Kent City Council approves bid for roundabout along 108th Avenue SE

The $1.18 million project will change the intersection at SE 264th Street

It’s taken longer than expected, but a new roundabout will be built in Kent at 108th Avenue SE and SE 264th Street.

The City Council approved a $1.18 million bid by Buckley-based Strickland and Sons Excavation for the project at its Aug. 1 meeting. The company submitted the lowest of six bids. The council also approved a $253,845 consultant agreement with KBA Inc., of Olympia, to oversee the project.

“We don’t have the construction start date determined yet,” said city project engineer Thomas Leyrer in an Aug. 10 email. “The project just got awarded, and the contract will need to be executed first. Our construction management team will be coordinating the construction start date with the contractor.”

The entire project will be paid for using federal Highway Safety Improvement Program grant funds that were awarded to the city by the Washington State Department of Transportation.

Public Works staff decided to hire a consultant because of the stringent requirements of federal grants, said Jason Berry, city capital projects supervisor, in his July 18 report to the council’s Committee of the Whole. He said KBA specializes with local municipalities on federally funded construction projects.

“The 108th Avenue SE and SE 264th Street compact roundabout project will revise the existing stop sign controlled intersection to a compact roundabout to reduce vehicle speeds, reduce crash frequency and severity, and improve pedestrian crossings at this intersection,” according to city documents.

New concrete curbing, storm drainage, concrete retaining wall, sidewalks, driveways, pavement, striping and illumination will all be constructed as part of the project.

The council first accepted a state grant for the roundabout in March 2021 with potential completion by December 2022 but that timeline wasn’t met.

A compact roundabout features one lane and will be about half the size of the roundabout at Fourth Avenue South and Willis Street near downtown Kent that replaced traffic signals, according to city officials. A compact roundabout also features no landscaping and about a 3-foot high curb so large trucks can mount the curb to navigate through the roundabout. Large trucks from nearby Home Depot and Target stores may need to use the new roundabout.

Councilmember Les Thomas was the lone vote against the project bid by Strickland and Sons.

“I will be voting no,” Thomas said at the Aug. 1 meeting. “I’m in opposition because this is the wrong spot, it should be one street over for Home Depot traffic. I understand what (city staff) told us last week. This is I’m sending a message, it’s just the wrong place right now.”

Thomas also objected to the location at the July 18 committee meeting.

Rob Brown, city transportation engineering manager, told Thomas at the meeting that the grant program is partly based on a safety analysis and the 108th Avenue SE and SE 264th Street intersection ranked higher because of a couple of serious crashes at the location.

Roundabouts reduce serious crashes as they cause drivers to slow down, according to city traffic engineers.

According to the state Department of Transportation website, roundabouts reduced injury crashes by 75% at intersections where stop signs or traffic signals were previously used for traffic control, based on a study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Roundabouts also reduce overall collisions by 37%, fatality collisions by 90% and pedestrian collisions by 40%, according to the study.

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