In the near future the City of North Bend could have you driving in circles – literally.
In the city’s transportation plans are five new roundabouts to help deal with increasing traffic stemming from the construction of new housing and business developments.
The first 4-leg roundabout (RAB) will be constructed this year on North Bend Way at Park Street, near QFC. A 3-leg roundabout is also planned for North Bend Way and 436th Ave, with construction likely in 2018 or 2019. Another one is possible in the same vicinity – at 436th and 136th Street – in 2019 or 2020. This is the area where two large apartment complexes are planned and the new Chinook Lumber facility will be built.
Farther east, a 3 or 4-leg roundabout is also planned for Middle Fork Road/140th ST/468th Ave near Twin Falls Middle School, with construction possible in 2018-2020.
Then back in the downtown area, a 3-leg roundabout is also being considered at the intersection of West 4th Street and Bendigo Blvd, with possible construction between 2020-2022.
North Bend Public Works Director Mark Rigos said it’s likely that not all of these roundabouts will be built during this timeframe, as many things impact construction – like the permitting of new housing developments, availability of transportation impact fees, city council approving funding and changes to the city’s 6-year Transportation Improvement Plan.
He commented via email, “However, I suspect 3-4 of those RABs will be built during the timeframes noted above.”
We asked Rigos why the city is moving toward roundabouts instead of traditional stop lights. He noted several ways roundabouts are beneficial:
- Safer for the public: far lower likelihood of bad injuries and/or fatalities; much lower likelihood of T-bone and head-on collisions. There is “no light to beat.”
- Roundabouts provide better traffic flow. Contrary to many people’s’ perceptions, roundabouts actually move traffic through an intersection more quickly, and with less congestion on approaching roads. Roundabouts promote a continuous flow of traffic. Unlike intersections with traffic signals, drivers don’t have to wait for a green light at a roundabout to get through the intersection. Traffic is not required to stop – only yield – so the intersection can handle more traffic in the same amount of time;
- Work when the power is out. North Bend has strong winds and local power seems to be out more often compared to less windy areas in King County
- Less long-term annual costs such as supplying and replacing hardware, paying for electricity, and providing maintenance.
- Adding traffic signals would require hiring a traffic engineer, which so far the City has avoided, thus saving taxpayer money.
- Occupy less space on approaching streets.Roundabouts require fewer lanes approaching the intersection to convey the same number of vehicles as a traffic signal.
- North Bend is flat. Roundabouts are considered less desirable in areas with steep topography, but most of the arterials in North Bend City Limits are flat, making them an efficient choice.
- Public Opinion – 63% of surveyed people in a WSDOT study favor roundabouts. 15% strongly oppose roundabouts, most often citing “fear of the unknown” for the opposition.
Rigos noted that several other roundabouts are also being considered five to six years from now, including one at the intersection of North Bend Way and Mt. Si Road.