Northwest NEWS

March 4, 2002


Roundabout would offer long term solution to problem

This comes in response to a recent letter opposing a roundabout at the State Route 202/148th Avenue Northeast (Hollywood Hill) intersection.
   SR 202 is the only major arterial route through the Sammamish Valley and Hollywood Hill intersection and the only access point connecting the southern valley to the Woodinville area. This intersection has been a concern long before the city incorporated in 1993 due to its congestion problems and safety. In the past 20 years improvements have been made at this intersection, including widening and signal changes, but have only provided short-term improvements.
   In 1999 the city of Woodinville began a public process to investigate long-term solutions for this intersection. This included two workshops, a number of public meetings, individual meetings and presentations.
   Initially in the investigation process, conventional methods of intersection improvements were explored. All showed only projected short-term improvements and had a significant negative impact to the adjoining businesses by requiring additional land, more road widening and restriction of access driveway turning movements.
   Also, prevention of pedestrian and vehicle conflicts became more of a problem over the existing facility. Environmental impacts became an emerging issue as needed widening improvement almost doubled the surface water runoff that drained into Derby Creek.
   The roundabout was considered only after the conventional intersection type improvements had been completely studied and the cost and impacts were determined. The process for the roundabout also involved a number of public outreach efforts.
   What was found was that the roundabout could provide a longer term solution to traffic congestion at a lower construction cost and with significantly less impacts to the businesses, adjacent properties, surface water runoff drainage, and operational and maintenance costs.
   Other benefits of a roundabout over the traditional intersection were a significant reduction in serious accidents, improved pedestrian and bike safety, access roadways requiring fewer lanes, reduction in vehicle emissions and visual attractiveness.
   After nearly two years of review and study on the roundabout option for the Hollywood Hill intersection, the city found that the vast majority of those participating in the meetings were providing support.
   In the last public meeting, the City Council made a commitment to design a roundabout with the minimum amount of impact to the businesses.
   No discussion has been made regarding the elimination of any businesses or loss of parking through the construction of this project.
   A roundabout is not a new concept or an unproven traffic solution. Europe, Asia and Australia have been using them for many decades with success.
   They are relatively new to the United States since the 1980s and have recently been recognized by the federal government and Washington State Department of Transportation as solutions to high congestion intersections. Washington state has a number of already successfully operating roundabouts and many more in the planning and design stage.
   Roundabouts appear to be an economical solution to congestion and safety problems at many high congestion intersections. The challenge now for government is to educate the public on the many benefits of roundabouts and for the public to get accustomed to using them.
   Mick Monken, P.E.
   Director of Public Works,
   City of Woodinville