Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News

Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News

State eyes roundabout for west end of Hood Canal Bridge

SHINE — The state Department of Transportation is considering installing a single-lane roundabout near the west end of the Hood Canal Bridge.

Department of Transportation (DOT) officials say they believe the improvement would reduce collisions and improve access at the intersection of state Highway 104 and Shine Road/Paradise Bay Road in East Jefferson County.

If approved, design and construction would begin in 2021-23 biennium when funding becomes available and the roundabout would be open to traffic in the fall of 2023.

The projected budget is $3.8 million.

A public open house has been scheduled from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Feb. 28 at the Port Ludlow Beach Club, 121 Marina Drive.

No formal presentation will be given; community members can stop by any time and share their comments.

DOT staff will be available with information about recommendations for improving the efficiency at the intersection. Poster displays and a brief video will list potential benefits of roundabouts, officials said.

Comment also can be sent to orfeedback@wsdot.wa.gov.

Tina Werner of DOT said no final decisions have been made and that the agency wants to hear from businesses, trucking companies and commuters.

“Public input is very important to us,” she said. Some preliminary response to the proposal has been negative, she added.

Werner said the intersection has been the subject of a formal analysis for the past several years.

“This area has a high collision history,” she said. “When this happens, we take safety seriously. Traffic engineers want to improve access from the two intersecting roads and lower the accidents by lowering speeds.”

Werner said the Intersection Control Evaluation (ICE) report considered everything from traffic volume and collisions, to what needs to be done to make traffic flow better through the area.

The ICE report says that 90 percent of the 26 crashes that occurred between 2009 and 2015 were caused by vehicles entering the highway from Paradise Bay Road. Of those, none resulted in fatalities.

Two were deemed serious, and 23 of the 26 crashes were due to entering-at-angle crashes, while 25 were intersection-related, the report says.

Since 2016, there have been four additional crashes. Two of them resulted in serious injuries, and three of the four were from entering-at-angle events.

During a Hood Canal Bridge closure, traffic on state Highway 3 in Kitsap County can back up for one to two miles so when the bridge opens there is a “platoon of traffic” sending a steady stream of vehicles westbound towards the Paradise Bay/Shine intersection.

The report says that Highway 104 is classified as a “rural-principal arterial with limited access, with one lane in each direction.”

The intersection is the first intersection west of the Hood Canal Bridge and is subject to “long platoons for traffic during the bridge opening.”

The intersection is described as having rolling terrain and is a National Highway System route. It has a vertical grade of 5 percent from the Hood Canal Bridge to the intersection.

The posted speed limit in that area of Highway 104 is 40 mph. It has a daily volume of 17,800 vehicles, with 7.3 percent of those being trucks.

Werner said both a metered entrance single-lane roundabout and a signalized intersection were studied.

The signalized intersection was found to be of concern because of potential high speed, rear-end collisions generated by a stopped queue from the signal and the potential for red light running, Werner said.

An operational analysis showed the roundabout outperformed the signalized intersection during the afternoon peak hour. During off-peak hours, the report concluded that it would also outperform the signal because of the low delay for all entering vehicles.

Traffic heading east would have the addition of a metered entrance, engineers recommended.

If the traffic is delayed during bridge closures beyond a fixed period of time, a ramp meter signal would be triggered to relieve pressure on the intersecting roads, the report says.

This would occur only during a bridge opening and would deactivate once the traffic had cleared.

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Jefferson County Editor/Reporter Jeannie McMacken can be reached at 360-385-2335 or at jmcmacken@peninsuladailynews.com

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