The Wahkiakum County Eagle - Established as The Skamokawa Eagle in 1891

Roundabouts are not the best idea


September 28, 2017

To The Eagle:

In response to the Mayor’s recent advocacy for roundabouts on Highway 4, I would like to bring to your readers attention some practical matters affecting our community that these structures would affect. If two roundabouts are built, one at the intersection of Main St., Greenwood Rd., and Hwy 4 and the second roundabout at the intersection of Columbia St., Boege Rd., and Hwy 4, many adjoining properties and infrastructures owned and/or operated by the following interests would be impacted: Fire Dist. 4; State of Washington; County of Wahkiakum; private business; church; six or seven private landowners; PUD overhead; underground utilities; sewer, drainages; Birnie Creek.

A roundabout needs to be at least 140 feet in diameter to accommodate large tractor trailers, RV trailers, and boat trailers with an extended truck apron so the back wheels of the oversize vehicles can ride up on the truck apron in order to complete their turn. The roundabout speed limit may need to be lowered to 10 or 20 miles per hour in order to safely enter, circulate around and exit on the road approaches. The roundabout footprint would no doubt result in condemnation of adjoining properties for additional highway right-of-way, thus encumbering the affected properties and interests listed above.

Before 5 million taxpayer dollars are spent on roundabouts, why not reduce the current 50 mph speed limit to 35 mph? By reducing traffic speed easterly of Fern Hill Road and continuing westerly of the Elochoman Valley Road, for a total of about two miles along Hwy 4, the safety of this transit corridor could be much improved without great expense or irritating all through traffic that must navigate around two new roundabouts. Similar speed limits (35 mph) on Hwy 4 have been in place for years, to great effect, in both Skamokawa and Longview. If additional traffic speed reminders are necessary, perhaps radar activated traffic speed signs could be installed, similar to those used on Hwy 30 in Rainier and Clatskanie. Studies have shown that when drivers are alerted by a radar speed indicator sign they will slow down up to 80 percent of the time.

Please consider that two roundabouts will require a major speed reduction, from 50 mph to 10 or 20 mph on Hwy 4, which is a much greater speed reduction than is needed (35 mph) on Hwy 4 for cross traffic and turning safety. So why not re-sign Hwy 4 to 35 mph, continue enforcing the laws of the roads and save Washington taxpayers five million dollars? And then, if necessary, increase fines for speeding. Hopefully, our county can keep the fine revenue and these monies go directly to the Sheriff’s Department and the Washington State Patrol to keep our community safe.

Thank you

Star AndersonHicks



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