Roundabout approved for Loon Lake intersection

By Deanne Darlene Impecoven, Reporter

As the world was starting to learn how to work from home in March of 2020, two members of the Loon Lake Times and several members of WSDOT (Washington State Department of Transportation) began meeting virtually to discuss the need for a roundabout at the Loon Lake Four Corners intersection on U.S. Route 395 at Washington State Route 292 and Garden Spot Road. Two articles published in the Loon Lake Times during 2020 (May and July editions) presented extensive research detailing the following information:

  • Accidents at the intersection between 2014 and 2020 comparative to other intersections along Hwy 395
  • Results of a community survey tallying use of the intersection and desired changes
  • Improvements implemented by WSDOT at the intersection in recent years
  • Benefits of implementing a roundabout at the intersection

FUNDING

During our communication with WSDOT over a six-month period, which culminated in a virtual community meeting, the answer to Loon Lake receiving a roundabout was adamantly “no”. WSDOT explained this was due to a lack of funds available in the regional WSDOT budget because of the fiscal crisis. Fortunately, seven months later, on March 10, 2021, WSDOT informed us that the Loon Lake intersection was approved as part of a state-wide WSDOT funded initiative created to fund low-cost solutions to improve safety. The Loon Lake intersection was submitted by the regional WSDOT office as a compact roundabout candidate and was approved as one of only 10 intersections statewide to receive funding under this initiative.

Costs of the Loon Lake Project:
Paving:
Design $ 361,400
Construction $ 4,586,800
Roundabout:
Pre-Design $ 50,800
Design $ 118,220
Construction $ 658,495

What is a “COMPACT” ROUNDABOUT?

A modern roundabout is a circular intersection in which drivers travel counterclockwise around a center island. A roundabout usually contains no traffic signals or stop signs. Upon approaching the roundabout, drivers yield to vehicles already in the roundabout and enter as space is available, then exit the roundabout at their desired road. WSDOT explains that a “compact roundabout” is a mini roundabout with an interior circle diameter between 65 to 120 feet that allows trucks to traverse the center when necessary.
The Loon Lake roundabout will be a total of 95 feet in diameter with a 60-foot diameter concrete center leaving 17.5-foot lanes on either side. As with most compact roundabouts, it will require no additional roadway pavement width or right of way for construction; therefore, it will not affect adjacent property owners or require additional land purchase.This allows minimal design to be involved and the use of practical design solutions. This roundabout will have a completely mountable concrete center island with a slight grade and rolled curb to allow large trucks to traverse the center. It will be similar to a single-lane roundabout in size, use the same design, vehicle assumptions and size to process traffic volumes, and use similar signage.
The Loon Lake roundabout will not have sidewalks. However, a pedestrian crosswalk will be incorporated into the design to provide safer highway crossing on foot and bicycle. A striped crosswalk with a splitter island will be painted at the approach to the roundabout with a halfway refuge area. This allows pedestrians to walk across one lane when it is clear, wait on a midway refuge island, and then proceed across the second lane when it is clear.

One suggestion to WSDOT was to add a custom community design on the concrete center of the roundabout. This type of amenity would be funded by the community and possibly contain a “Welcome to Loon Lake” message/design in or on the concrete itself. Community input is needed regarding this element of the roundabout. Please email Loren or Deanne at loonlaketimes@gmail.com.

Examples of Compact Roundabout

Below is a picture of the Loon Lake intersection with an overlay of the compact roundabout in Medical Lake at SR 902 & Craig Rd as an example of how the planned roundabout will look.

Below is a picture of the SR 902 & Craig Road roundabout at ground level.

WSDOT criteria for roundabout selection
WSDOT engineers have described the characteristics considered when determining the best solution for a particular intersection. These include:
Accident history – data about the number of accidents, type of crash, speeds, and other contributing factors.
Intersection operation – the level of current and projected travel delay experienced and backups on each road.
Types of vehicles using the intersection – especially important for intersections frequently used by large trucks.
Cost – includes the societal cost of accidents, right-of-way (land purchase) requirements, and long-term maintenance.

Roundabout Benefits

1. SAFETY
Roundabouts have been shown to reduce:

  • Injury collisions 75%
  • Overall collisions 37%
  • Fatality collisions 90%
  • Pedestrian collisions 40%
    Due to:
    – Low travel speeds
    – No lights to beat
    – One way travel

2. TRAFFIC FLOW IMPROVEMENTS
Roundabouts move traffic more quickly by promoting continuous flow of traffic, less congestion, and no waiting for lights.

3. LESS EXPENSIVE
Roundabouts are less expensive than lighted intersections in long term maintenance.

4. LESS SPACE REQUIRED THAN LIGHTED INTERSECTION

5. WORKS WITH OR WITHOUT POWER

6. PRESERVATION PAVING PROJECT

The roundabout project will be constructed concurrently with a preservation paving project from Loon Lake to Hafer Road on 395. Highway 395 will remain open with no detours.

Roundabout Timeline

  • WSDOT Virtual Public Meeting – To present preliminary plans April 20, 2021, 3:30 p.m. – 5:30 p.m. Register at: attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/4040253746846060560
  • WSDOT Online Open House – For community members to review and comment on the roundabout between April 15-30 at any time that best fits your schedule. engage.wsdot.wa.gov/us-395-loon-lake-intersection/
  • WSDOT Design: Summer 2021
  • WSDOT Second Virtual Public Meeting October 2021
  • WSDOT Bid Request: March 14, 2022
  • WSDOT Bid Opening: April 13, 2022
  • WSDOT Bid Award: May 28, 2022
  • Construction: June – October 2022

After Loon Lake Times brought awareness to WSDOT through research, community survey, articles, and virtual community meeting last year, even more justification piled up with accidents involving personal injury and property damage at the intersection. Fortunately, funding become available this year, and the US 395/SR 292 intersection in Loon Lake was selected as one of several compact roundabouts to be installed in the state of Washington.

 

Please continue to watch for updates on the Loon Lake Times Facebook page and in future editions of Loon Lake Times. You can also send your comments and questions regarding the roundabout to loonlaketimes@gmail.com.