County wants roundabout at Casino highway entrance

North Bend has one, Fall City has one, and now, the Valley's next roundabout is in the works on North Bend Way at the entrance to Casino Snoqualmie.

The planned two-lane roundabout would be part of North Bend Way and connect with an access road to Casino Snoqualmie. A bypass lane would route eastbound traffic around the roundabout.

The King County Department of Development and Environmental Services (DDES) released a notice on the roundabout plan to neighbors within 500 feet and the Valley Record last week, seeking public comment on environmental impacts from the roundabout until March 31.

Neighbors Mike and Kathy Torgerson, who live on 91st Street and can see the casino construction cranes through the trees around their home, wrote a letter to the county, listing their reasons for opposing the roundabout.

"I was shocked. I thought they were going to put a stoplight in," said Mike Torgerson, a retired architect who has lived outside Snoqualmie for five years. "I'm concerned about it as a neighbor, because due to the short distance between us and them, if it backs up, it will block our road completely. We won't be able to get in and out or have emergency services.

"If I was living in downtown Snoqualmie, I would be just as opposed to it, because I'd have to drive through it all the time," he added. "I can't think of a worse place."

"A light offers far more flexibility to meet the demand than this roundabout," Torgerson said.

Snoqualmie Tribal Administrator Matt Mattson told the Valley Record that the Tribe is following King County's lead on the traffic fix.

"It's a King County right of way," Mattson said. "We're following the King County process."

Some elements of the entrance are still in flux, such as signage for the casino, but the Tribe will be required to foot the entire bill for the roundabout.

"The tribe wants there to be some sort of traffic feature for safety," Mattson said. "We believe that doing nothing is dangerous."

"The roundabout really makes a more appropriate traffic control device," said County traffic engineer Matt Nolan. "They're building a very large traffic attractor out there."

Currently, Nolan describes North Bend Way as a low-volume roadway that people are used to driving at high speeds. The county's concern, he said, is what happens when the casino opens and traffic patterns change. Currently, the county department conducting the environmental review is passing along concerns about roundabouts in general to the King County Department of Transportation.

"We're focusing on environmental impacts," said Barbara Heavey, project manager for DDES. Written comments can be sent to the King County Department of Development and Environmental Services, Land Use Services Division, 900 Oakesdale Avenue Southwest, Renton, WA 98057-5212.

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