PORT ANGELES — City officials have unveiled plans for a new look for Lauridsen Boulevard, which will be repaved and upgraded with safety features this summer.
The $980,000 project includes an asphalt overlay between Lincoln Street and Lauridsen Court near the Peabody Creek bridge.
Dedicated left-turn lanes will be added at Peabody Street and new crosswalks with median islands and flashing beacons will be installed at Chase and Peabody streets, according to plans presented at an open house Wednesday.
City engineers are considering two “traffic calming” measures — a lateral lane shift and choker islands that jut into the road.
Both options will narrow the wide lanes and improve traffic and pedestrian safety by encouraging motorists to obey the posted 30 mph speed limit, city officials said.
“You often get people driving 50 mph out there,” City Engineer Jonathan Boehme said during the open house at the Port Angeles Library.
“We’re trying to build a road that makes it easier to drive the speed limit of 30.”
The lateral shifts, or Option A, would curve the road around center islands.
The choker islands, or Option B, would squeeze vehicles toward the center of the road and allow bicyclists to pass between the islands and the sidewalk.
Radar signs will be installed on East Lauridsen Boulevard to alert motorists if they are speeding.
“Right now, it’s built as a highway,” Boehme said.
“It feels comfortable flying down the road at 50 mph.”
More than 40 people attended the community open house, including Port Angeles City Council members Mike French and Lindsey Schromen-Wawrin.
“Something needs to be done on the street to address the safety issues there, for sure,” said Tracy Bell, who lives near East Lauridsen Boulevard.
“It’s very difficult as a pedestrian to cross the street.”
Bell said she had not yet decided which of the two traffic calming options she preferred.
Dave Parrish, who also lives near the Boulevard, said the city should leave the road the way it is.
“I still think it’s better to keep the lanes straight,” said Parrish, who works in the construction business.
“There are still trucks that use that road sometimes at night, and when the traffic’s real heavy they’ve got to jog around those [concrete islands].”
Parrish suggested that the city deter speeders by issuing traffic tickets rather than shifting lanes or placing barriers in the road.
“Plus the ambulances, the State Patrol and the Sheriff’s [Office] all use that road,” Parrish said.
“They’re hauling ass through there, and they’ve got to do their jobs, too.”
Boehme said the feedback on the overlay project was largely positive.
“Most people have really focused in on the Peabody Street intersection, the improvements that we have proposed there,” Boehme said near the end of the open house.
“Short term, they like having these dedicated turn lanes that are proposed. Long term, folks would love to see some other traffic control in there.”
Long-term solutions such as a roundabout or a realignment of Peabody Street to intersect with Lauridsen at the same point would be more expensive and outside the scope of the Lauridsen Boulevard overlay, Boehme said.
“That’s just a whole different project,” Schromen-Wawrin said.
“I think people might say ‘Well, [the overlay] is a marginal improvement, but it’s not a fix,’ and we recognize that.”
Boehme said the schedule is to go out to bid in June and begin construction in the late summer.
Construction will take about two months and will require alternating traffic with flaggers and some complete road closures for paving.
The city received a $580,000 state grant to help pay for the Lauridsen Boulevard overlay.
The city will match the grant with $300,000 in Transportation Benefit District funding and $100,000 that was budgeted for pedestrian safety upgrades, Boehme said.
In 2017, city voters approved a 0.2 percent sales tax increase to fund a local Transportation Benefit District, or TBD, to help pay for improvements to streets, sidewalks and alleys.
Other features of the Lauridsen Boulevard overlay include 16 wheelchair-accessible sidewalk ramps and a 5-foot-wide bicycle lane on both sides.
The two-hour open house drew more than 40 attendees.
“We were very happy with the attendance of the open house,” Boehme said in a Thursday telephone interview.
“We received a lot of excellent suggestions and input from the community.”
The city is still seeking public feedback on the project through an online survey. The five-question survey is available at www.surveymonkey.com/r/552FYS6.
For more information on the Lauridsen Boulevard overlay, click on www.cityofpa.us/924/Lauridsen-Blvd-Overlay-Project.
Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56450, or at [email protected].