Maple Valley roundabout work to start next spring

Work on a roundabout on Witte Road in Maple Valley should start, if all goes to plan, in about eight months according to Steve Clark, the city’s public works director.

“This project has been on the books for many years … at least (since) 2002,” Clark said.

The intersection of Witte Road and Southeast 248th Street is the access point for the Greater Maple Valley Community Center, the skate park, Lake Wilderness Park and Lodge, Lake Wilderness Arboretum and the Maple Valley branch of the King County Library. In addition, it provides access to a golf course and residential areas.

City officials began investigating the idea of “upgrading (Witte Road) to bring it up beyond rural standards” in 2001 when they hired consulting firm KPG Inc. to do a corridor study, Clark explained.

“Over the course of time a lot of new subdivisions had transpired,” Clark said. “That nature of the corridor has changed. The intersection of 248th and Witte Road was failing.”

In addition to looking at a roundabout, a standard traffic signal was considered, but ultimately city staff recommended a single-lane roundabout for safety and environmental reasons.

Dan Mattson, capital projects manager for the city, said “when they looked at the intersection versus the roundabout, they were fairly equal as far as level of service.”

It was approved by the City Council in late 2005.

“It solves the traffic problem and allows traffic (from neighborhoods off Witte) to merge in,” Clark said. “It’s a major entry way feature.”

Work at the intersection is part of the second phase of improvements to Witte Road, Clark added, with the first phase putting in sidewalks, street lamps, bicycle lanes and other features from 240th to 244th.

“There’s really a heavy non-motorized element to this project,” Clark said.

This phase will extend those features from 244th to 249th as well as adding the roundabout at the intersection.

“A lot of people wanted to cross from the library to the community center or the– park,” Mattson said. “So, we’ll be putting in two pedestrian crossings. It includes tying into the existing improvements.”

Currently the city staff are in the process of finalizing right-of-way acquisitions near the intersection, Clark said, and the goal is to have that done by the end of this month (July).

The construction budget for the work, including the intersection and other improvements, is at $5.4 million. Part of that comes from a federal grant from the Federal Highway Administration that comes in at $1.25 million. The project will go through an approval process through the Puget Sound Regional Council that should be complete by this fall to get it added to the State and Regional Transportation Improvement Program list.

In the meantime, any remaining details that need to be squared away will be taken care of, Clark said.

“We should be able to put the project out to bid in January,” Clark said. “And we’ll start construction probably in the second quarter of 2010.”

City staff also plan to continue working with nearby homeowners.

“We’re working with the property owners,” Clark said. “There’s been a significant amount of public outreach that has gotten us to this point and that’s not going to stop.

“We’re looking forward to getting it out. We’re excited we did get the grant and that will definitely help (financially). It’s an exciting project and it’s been a long time coming. We will get this project done.”