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Roundabout planned near Royal City

Mar. 15—ROYAL CITY — A new roundabout at Road 12 Southwest and South Dodson Road could be installed in 2024 — and will be, if Grant County officials can swing it.

"We're hoping to get that done in 2024," said Grant County Engineer Dave Bren. "But we're still working on some right of way."

The intersection has stop signs at Road 12 and a yellow caution light, but county officials have been planning a roundabout there for a couple years.

"That has just been a problem intersection. So it's time," he said. "I really want to get that done this year, I really do. So I'm going to push for it."

No construction date has been set yet, however. The delay is caused by the need to acquire property at each corner.

"We need some pieces of ground on all four corners to be able to get a round roundabout into kind of a square intersection," Bren said. "We're working with the property owners, and I think we have three of four already (finalized). If we can't get all that right of way, unfortunately, it would be pushed back to next year. But I think we're pretty close."

Estimated project cost is about $450,000, all of it from county funds. Bren said the roundabout will be the same design as the one at the intersection of North Dodson Road and State Route 282 in Ephrata.

"We have changed the scope of that project from a full-size roundabout like you'd see (Washington Department of Transportation) do. We've reduced that down to what's called a compact roundabout," Bren said.

A compact roundabout looks like the full size version, but it's less expensive, he said.

"You basically take the existing asphalt intersection and you put what looks like a roundabout right in with it," he said. "There will be concrete curb and there's a raised concrete island.

"You only have a little bit of asphalt you have to place on the outside edges, and then you do everything with paint," he said. "Basically you keep it really cheap."

The roundabout was designed to take the nature of the Royal City area economy into account.

"Big trucks can make a big turn if they have to. Because this area is used for agriculture, there are going to be some big agriculture vehicles that have to drive right over the top of it, and totally can. That's our intent," he said.

The compact roundabout can be easier to navigate when necessary, he said, but still slows down traffic.

"You can drive over it if you have to. But you don't want to drive over it at 50 miles an hour, because it will launch you," he said. "It's made so that you see it, (and say), 'I don't want to drive over that,' so you slow down."

Speeds at the roundabout will be reduced to 35, or possibly 25, miles per hour, he said. Drivers who try to go through the roundabout at highway speeds run the risk of damage to their vehicle.

"They work really well. People don't like them, I understand that, but they do work really well," he said.

Construction is less complicated than a traditional roundabout.

"You have some prep work on the (road) shoulders. You have little wings of asphalt you have to put in, and then you (build) the island — literally, you could put it right over the existing asphalt. You don't have to do anything special."

Cheryl Schweizer may be reached at cschweizer@columbiabasinherald.com.