Roundabouts open five days ahead of schedule

Published on Fri, May 21, 2010 by By Tara Nelson

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Blaine drivers can say goodbye to waits and detours at the Peace Portal and Marine Drive intersection as crews will be wrapping up major construction this week.

Washington state Department of Transportation spokesperson Dustin Terpening said crews will re-open the intersection under the I-5 overpass Wednesday evening.

The $2.8 million roundabout project was completed six days ahead of schedule despite setbacks from a lawsuit and the unexpected removal of soil likely contaminated by gas stations once located near the site.

WSDOT closed D Street and both I-5 on-ramps at the interchange on April 5 to allow faster construction and minimize impacts to drivers and businesses.

The project was fully funded by the federal government and was designed to complement improvements the General Service Administration made at the Peace Arch border crossing.

Crews worked to build two roundabouts, one at each on- and off-ramp intersection, in less than 50 days. The roundabouts replace two signalized intersections and will improve traffic mobility and safety.

“We worked around the clock, seven days a week, to get these roundabouts open in the least amount of time possible,” said Chris Damitio, WSDOT project engineer. “The closure saved a lot of time. Without it, it probably would have taken us twice as long.”

The contractor will receive a financial bonus for opening D Street and the I-5 on-ramps early. Incentives (and penalties) were included in the contract to encourage the contractor to complete the work early.

“That number is to be determined. They will get a bonus for opening early it just hasn’t been decided yet,” Terpening said.

Construction will continue at the interchange even with the roundabouts open to traffic. Crews will close lanes as necessary at night to install street lights and permanent lane markings.

Terpening added that for some motorists, the roundabouts may require some minor adjustments.

“It is new and it’s going to require a little bit of change for drivers,” he said. “It’s also going to require motorists to have a little bit of patience for those who are going through the roundabout for the first time. The speeds, however, are slow enough that if someone does make a mistake you’re going to have time to stop and avoid them.”

Roundabout driving tips
  • Yield to drivers in the roundabout.
  • Do not stop in the roundabout.
  • Always drive counterclockwise through the roundabout. 
  • Yield to pedestrians as with a signalized intersection.
  • Bicyclists who want to ride through the roundabout should follow the same rules as a motorist or walk their bike on the sidewalk.
  • In the event of emergency vehicles, proceed through the roundabout and then pullover.
Videos and graphics are available on the WSDOT website at www.wsdot.wa.gov/Safety/roundabouts.  For more information, visit www.wsdot.wa.gov/Projects/I5/blaineinterchange.