The city of Richland will replace flashing lights at three north Richland intersections with mini-roundabouts. Three new curb extension projects are also in the works along with pedestrian crossing safety improvements at six other locations.
Capital Projects Manager Sheldon Williamson explained the 2024, grant-funded projects to the Richland City Council at a July 25 workshop on capital improvements.
In an email to the Observer, City Manager Jon Amundson included current cost estimates that were provided by Transportation and Development Manager Carlo D’Alessandro. Alessandro noted that right-of-way, design, and engineering costs would add approximately 15 percent to the construction costs.
A mini-roundabout will replace flashing yellow and red lights at the intersections of Stevens Drive and Symons Street, Williams Boulevard and Thayer Drive and Swift Boulevard and Wright Avenue.
The circles will be created in the existing right-of-way so there’s no need to obtain additional land for them. “Basically, imagine taking the intersection and drawing a big circle in it,” Williamson told the council.
The National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO) reports that the mini-roundabouts have been shown to increase safety at intersections.
At least two residents who live on Stevens were pleased with the mini-roundabout news.
“I absolutely LOVE this news!” Scott Butner wrote the Observer. Butner lives just south of the intersection. He continued, “Not only will it cut down on collisions, but it should dramatically reduce the amount of speeding that goes on. Can’t wait to see it happen!”
Molly Petersen who lives north of the intersection wrote, “I’m very pleased the city is finally addressing this dangerous intersection and making some vital safety improvements that my neighbors and I have been asking for for many years.”
An owner of a convenience store near the planned mini-roundabout at Swift and Wright and her customer, interviewed by the Observer, said that they were hopeful that there would be fewer collisions at that intersection.
D’Alessandro estimated that each mini-roundabout would cost $300,000 to $400,000.
The Washington Department of Transportation considers mini-roundabouts safer than traffic lights which cost a minimum of about $250,000 to install.
NACTO recommends plantings in the circles to further the traffic calming effect and to beautify the street, but don’t look for any art or plantings in the Richland circles. Williamson explained that they are small and constructed so that large vehicles like fire engines and school buses can drive over the edges of them when necessary.
Curb extensions will be added at the intersections of Wright and Williams, Wright and Van Geisen Street, and Goethals Drive and Torbett Street.
Curb extensions visually and physically narrow the roadway, creating safer and shorter crossings for pedestrians, according to NACTO.
Each of those projects is estimated to cost $15,000 to $40,000.
Crossing Safety Improvements.
Crossing safety improvements, including rapid flashing beacons, and pedestrian refuge islands are coming to six locations – Aaron Drive and Jadwin Avenue, Stevens Drive and Mansfield Street, Leslie Road south of Mattis Drive, Gage Boulevard west of Venus Circle, Lee Boulevard and Goethals Drive, and Columbia Center Boulevard and Fowler Street.
Each of these projects is estimated to cost between $60,000 and $90,000.
Construction on all of the projects will begin next year.