New roundabout coming to 97A and Ohme Garden Road
WENATCHEE — The state Department of Transportation will build a roundabout this summer on Highway 97A where it intersects both Ohme Garden Road and Stemilt Warehouse Way.
Project Engineer Kevin Waligorski says the intersection, just north of Olds Station, has a high volume of traffic from employees at the nearby Stemilt fruit warehouse and fruit trucks.
If you go:
What: Open house on the proposed roundabout for Highway 97A at Ohme Garden Road and Stemilt Warehouse Way.
When: Feb. 29, 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Where: State Department of Transportation’s “Maintenance Area 1,” Building B, conference room, 2830 Euclid Ave., Wen.
Content: View roundabout design, learn about traffic flow, talk to experts, sound off.
Stemilt Growers will pay for one-third of the roundabout’s approximately $500,000 cost, Waligorski said.
The intersection is heavily traveled by the fruit company’s employees, which number about 500 during the off-season, but swell to 1,200 during harvest, according to the DOT.
Roundabouts can cost $1.5 million or more to build, but this one will cost less because its construction will coincide with DOT plans to repave the area, Waligorski said.
Also, the roundabout will fit almost entirely on the existing pavement, no land will have to be acquired for the project or special earth-moving done, he said.
“This intersection has been on a list for improvement, but has never been a high enough priority to receive funding,” Waligorski said. “We have some accident history there, and we can do this for a low cost.”
The speed limit along Highway 97A at the site is 45 mph. The intersection is not controlled by a traffic light.
Roundabouts keep traffic flowing, often without the need for a full stop.
The 97A roundabout will be the first of its kind on a state highway in North Central Washington, although Waligorski says they’re plentiful west of the Cascades.
The new one will be a slightly oval shape, to make it easier for north- and south-bound traffic to get around it, he said.
It will be about the same size as the roundabout near Pangborn Memorial Airport, he said, but with an inner “truck apron” that more easily allows the trailer of a turning semi to ride up, onto the apron, if necessary, to negotiate the curve.
DOT spokesman Jeff Adamson said officials contacted more than 2,000 people in the Olds Station area to let them know about the project and invite them to an open house Wednesday to learn more.
He said they’ve received seven comment letters and emails — all negative.
Waligorski said this is the expected reaction.
“Usually, where you see is 60-some percent who do not like roundabouts when they’re proposed, but after they’re in, it flips,” he said, “with 65 percent in favor, after they get used to it and see how it works.”