Letter to the Editor: A roundabout is not the answer


As one who loves roundabouts, I have rarely heard an idea as ill-advised as constructing one on the west end of the Hood Canal Bridge. A traffic signal, in this case, is the obvious solution (for a genuinely urgent problem).

For starters, a roundabout on the bottom of that severe slope would require moving a great deal of earth, which would be a protracted process and highly disruptive to traffic flow on this vital link.

Secondly, large trucks heading westbound would have to slow to a crawl before starting up the grade, slowing down traffic for a long way behind. True, a red light would do the same but only at very brief and occasional intervals if the lights were timed intelligently. If sensors were installed to detect cars waiting on Paradise Bay and Shine Roads, that problem would be further mitigated.

Thirdly, there is already a problem getting eastbound traffic descending the grade to slow down to 40 mph before crossing the bridge. Placing a roundabout at the bottom of the hill — instead of a signal, which could be seen from a long distance — will ensure accidents will continue to be a problem.

Fourthly, one cannot enter a roundabout while traffic is in it. So cars waiting to enter the busy highway will still have an incessantly long wait.

A traffic signal would be far less expensive than the $3.8 million proposal and safety could be assured with minimal disruption to the only route linking the Olympic Peninsula to Kitsap County. With bridge openings, SR 104 traffic is already tied up often. A roundabout would make it worse. I’ll bet the DOT proponents of this boondoggle have never lived on the Olympic Peninsula!

Share your views:  Tina Werner, WSDOT Olympic Communications, 360-704-3270, wernerc@wsdot.wa.gov.

David Michael
Port Townsend


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Tom Camfield

All good and valid points. Also revives my memory of a semi cranking up speed to hit the hill that almost squashed me as I was coming out of the road from old Port Ludlow. However, I think there the onus was on me, for failing to pay enough attention to the reality of just where I was. Of course, there also are countless dimwitted auto drivers over-anxious to hit the passing lane and display their superior driving ability by winning over others before hitting the top of the hill. Competitive driving is an ugly and often fatal thing.

Wednesday, March 13
Mike Loriz

As someone who has spent a lot of time in Europe (where traffic circles are ubiquitous), I have to respectfully disagree with some of Mr. Michaels's points.

A large radius, two lane traffic circle can easily support vehicle speeds of 40 mph (or higher). If designed properly, the proposed circle will certainly save fuel overall, and will much more quickly assist in clearing a pileup after a bridge opening.

To really improve things, I suggest putting high speed traffic circles at both the East end and West end of the bridge. Such a configuration would allow much smoother and more efficient traffic flow. In the long run, the added initial expense of traffic circle construction is always offset by reduced fuel consumption, trip time savings, and reduced accident rates compared to lights or stop signs.

Thursday, March 14