Downtown North Bend is getting a new roundabout.
The roundabout may be new, but it’s the third roundabout for North Bend. It will be located at the intersection of East North Bend Way, East Park Street and Downing Avenue North.
Construction is now in full swing and expected to be completed in late October. Residents can expect delays driving through the road work, but two lanes will remain open to keep traffic moving on all three involved streets.
Project manager Tom Mohr, the city’s interim public works director, said the roundabout is a safety project that will be well worth it in the long run.
“This is a temporary traffic inconvenience for a longterm safety goal,” Mohr said.
He said the city decided to put a roundabout in this particular intersection because of safety concerns with it being such a busy area, especially during peak traffic hours. Drivers from the QFC, adjacent stores, the post office across the street and drivers on and off of East Park Street and Downing Avenue North are making many conflicting turns.
“This kind of eliminates that — eliminates all of those conflicting traffic movements,” Mohr said. Project contractors first started out underground by replacing about 800 feet of water main down the center of East North Bend Way. He said it is efficient and cost saving to update older water main while crews are already working in the area.
Workers also have installed a new storm system and a joint utility trench, allowing power and communication lines to eventually be put underground.
Now, above ground, crews are starting to install curb, gutter and sidewalk on the different approaches of all four legs of the roundabout.
Mohr said construction will see four different phases to allow for two lanes of traffic to always remain open. Phase one has been done along the Downing Avenue North corner by R&R Rentals, then work is progressing to each of the intersection’s four corners.
“Now they’re kind of working their way around the roundabout with the curb and gutter and it’s slowly going to come together so that you see the roundabout form there in the middle,” Mohr said. “There’s a lot of traffic and there’s a lot of businesses. It’s a major intersection and it’s tough, but I think the phasing plan is working pretty well.”
Businesses in the construction zone will remain open, and the city suggests visitors to the QFC plaza use the entrance off of Downing Avenue North.
When the project is finished, the center island will be filled with shrubs, boulders, and a few trees. The roundabout will have a single lane and will come with additional features along East North Bend Way including a median, splitter islands, stormwater improvements, planted trees, new signage, street lighting and shared use sidewalk and trail connections for bike and pedestrian traffic.
Mohr said that with this roundabout, the new median and the pre-existing roundabout on East North Bend Way at Southeast Cedar Falls, the area will be a “dog bone shape” and should majorly improve safety and traffic congestion.
The city received a $1-million dollar federal grant toward the project from the Rural Town Centers and Corridors Program of the Puget Sound Regional Council in 2017.