By Loren Grube, Publisher
What many in Loon Lake have been waiting for is finally coming to fruition this summer – a roundabout will be installed at the “Four Corners” intersection (Hwy 395 and Hwy 292/Gardenspot Road) in Loon Lake, with construction beginning around August 8, according to WSDOT engineer, Pete Corley.
The roundabout is expected to improve safety and traffic flow while reducing delays for the Loon Lake and Deer Lake communities traveling on Hwy 292 and Gardenspot Road, crossing over and entering onto Hwy 395.
Previous attempts to improve safety at the intersection included the installation of orange-colored (non-mandatory) “Reduce speed to 45 mph” signs on Hwy 395 situated just prior to the intersection, but evidence showed that most travelers ignored the signs and continued their speed of 60 m.p.h., making the Four Corners intersection high on the list for traffic collisions.
As of May 1, 2020, twenty collisions had occurred at the intersection, involving 21 vehicles and resulting in 41 injuries, according to WSDOT data. This ranked the Loon Lake Four Corners intersection #2 in traffic collisions out of five nearby intersections, four of which had roundabouts. This data was reported in an article in the May 2020 edition of Loon Lake Times (now South Stevens County Times) along with the results from a community survey we put out, where 74% of participants were in favor of a roundabout to improve safety at the intersection.
Since then, additional accidents have occurred at or near the intersection.
WSDOT stated that funding was not available for a roundabout in Loon Lake at that time. However, in February 2021, the Loon Lake intersection was officially selected for inclusion in WSDOT’s 2022 construction program, with funding of $9,006,842 for a Compact (lower cost) Roundabout officially approved in March of this year.
Project Timeline: August – October 2022
There will be two parts to the project:
Part 1: This portion of the project will take place along 12 miles of roadway on Hwy 395 in Stevens County between Hafer Road and Hwy 292 (Loon Lake “Four Corners”).
Construction includes grinding out the top layer of existing pavement and repaving it to make the roadway smoother. Deep pavement repair will take place in targeted areas, said Pete Corley, WSDOT Project Engineer.
Part 2: A Compact Roundabout will be installed at the Hwy 292 and Hwy 395 intersection in Loon Lake. A compact roundabout is a smaller (lower-cost) roundabout and is expected to improve traffic flow and increase safety at the intersection.
WSDOT will work with the contractor to try to complete the roundabout by the end of August, said Corley.
On July 1, the WSDOT Roundabout contract was awarded to Shamrock Paving. Due to delays in awarding the contract, the project start date will be delayed as well, and is expected to begin around August 8. The contractor sets the actual work schedule, which has to be completed within 47 weekdays, said Corley. A timeline will be made available to the public in two ways: on the WSDOT construction website and through emails sent out by Corley.
Impacts to Travelers on Hwy 395, Hwy 292, and Gardenspot Road
The Paving portion of the project will take place at night between 7 p.m. and 6 a.m. The highway will be repaved one lane at a time, causing single lane closures with flagging stations and one-way traffic traveling through the work zone. Travelers can expect to wait no more than 20 minutes.
The Roundabout portion of the project will take place all hours of the day and is expected to be completed by the end of August. Closures and detours can be in place for up to 15 consecutive days. North and south traffic on Hwy 395 can always traverse through the roundabout construction. However, those traveling on the east and west sides of Hwy 395 will follow signed detours.
Those on Hwy 292 will detour onto Maple Street, and those on Garden Spot will have to detour south to Clayton. Detours are in place for normal and commercial traffic. However, emergency traffic will have access to move through the roundabout construction zones at any time.
Once the roundabout is in place, any legal vehicle will be able to travel through the roundabout as designed, using the designated lanes. Oversized vehicles that require permits will need to traverse over the center island. The compact roundabout will have a smooth concrete center, unlike traditional roundabouts, which typically contain shrubs or brick.
The public will be updated about the WSDOT Roundabout Project in two ways:
- Through the project website at https://wsdot.wa.gov/construction-planning/search-projects/us-395-loon-lake-hafer-road-paving-roundabout
- Notifications by email, based on WSDOT’s distribution list. To request to have your email address added to this distribution list, contact Pete Corley, Project Engineer at (509) 324-6231.
WSDOT believes this compact roundabout and paving improvements will significantly reduce severe crashes and increase safety for the traveling public. During the design process, they have been working hard to minimize impacts, and realize travelers will be inconvenienced. If you have questions or concerns, you may reach Pete Corley at (509) 324-6231.