Roundabout work to delay traffic in Olympia

Officials say to expect ‘big commuter pain’ from construction on an often-traveled route

Staff writerApril 17, 2014 


The intersection of 22nd Avenue at Boulevard Road in Olympia can get quite busy, as shown here Thursday. The city of Olympia plans to install a roundabout at the intersection. Work would begin in May.

TONY OVERMAN — Staff photographer Buy Photo

Construction of a roundabout at Boulevard Road Southeast and 22nd Avenue Southeast will affect thousands of vehicles a day, according to Olympia officials.

Construction is slated to begin in mid-May and to conclude this fall. Daytime traffic at the intersection will be manned by a traffic controller and restricted to one lane. When contractors are off-site, one lane in each direction will be open.

The city will install signs that notify drivers of alternate routes. However, city planners warn that there will be no easy or official detours to avoid the construction zone. Drivers will find very few street connections to Boulevard Road between Pacific Avenue to the north and Yelm Highway to the south.

“On a scale of 1 to 10, this is a 9 in terms of big commuter pain,” City Manager Steve Hall said at Tuesday night’s City Council meeting. “It will be worth it when we’re done.”

The pain may be worst for those who need to access Boulevard Road between 18th Avenue and Log Cabin Road, said Mark Russell, the city’s director of transportation.

“This construction project is a perfect example of the importance of a well-connected street system,” Russell told the council Tuesday.

The project will create more sidewalks and better traffic flow for motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians. The average daily traffic count for Boulevard Road is about 10,000 vehicles, according to the city.

The roundabout contract was awarded to Active Construction, which submitted the lowest of seven bids at $2,076,362. The bid is slightly higher than the city’s original estimate of about $2 million.

This will be the second of three roundabouts along Boulevard Road as part of a plan adopted by the City Council in 2006. The first roundabout at Boulevard and Log Cabin roads was completed in 2010. The third roundabout will be built at Boulevard and Morse-Merryman roads starting in 2016, Russell said.

The council also awarded a contract Tuesday for a paving project on Fifth Avenue in downtown Olympia. The lowest of four bidders was Rognlin’s Inc. at $335,000, which is about $5,000 higher than the city’s original estimate.

The project will add new curbs and sidewalks between Water Street and Capitol Way. Contractors will remove one westbound lane and widen the sidewalk between Capitol Way and Columbia Street. The lane’s removal will have a minimal effect on traffic because streets in downtown Olympia form a well-connected grid that gives drivers other options, Russell said. Construction is slated to start in May and finish by mid-July.

Andy Hobbs: 360-704-6869

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