WSDOT finalizing study on SR 202 improvements near Fall City

The Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) is finalizing two studies of the State Route 202 corridor and proposing several construction changes near Fall City aimed at improving safety and pedestrian access.

The studies were proposed by the state in 2020, to focus on near-term, rapid improvements, rather than larger projects that could be made along sections of SR 202. The highway has a series of dangerous intersections and a history of crashes, and it lacks pedestrian infrastructure in most places.

“This is a rural section of high speed highway. Safety is a real concern out here,” said Thomas Noyes, a senior transportation planner with WSDOT. “We’re really looking to beef up pedestrian facilities along SR 202.”

The two studies each look at a different section of the highway. One looks at the road between 224th Avenue Northeast, near Sammamish, and 324th Avenue Southeast. The other study looks at SR 202 improvements between 324th Avenue Southeast and State Route 203.

Under the proposed plan, Fall City’s main street could see several changes. Possibly the most significant will be a compact roundabout and crosswalks at the intersection of SR 202 and Preston-Fall City Road near the Snoqualmie River Bridge.

In a survey of over 700 Fall City residents, 44% said they had issues turning onto or from SR 202 at this intersection, while 18% reported difficulties with pedestrians.

Other changes include reorganizing the 334th Place and 42nd Street intersection near Chief Kanim Middle School from a Y-intersection to a T-intersection, and reorganizing parking for the downtown business district from front-end parking to back-end angle parking. Both changes are expected to increase pedestrian and traffic safety.

The proposal would also introduce a 14-foot shared use sidewalk, with adjacent parking, that would connect into the proposed Westside Trail from the Fall City Metro Park District.

Outside of Fall City, the study also proposed two roundabouts at the Tolt Hill Road and Ames Lake Road intersections in an effort to prevent angled crashes. In a survey of residents, 60% said they had safety concerns about the Tolt Hill intersection

“Roundabouts are a proven strategy to reduce angled crashes,” said Maan Sidhu, a traffic engineer with the county.

The proposal also identified the intersection at 264th Avenue Northeast, Southeast 31st Street and 308th Avenue Southeast as in need of additional evaluation and improvements.

These concepts are yet to receive funding, but WSDOT officials said they will look for opportunities going forward. The cost to implement these changes in downtown Fall City is $10.1 million. That is not including an additional $7.3 million for the Ames Lake roundabout and another $9.7 million for the Tolt Hill roundabout.

Construction could take anywhere from 1 to 12 years, according to WSDOT. A final draft report of these projects, including more information on road safety, is expected sometime this winter.