OLYMPIA - Construction is set to begin later this month on two new roundabouts on 18th Avenue at Fones Road and Hoffman Road. Other improvements will include repaving, bike lanes, sidewalks, street lights, sewer, stormwater and underground utilities.
Before the $2.2 million project can begin, the Olympia Fire Department on Saturday will burn down a house at 3334 18th Ave. as part of a training exercise. The house would be too close to one of the planned roundabouts. The street will be closed to through traffic while the burn is under way.
Another house, also acquired by the city, will be demolished later this month, aid Jim Rioux, the project manager for the city.
Johansen Excavating of Buckley was awarded the contract for the 18th Avenue project, he said.
“We’re hoping to get them out there before the end of March, and they are ready to go,” he said.
Construction should wrap up before Nov. 1, Rioux said.
Rioux said the roundabouts are meant to help clear up congestion at the 18th Avenue intersections at Fones and Hoffman roads.
Rioux said the plan is to maintain traffic through the area while work is under way, but that there may be occasional shutdowns.
The roundabouts are part of $24.3 million in transportation projects the city approved last year, in part to stimulate the economy. The other projects are a roundabout at Boulevard and Log Cabin roads and widening Harrison Avenue from Yauger Way to the College Station subdivision near Kaiser Road.
The city held an open house Monday at Westminster Presbyterian Church on Boulevard Road to inform neighbors. People there were wary but optimistic.
“I think it would be interesting to see how the roundabouts are going to go,” said Barbara Shincke, whose backyard backs up to the proposed new sidewalk, part of the improvements. “I’m sure it will be better than it is now.”
Now, it’s difficult for residents to turn from Fones or Hoffman onto busy 18th Avenue. “It’ll be nice to have the people at an even flow,” Shincke said.
She said she is concerned, though, about privacy issues with a sidewalk being constructed next to her back fence. “I guess I really don’t have a choice,” she said.
That said, she said she likes the ideas of roundabouts, that they’re the same concept as merging into freeway traffic.
Sharon Matthews, on the other hand, isn’t a fan of traffic circles. “Most of my close calls,” she said, “have been in roundabouts.”
Matthews, who lives in the area off Fones Road, said she’s trying to stay positive about the project, but isn’t looking forward to the noise.
“I can’t see how this is going to make it easier for me to get out” in traffic, she said.
Matt Batcheldor: 360-704-6869