout,” Williams said.
The installation of the city's first roundabout may be its last. “I'm not sure where else in town it would make good sense to build one,” he said. “There's a couple spots where people could build a mini-roundabout, but not a full-sized modern roundabout.”
Sharon Salyer: 425-339-3486 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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