Clallam County officials are considering adding a traffic circle at the intersection of Woodcock Road and Sequim-Dungeness Way. (Jesse Major/Peninsula Daily News)

Clallam County officials are considering adding a traffic circle at the intersection of Woodcock Road and Sequim-Dungeness Way. (Jesse Major/Peninsula Daily News)

Roundabout considered for busy intersection at Sequim-Dungeness Way and Woodcock Road

SEQUIM — Clallam County officials are considering fast-tracking the installation of a traffic circle at the intersection of Sequim-Dungeness Way and Woodcock Road, citing concerns from local residents and ever-increasing traffic.

An improvement to the intersection is listed on the 2018-23 Transportation Improvement Program, with $1.25 million set aside in years four through six for the project.

But a new traffic circle at one of the county’s busiest intersections could be installed in 2021 or earlier, Clallam County Engineer Ross Tyler told the Board of County Commissioners during a work session Monday.

“It would be a lot more comfortable from a public perspective to say we’ll shoot for 2021 and … if we can pull it off sooner that would be great,” Tyler said. “We can probably have a more accurate estimate by mid-year.”

Tyler said Tuesday the intersection is one of the busiest in the county and has had 15 wrecks in the past 10 years.

A Sequim woman died in a broadside wreck at the intersection in 2004 after failing to yield while turning onto Sequim-Dungeness Way.

The idea of adding a roundabout to the intersection has been discussed before. In 2016, Tyler said “a project of this magnitude is still years out in the future.”

Commissioner Mark Ozias, who represents the Sequim area, said this project would be a significant priority for Sequim-area residents and is a priority for him as well. He said the project has support from area home owners associations as well.

“We know that the east end of the county and this area in particular is where we’re seeing most of the population growth,” he said. “That further underscores the argument to do something here.”

He said a traffic circle is a “potentially likely” long-term solution, but questioned whether there was something that could be done in the short term to improve safety at the intersection.

Tyler said adding a traffic circle likely wouldn’t decrease the rate at which wrecks occur, but it would decrease the severity of the wrecks.

Instead of broadside wrecks, they would likely be reduced to mostly fender-benders, he said.

Tyler, who said he previously lived in the area, said he noticed many people would roll through the stop signs on Woodcock Road.

“Rolling a stop sign is human nature, but it’s against the law and in this case it can create an accident,” he said. “I think that the easiest way to apply some constructive pressure is for me to ask the Sheriff’s Department to do some emphasis there.”

“There’s probably nothing we can do to make the accident rate lower than what it is right now,” Tyler said. “But if we went to a roundabout, we could change the dynamic of the accidents and could probably lower the risk of fatality.”

He said that statistically there are very few wrecks at the intersection compared to others across the state. This has made it difficult to compete for funding with counties that have higher populations and more traffic.

He said the road department would be able to shoe-horn it into its six-year Transportation Improvement Program, though other county-funded projects might need to be delayed.

He cautioned against forgoing maintenance work in an effort to construct the traffic circle faster, saying that repairs would cost more in the long run if maintenance work is delayed.

He said funding for the traffic circle would be included during the budgeting process and that the final decision will be made by the commissioners.

“I believe this board will want to move it forward,” he said. “But it’s not a done deal until the budget is finalized.”

________

Reporter Jesse Major can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56250, or at jmajor@peninsuladailynews.com.

A van passes Woodcock Road as it travels southbound on Sequim-Dungeness Way on Monday, an intersection Clallam County officials are eyeing for a traffic circle. (Jesse Major/Peninsula Daily News)

A van passes Woodcock Road as it travels southbound on Sequim-Dungeness Way on Monday, an intersection Clallam County officials are eyeing for a traffic circle. (Jesse Major/Peninsula Daily News)

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