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Thursday, October 27, 2011
Dustin Terpening, WSDOT communications, 360-757-5997 (Burlington)
Chris Damitio, project engineer, 360-788-7403 (Bellingham)
DEMING – Crews completed paving and opened a new roundabout today, helping make it easier and safer to turn on and off Mount Baker Highway at East Smith Road.
The Washington State Department of Transportation, with the help of contractor Boss Construction Inc., spent the last three months remodeling the intersection for the 8,000 drivers who use it every day.
“This used to be a really tough intersection to make a left turn,” said Project Engineer Chris Damitio. “Cars would back up on Smith Road, and there were quite a few crashes at the intersection.”
In fact, there were 21 collisions at the Smith Road intersection between 2002 and 2006.
“The roundabout is going to totally change things here,” Damitio said. “It’s going to keep traffic moving, and it’s going to make it a whole lot easier to turn on and off the highway safely.”
According the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, roundabouts have been proven to significantly reduce the frequency and severity of collisions, reducing fatal collisions by 90 percent, injury collisions by 75 percent and total collisions by nearly 40 percent.
WSDOT designed and built this roundabout to accommodate large trucks, buses and emergency response vehicles. More information and YouTube videos about how to drive roundabouts are available on the WSDOT roundabout website.
Over the next few weeks, crews will occasionally close lanes to landscape the roundabout, finish paving nearby driveways, complete final lane striping, and clean up and move out of the area. Drivers should expect minimal delays.
This is the second new roundabout on Mount Baker Highway this year. The first opened in June at the intersection of State Route 9 and Mount Baker Highway in Deming.
Both were built by contractor Boss Construction Inc. for a combined cost of $2.7 million.
The total number of roundabouts in Whatcom County is now 15. There are 218 roundabouts across the state, and 57 of those are on state highways.
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