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Published: Thursday, May 12, 2011, 12:01 a.m.

State to build a traffic circle mock-up at fairgrounds so drivers can take a spin

A 'roundabout rodeo' Monday will let drivers get the hang of a roundabout coming to U.S. 2 in 2012.

MONROE -- Attention drivers: Don't worry about the first roundabout planned for U.S. 2.
The state's got you covered.
The Washington state Department of Transportation is building a practice roundabout for anyone who wants to give it a whirl before the one on the highway opens next spring.
What is being called a "roundabout rodeo" will take place from 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m Monday at the Evergreen State Fairgrounds. The mock roundabout will have the same dimensions as the one planned on U.S. 2 at the highway's intersection with Rice Road, just east of Sultan
The roundabout will be created with 400 sandbags and 150 traffic cones and barrels at the parking lot behind the bleachers, just off 179th Avenue SE, transportation department spokeswoman Bronlea Mishler said.
The purpose of this roundabout rodeo, is to give an opportunity for drivers -- especially truck and school bus drivers and firefighters -- a chance to practice.
"Everybody is going to drive it when we build it," Mishler said. "But we know truck drivers will be more interested to know how their bigger vehicles will travel the roundabout."
The DOT plans to build and take down the mock roundabout the same day with materials the department already has on hand, she said. About 10 state workers will be present to answer questions.
People interested in driving a roundabout should contact the department to reserve a time slot. The state plans to give each driver a half-hour, but up to a maximum of 40 drivers could be able to test-drive the roundabout, Mishler said. Bigger vehicles will have priority.
As of Friday, local school districts, fire departments and truck companies have already reserved a space, she said.
The Monroe Fire District has confirmed it wants to try the roundabout, especially because sometimes firefighters drive outside the city limits to help with other districts.
They plan to practice on the roundabout with their largest vehicle, a 42½-foot-long ladder truck.
The department has not had any trouble with roundabouts in the past, Fire Chief Jamie Silva said.
Typically, there is a slight increase in collisions after the state makes changes on roadways, Mishler said. The department doesn't keep track of accidents that occur after a roundabout is built. But traffic engineers say one of the advantages of roundabouts is that the accident that do occur are less severe.
"Accidents will have less possibility of injury because of the lower speeds," Mishler said.
The state expects to start building the roundabout on U.S. 2 this fall and complete the work by next spring. The $4.9 million project will be slightly oval-shaped, with dimensions of 140 feet by 130 feet.
Inside the traffic circle will be a 18-foot-wide raised apron to help bigger vehicles maneuver.
Traffic could be diverted while the work is in progress.
Alejandro Dominguez: 425-339-3422; adominguez@heraldnet.com.
Roundabout rodeo
Want to test drive a new roundabout planned at U.S. 2? Reserve space by calling state spokeswoman Meghan Pembroke at 206-440-4704, pembrom@wsdot.wa.gov.
The roundabout rodeo is scheduled to open between 10:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. next Monday at the Evergreen State Fairgrounds, 14405 179th Ave. SE, Monroe.
Story tags » MonroeSultanRoads

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