By Amy Daybert Herald Writer
SULTAN — Expect delays as long as 90 minutes on U.S. 2 as crews start building a roundabout on the highway this weekend.
The state Department of Transportation is telling people to avoid the town unless they really need to go there. Construction is expected to start Sunday and last five days.
“Unfortunately if you’ve ever driven through Sultan, especially on a weekend, you know it gets busy,” spokeswoman Bronlea Mishler said. “Driving through Sultan with one lane is going to make it even more congested.”
Crews are set to narrow the highway at Rice Road to one lane at 7 p.m. to begin the work. The around-the-clock closure is expected to remain in effect until 6 p.m. April 13, when the roundabout will open to traffic.
“Yes, we know that’s Friday the 13th,” Mishler said.
The construction was originally planned this past week but was postponed because of bad weather.
Drivers traveling through the 1,600-foot stretch during the work period should expect delays up to an hour and a half, Mishler said. About 14,000 vehicles go through the area each day, according to the Department of Transportation.
People can help limit traffic along the stretch by not driving U.S. 2 between 1 and 9 p.m., using an alternate route like I-90, or by working from home, Mishler added.
Another project on U.S. 2 is expected to begin Monday 10 miles east in Index. A giant concrete panel left its mark on the Anderson Creek bridge when it slid off a truck two winters ago and crushed the bridge railing, according to the Department of Transportation. Crews made emergency repairs after the accident, but will be making a permanent fix starting Monday.
Construction crews plan to close one lane of the bridge around the clock for up to 19 days to repair the bridge railing and repave a portion of the bridge deck. The lane is expected to reopen April 27. Fewer cars use that part of the highway so delays are expected only to last 10 minutes.
“There’s never an ideal time to close down a lane on U.S. 2,” Dave Crisman, project engineer, said in a statement. “We can’t work in the snow, but we also don’t want to delay summer travelers. April is an ideal time to get in, repair the bridge and be gone by the time traffic starts picking up later this spring.”
On the Sultan project, crews plan to build the center island and driving lanes of the roundabout, put down the first layer of pavement and install new lighting, striping and signs during the closure. Additional paving and striping will occur later this summer but are not expected to cause major delays, Mishler said.
“It will basically be done for the most part when we open it on Friday,” she said. “We may have an occasional lane closure later but nothing like we’re going to see this week.”
The roundabout is designed to reduce the risk of serious collisions. The intersection was the site of 20 collisions in a five-year period. Eleven of those collisions involved drivers turning on and off the highway.
A temporary roundabout was part of expanding an intersection on U.S. 2/Highway 97 in Wenatchee, Mishler said. That roundabout was in place from April to May 2011 and was taken down once the work was complete.
Amy Daybert: 425-339-3491; firstname.lastname@example.org.