Roundabout in Purdy is a possibility

The in basket: Someone (I can no longer find the inquiry) asked me if there was anything new in efforts to ease the rush-hour backups at the Purdy traffic signal for traffic trying to get to Key Peninsula after pulling off northbound Highway 16.

The lines of vehicles, which have caused the state to allow shoulder driving on Highway 16 to get exiting cars out of the through lanes at the Purdy exit, remain long, the inquiry said.

The out basket: It turns out there has been a lot of progress, though the most immediate change will address morning backups in the other direction. But there may be a roundabout in place of that over-worked Purdy stop light within three years.

Karen Boone, assistant project engineer in the Olympic Region design shop, said the most recent gas tax increase of 9 1/2 cents per gallon has provided $6.65 million for work in or near Purdy, to be done in two phases.

A lot of it in both phases will be devoted to Highway 302’s intersection with 118th Avenue well west of Purdy. Turn lanes and guard rail to improve safety are planned there.

But by Christmas this year, a new signal controller and optical traffic detector in Purdy will turn the left-turn light green for traffic coming east over the Purdy Bridge whenever the backup to turn left (about 10 cars) blocks those who want to turn right from getting to the turn. More reflective signs also wlll be installed.

In 2012, a contract is scheduled to be let for work to include other improvements in Purdy, Karen said. One option being studied is building a roundabout there.

She said preliminary traffic studies say a roundabout would be a partial fix for the long afternoon lines, not a complete one. “It won’t be the silver bullet,” she said.

One complication that often works against roundabouts – the need to buy a lot of right of way – is not a problem in Purdy, she said. The state owns enough land there to build a roundabout, though some of it is leased to businesses at present.

Another complication, for all projects – money – could be decisive. The $6.65 million might not stretch to cover a roundabout.

If the state decides against the roundabout, the only other option identified so far doesn’t sound like a major help. That would be putting in a second northbound lane at the stop light to let traffic wanting to go straight rather than turn left onto 302 get out of the left-turn queue. Karen couldn’t say what percentage of the traffic goes straight, but suspects it’s a minority.

Karen said such a second lane couldn’t be too long, or it would run into some fish barriers uphill. If they disturbed them, they’d have to bring them up to code, which could consume all of the available money and then some, she said.

Another traffic obstacle in Purdy, the narrow bridge, is on the state’s list for replacement, she said, but that would be a long time in the future.

One thought on “Roundabout in Purdy is a possibility

  1. A roundabout would be a waste of money if the bridge is not addressed. Traffic not cycle any faster given the narrow lanes on the bridge.

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