WSDOT: Roundabout at Hood Canal a response to crash statistics

Posted 9/11/19

Amid the debate over Washington State Department of Transportation’s determination to build two highway roundabouts, data confirms one concern of Olympic Peninsula drivers: it’s dangerous to cross high-speed lanes to turn left onto state Route 104.

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

E-mail
Password
Log in

WSDOT: Roundabout at Hood Canal a response to crash statistics

Posted

Amid the debate over Washington State Department of Transportation’s determination to build two highway roundabouts, data confirms one concern of Olympic Peninsula drivers: it’s dangerous to cross high-speed lanes to turn left onto state Route 104.

A formal evaluation of crash data, completed in February, shows that 90% of the 26 total crashes from 2009 through 2015 at the SR 104/Paradise Bay/Shine Road intersection were “entering-at-angle-type crashes.” In other words, people getting hit in the high-speed traffic of either the westbound or eastbound lanes.

“We understand the concerns the community has about being new to roundabouts, and wanting more resources dedicated to building an overpass or underpass at this location,” said Tina Werner, of Olympic Region Communications for WSDOT. “However, that won’t address the collisions we are seeing. We have an obligation to improve safety and reduce the severity of collisions at this site, and that is exactly what we aim to address through this project.”

The 2009-15 crash history included two with serious injuries and 24 non-serious crashes.

Since 2016, the report noted there had been four more crashes, with two of the four incurring serious injuries, while three of the four crashes were entering-at-angle crashes.

Beaver Valley Road is the other intersection where the state intends to add a roundabout.

“The roundabout alternative will potentially eliminate all of the entering-at-angle crashes, and significantly reduce severity of crashes relative to the signal alternative,” the February report read. “Given the safety performance of the existing minor-street stop control, maintaining the existing control is not considered as an alternative for the project.”

The report weighed the merits of a single-lane roundabout against a signalized intersection.

While a signalized intersection was likely to have a smaller footprint than that of a roundabout, and therefore have minimal to no right-of-way needs, one concern was the potential for rear-end collisions, generated by a stopped line of vehicles resulting from the signal.

“Another safety concern with a signal is the potential for red-light running,” the report read.

By contrast, the same report cited an operational analysis showing that a roundabout would out-perform a signalized intersection during the intersection’s afternoon peak hours.

Although the report acknowledges that “it may be difficult for traffic on Paradise Bay Road and Shine Road to enter westbound SR 104 due to gap availability” with a roundabout, the WSDOT-proposed solution was to install a metered entrance on a single-lane roundabout, given that metered entrances are endorsed by the Federal Highway Administration in its roundabout guide.

As for the alternatives proposed by attendees of WSDOT’s Aug. 29 community meeting in Quilcene, Werner reiterated the message of WSDOT Region Administrator John Wynands, who had noted the agency’s relative lack of funds in spite of Washington state’s gas tax, which he conceded is one of the most expensive in the nation.

“Simply put, other capacity improvements, such as widening or expanding the highway, are not feasible at this time, due to funding limitations allocated to us by the Washington State Legislature,” Werner said.

Werner encouraged the public to learn more details online at www.wsdot.wa.gov/projects/sr104/paradise-bay-shine-road/home.

Comments

5 comments on this story | Please log in to comment by clicking here
Please log in or register to add your comment
Justin Hale

The state DOT is hell-bent on putting in roundabouts whether the people paying for it like it or not. The major problem that causes accidents at those intersections is impatient drivers who can't be bothered to wait for a clear break in the traffic to enter 104, or it's the drivers who sit there on Paradise afraid to move. A traffic light at that intersection would solve the problem with a much lower cost to the taxpayers, but as I said, the state is hell-bent on roundabouts.

Wednesday, September 11
Dawn mohrbacher

Justin you are 100% right. I drive the bridge four times a day as I take the kids too and from school. I have taken these intersections Gad...I don't know but likely a thousand times or more. We are all alive and well. Because I don't pull out in front of semis.

So here is what I will do....I will take paradise bay road from pt so I can get across the traffic waiting for the roundabout on the highway. I will take it on the way back home as well because I won't want to deal with the delays upstream as well. Paradise bay road will see increased traffic on a major scale because those of us who do the drive daily will do this as well. Than we will need to build a roundabout in Ludlow to stop us from driving that way...than we will need one in headlock...than...well you get the picture. This is possibly the stupidest idea ever.

Thursday, September 12
Forest Shomer

Another example of how WSDOT sidesteps actual engagement with the public.

Putting SR 104 on an overpass eliminates potentials for collision! Same as any other overpass with on/off-ramps. There's nothing mysterious about it. This is the safest alternative. And the only weak objection WSDOT makes, is cost. They would put a band-aid on the intersection, long-term, with a roundabout--which will become outdated and a big generator of user complaints within a few years--if not even before it opens--by being unable to deal with traffic volumes. We will be stuck with the band-aid because it will be "too expensive to replace the roundabout" with a solution they should be building in the first place.

Not one word from WSDOT about the fallacy of doing a traffic count during an unbusy October day. Where's the data supporting this roundabout based on: summer traffic; holiday traffic; weekend traffic? Answer: they either didn't gather that data, or are suppressing it.

As I wrote in my letter published Sept. 11: go over their heads and ask Mike Chapman, our Rep who is on the Legislature's Transportation Committee, to step in and help find the funding for an overpass (the best long-term strategy), and include Rep. Tharinger and Sen. Van De Wege as well. The Peninsula deserves not only safe traffic solutions, but efficient ones as well, built for the long term!

Thursday, September 12
Miriam Flaherty Brygider

Justin you are 100% right. With the thousands of vehicles crossing the bridge daily the time alone going around the circle would not solve the problems. Most people in this area DO NOT KNOW how to enter a round about. Disaster in the making

Thursday, September 12
Aricsdaddy

The Bridge needs to be replaced with a suspension bridge or Tunnel. The only time it needs to close is for a Submarine, and not every time a little sail boat goes through which is doing massive environmental damage and wasting a whole lot of time for everyone.

A Roundabout is not the solution. People in PT stop at those roundabouts at very low speeds for no reason at all, often in the Roundabout as no one knows how to, or refuses to use them correctly (Signal to exit, signal to turn left or go all he way around, it is the law, a law that the police ignore), so this would cause massive traffic jams and cause many many, many more accidents.

If A suspension bridge was built, I would join Shine and Paradise bay roads, having 104 go over the top of them, and having a proper on and off ramp to the bridge. Yes building a new bridge is expensive, but it would eliminate almost all the traffic, make boaters happy, and definitely help the environment (I am pretty sure in the future Kitsap and Jefferson County will have a lot of law suits from people who live beside the roads and get cancer from all the stopped cars who have to wait for a pesky sail boat to go through. It also make financial sense to replace the bridge as the operating lifetime of a floating bridge is a fraction of a suspension bridge, and the operating cost of the floating bridge is massive compared to a suspension bridge.

Maybe we should suggest trump extend Interstate 90 over the bridge into Jefferson County and into the heart of Port Townsend, so he can bully our leaders who are hell bent on bullying us, making our county a slow playground for rich southern retirees and causing misery for everyone else, when we can instead help the rich people in Seattle have a cheaper housing here. We could also then have a nice ferry terminal to Canada in Port Townsend too.

Friday, September 13