West Co. crews begin work on this $1.25 million project in two weeks
MATTAWA – Crews will begin work April 14 on a single-lane roundabout where SR 243 intersects with Road 24 SW in Mattawa.
Washington State Department of Transportation engineers developed this project to reduce the risk of crashes. This rural Grant County intersection averages about 5,800 vehicles per day and, during the five years from 2007 to 2012, saw 21 collisions involving 43 vehicles. Nine of those crashes resulted in two fatalities and 22 serious injuries. Twelve others resulted in damaged property. Half of the crashes were on Road 24 SW and half on SR 243, so improvements are designed for easier and safer access for motorists getting on and off both the highway and the county road.
This roundabout on a 60 mph highway is a first-of-its-kind project here, although many lower speed/high volume roundabouts are operating successfully at intersections on state highways, county roads and city streets all across the state.
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, roundabouts reduce fatalities by 90 percent, injuries by 80 percent and total collisions by almost 40 percent. They handle higher volumes of traffic more efficiently than at-grade intersections with stop signs or signals. By their design, they reduce traffic speed which reduces the potential for serious collisions.
A roundabout was chosen as the preferred alternative following a comprehensive outreach effort over the past two years that included media advertising, direct mail brochures, open houses in Mattawa and Desert Aire, as well as many meetings with local officials.
“We heard one message loud and clear,” said Project Engineer Josh Patrick, “It wasn’t enough just to choose a roundabout design, we also needed to continue our outreach to show people how to drive it, and that’s what we’re doing.”
Until the work starts, outreach to area residents and SR 243 users about the project continues with bilingual project information; newsletters; media news releases; electronic KIOSKs at City Hall, the high school and other locations. In addition, flyers are coming home from school, more newspaper ads are coming and electronic signs are being set up on the shoulder of the highway.
The project is planned to be complete by Memorial Day, except for the permanent signs and striping that will be installed by mid-June.
During construction two-way traffic will be maintained at all times, however, the highway speed limit will be reduced and flaggers will control traffic during some stages of the work. Most of the construction will be done during daylight hours. Paving work will be done at night to impact the fewest travelers and keep the traffic through the work zone to a minimum.
The SR 243 Intersection Improvement Web page includes a map and photos, as well as videos in Spanish and English that show how to drive through a roundabout: www.wsdot.wa.gov/Projects/SR243/intersectionimprovements/
Hyperlinks within the release:
• Roundabout locations: www.wsdot.wa.gov/Safety/roundabouts/washingtons.htm
• Project information: www.wsdot.wa.gov/projects/sr243/intersectionimprovements/