Why round-a-bouts …why…

Love them or hate them more round-a-bouts are planned to be in our near driving future …So why round-a-bouts …according to Washington State Department of Transportation’s (WSDOT) MaryLou Shannon it comes down to safety. Shannon shared information at the Forks Chamber of Commerce meeting last Wednesday about round-a-bouts and other WSDOT projects planned in the near future.

The intersection of State Route 104 and Paradise Bay-Shine Road Jefferson County has a history of serious-injury collisions. According to Shannon studies have shown that roundabouts are safer than a traditional stop sign or signal-controlled intersection. Starting in spring 2023 work will start on a round-a-bout at that intersection. During construction, travelers can expect a temporary reduced speed limit, shifted lanes, and intermediate lane closures as crews build the roundabout in phases.

Also as early as May 2023, travelers can expect up to four total weekend closures of the SR 104 Hood Canal Bridge.

These weekend closures are expected to extend from 11 p.m. Friday to 4 a.m. Monday. Crews will also require a series of night intermittent closures to all travelers.

WSDOT will announce all closures when they are scheduled.

The SR 104 Hood Canal Bridge has massive hydraulic systems that lift, retract and extend the driving surface of the bridge. The movement creates an opening large enough for marine traffic.

A key element of the bridge helps keep both halves of the bridge together. The area, called a center lock, is similar to a door’s deadbolt. During this project, crews will bolster the center lock to better withstand tremendous forces, especially during powerful winter storms and fast-moving tides.

Crews also will make permanent repairs to another system called the pyramids. They help guide the bridge into dual receivers located on the second half of the bridge.

The closure will require calm water …so closures could be extended if needed.

Shannon also updated on a number of fish passage culverts and bridges that will take place now through 2026. Most of them are scheduled for a quick in and out using detours. But, there is a bunch of them!

Shannon shared that the Elwha bridge has gone out for bid. In the meantime, the bridge continues to be monitored. Shannon said once the project begins there will be little impact on traffic as the new bridge is built alongside the old, “There may need to be about a one-week period for shutdown for the Hwy 101 tie-ins,” Shannon said. Construction should start in the spring.

Shannon also said as the bridge is monitored this winter there is a possibility of closures if the flow of the river becomes too strong.

So what about the Hoh Bridge? Shannon said all bridges are inspected but she didn’t know anything planned for any changes for the circa 1931 structure.

Another question was why do “we” get chip-seal and other places get pavement? Are we not worthy of pavement? Shannon said it probably has to do with the volume of traffic and chip sealing on I-5 would not work.

Shannon also heard complaints about the job that was done and the many broken windshields and damage to vehicles resulting from a poorly done job, as too much gravel was left on the roadway.

Shannon said that WSDOT was ready for winter and last Wednesday saw the first snow and plows were out.

Just saying …still not a fan of the round-a-bout …

Christi Baron, Editor