ARLINGTON – It’s time for an extreme makeover - highway edition - at a busy intersection in Arlington. What is now a congested traffic signal at the intersection of state routes 9 and 531 will soon be transformed into a modern, efficient roundabout.
The Washington State Department of Transportation awarded contractor Interwest Construction Inc. of Burlington a $5 million contract to remodel the intersection into a roundabout starting spring 2012.
Every day, about 17,000 drivers rely on this intersection. And in five years, 2004 through 2008, 28 collisions left 29 people injured. Most of the crashes and injuries happened when drivers tried to turn left.
“The roundabout is going to make it a whole lot easier to turn left on and off the highway here,” said Dave Crisman, project engineer. “Not to mention, keep everyone moving through the intersection with little or no delay. It’s truly going to be a total makeover when we’re done.”
The new roundabout will reduce collisions and congestion at the intersection. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, roundabouts have been proven to significantly reduce the frequency and severity of collisions, reducing fatal collisions by 90 percent, injury collisions by 75 percent and total collisions by nearly 40 percent.
The roundabout will continue to work efficiently for the next 20 to 30 years, even as a significant amount of development occurs near the intersection. The surrounding area is planned as a regionally significant commercial and industrial center, and local planners expect more homes, businesses and drivers in the future.
WSDOT designed this roundabout to accommodate large trucks, buses and emergency response vehicles. More information and YouTube videos (about how to drive roundabouts) are available on the WSDOT roundabout website.
There is a total of 218 roundabouts across the state, and 57 of those are on state highways.