Aberdeen’s new roundabout opens without a hitch

Officials say traffic circle makes area safer

The city of Aberdeen completed construction of a roundabout in less than five months after construction was slated to take six months.

And now, the city has its first roundabout in the downtown core, according to Nick Bird, city engineer for the Aberdeen. The roundabout replaces the former five-way intersection at East Market Street, F Street, and the one-way street, Fuller Way.

Various city officials and several local residents were on-hand Wednesday Sept. 14, to witness the opening of the roundabout with a ribbon-cutting ceremony. Instead of using large, ceremonial scissors to cut the pink ribbon, they used a different approach.

Aberdeen Mayor Pete Schave drove through the ribbon in a Rognlin’s Inc. dump truck. The dump truck was equipped with a pup trailer.

Rick Sangder, public works director for Aberdeen, held one end of the ribbon and Bird held the other end as Schave effortlessly drove west down East Market Street, and then through the roundabout.

According to Sangder, Schave is a former truck driver and is “very proud” of that time in his life. In addition to having Schave drive the truck, the display served another purpose.

“This seemed like a good way to get the opening of the roundabout some attention, while also showing the ease a dump truck pulling a pup trailer could maneuver the intersection,” said Sangder on Wednesday afternoon.

The roundabout project had plenty of attention since construction started April 18. The former intersection was closed, partially or fully, throughout the summer, which forced motorists to reroute and use the surrounding blocks.

Bird said having the roundabout will make it safer for drivers, bicyclists and pedestrias.

“From a safety standpoint, this is the best thing that could be installed in this location,” Bird said.

Bird spoke a little about what having the roundabout accomplishes.

“This roundabout creates an opportunity where we minimize traffic conflicts, minimize potential serious accidents, eliminating those 90-degree intersection impacts, and reducing the speed at which those impacts occur,” Bird said.

Sangder said he didn’t have any concerns about the roundabout’s orientation, or the ability to motorists to maneuver in it.

“It is a single lane roundabout, which removes the concerns with people changing lanes while in it,” Sangder said. “And we flattened out the oval to move truck traffic through it easier in the east and west directions.”

Bird provided a few rules for driving through the single-lane roundabout.

■ Yield to drivers already in the roundabout

■ Don’t stop in the roundabout (except for pedestrians)

■ Pedestrians should cross at the designated crosswalks because it’s the safest way to cross any of the roadways

Bird said the roundabout was designed so pedestrians only have to focus on one direction of travel at a time. He also said the bike lanes within the roundabout provide an option for bicyclists to either ride in the travel lane, or to use a ramp to and from a shared use path. He said it allows bicyclists to travel away from vehicles if so desired.

The first few drivers who motored their way through the roundabout after it was opened were driving a Chevrolet Silverado, a Fifth Wheel RV, and a couple of cars.

It’s a good thing that the roundabout project is finished now instead of in the fall, when the rain should start to drop. Bird told The Daily World in mid-June that the project had to be done before the rain starts because the sub-base has to dry out.

“You cannot put asphalt down in the rain, so you have to have some reasonable weather to work with,” Bird said. “It is Western Washington. That’s part of the challenge of what we deal with.”

Bird spoke briefly about how the project came together.

“Back in April we broke ground on a pretty exciting project — the first roundabout within the downtown core of the city of Aberdeen,” Bird said. “It was called the Downtown Aberdeen Revitalization Traffic Improvements, or as we on the engineering team call it, DARTI.”

Sangder said the project cost was “a little north of $2 million.” He said the project was “a long time coming,” and that he is “very pleased” with the roundabout having opened on Wednesday.

“It is always nice to get a project done on time and early,” Sangder said. “There are so many times that things happen out of your control that can delay a project. Rognlin’s (Inc.) worked with city staff to resolve issues quickly and efficiently.”