By MICHAEL WHITNEY
Published October 26, 2022
Sultan to use roundabouts to fix U.S. 2 traffic clogs
SULTAN — The city has narrowed down its plan for fixing congestion through Sultan: Roundabouts, roundabouts, roundabouts.
Today’s stoplights are creating clogs of stop-go traffic for residents and travelers.
The city is centering on a plan to gradually widen U.S. 2 to four lanes, and build roundabouts at multiple highway intersections within the city.
The city is finessing the plan before it presents this final recommendation in mid-November to the City Council and will start lobbying Olympia for money for specific projects in January.
Mayor Russell Wiita said three notable projects appear to be on the horizon.
A new roundabout at the western edge of town at U.S. 2 and Fern Bluff Road/Old Owen Road, by the Red Apple grocery store, could arrive by the middle of this decade.
In downtown, the city is planning a two-lane roundabout at U.S. 2 and Main Street. Wiita feels confident the regional group that selects projects for federal transportation money will give Sultan the $2.4 million to build it. The city already has grant money to design it.
On the east end of town, the roundabout at Rice Road and U.S. 2 will be enlarged to make it two lanes. That one near the McDonald’s and Chevron was built about 10 years ago.
WSDOT received $17 million for U.S. 2 safety improvements from Monroe eastward.
The transportation agency recently added the U.S. 2 and Old Owen Road / Fern Bluff Road roundabout to its project list. Design efforts “are in the very early stages,” said Kris Olsen, a WSDOT spokeswoman.
This roundabout could start construction in 2024, Olsen said, based on initial estimates at the agency.
Other planned safety improvements between Monroe and Sultan include better signage, more crosswalks and safety improvements for pedestrians and bicyclists.
This spring, Sultan presented four ideas for fixing highway congestion in town — some with roundabouts and some with stoplights — and polled the public.
Wiita and others in City Hall are talking U.S. 2 with all the heavy hitters in the Legislature for transportation needs, such as the chairs of the Senate and House transportation committees.
The mayor doesn’t think lobbying to fund fixes on east U.S. 2 will intrude on the lobbying efforts for widening state Route 522 or fixing the U.S. 2 trestle.
All of these projects matter, and all benefit area residents. He reckons approximately 80 percent of Sultan’s commuters head west toward Monroe and disperse from there.
In other news, an idea to build a new east-west connector road within Sultan to bypass U.S. 2 has been scrapped due to numerous logistical complications.
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