Washougal breaks ground on roundabouts

Travelers will experience delays on state route 14 throughout summer

A crowd, including crews from the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT), listens to speakers in the parking lot of the Pendleton Woolen Mills store in Washougal on May 23, at a groundbreaking for two traffic roundabouts being built on state route 14 in Washougal.

Washougal Mayor Molly Coston (third from left) and Sen. Ann Rivers (second from right) get "shovel ready" with other state and local officials on May 23.

Local and state officials recently kicked off a $7.5 million road construction project that will build two roundabouts along state route 14 (Highway 14) in Washougal.

“This is long-awaited here,” said Washougal Mayor Molly Coston at a May 23 groundbreaking ceremony held in a far corner of the Pendleton Woolen Mills store parking lot in Washougal, close to where one of the two roundabouts will be located at the intersection of Washougal River Road and Highway 14. “This will provide many benefits for us: safety, connectivity and economic development opportunities along the entire state route 14 corridor.”

Thompson Bros. Excavating, the Vancouver-based contractor selected by the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) for the Washougal roundabouts project, began construction Wednesday, May 29, along Highway 14 at Washougal River Road (15th Street) and 32nd Street.

Construction is expected to last through the summer months, and drivers should expect intermittent, single-lane and full-lane closures near the future roundabouts. According to a news release from WSDOT given to media at the May 23 groundbreaking, construction crews will not close both intersections at the same time, and travelers can “expect delays of up to 20 minutes through the construction area.”

To help keep traffic flowing during Washougal’s most popular event — the national Motocross event at the Washougal MX park in mid-July — construction crews will not close Highway 14 lanes from July 17-22.

“The benefits will be a huge boost to Washougal,” Coston said May 23. “None of us like highway construction projects, but hold your reservations. We’ll get through this and look forward to actually implementing the roundabouts later this fall.”

Sen. Ann Rivers, who helped secure the $7.5 million project for Washougal as part of the $16 billion “Connecting Washington” infrastructure package passed by Washington legislators and Gov. Jay Inslee in 2015, spoke at the May 23 groundbreaking ceremony, and said she was excited to see the roundabouts’ construction starting in Washougal.

“When I took the yes vote on Connecting Washington, it was a really, really difficult vote because no one wants to pay more taxes, but they can personally benefit from their own dollars I think it’s sort of the sugar on the outside of the bill that makes it go down easier,” Rivers said. “It’s really exciting to see this happen right here and the jobs created also will be a benefit to our region and help to fuel the economic machine and also grant further support to our ports here locally. … Really, this is such a huge win for our community.”

Rivers spoke to the fact that many people — including, she said, her own husband — don’t like traffic roundabouts, but that, as she and her husband discovered driving through their own local roundabout installed recently in La Center, “after the first few weeks … people start to appreciate the flow of traffic as it continues (through the roundabout).”

WSDOT representatives said the new roundabouts will make traveling on Highway 14 through Washougal safer and easier.

“Roundabouts help reduce the likelihood and severity of collisions,” WSDOT stated in the press release handed out at the May 23 groundbreaking event. “Roundabouts help keep traffic moving … (and) the new roundabout on (Highway 14) at 32nd Street will also provide better travel in and out of Washougal and the (Port of Camas-Washougal) by restoring all access to and from the highway.”

For more information about the new roundabouts, construction, lane closures and alternative travel options, visit wsdot.wa.gov/Projects/SR14/accessimprove.