A rendering of the roundabout planned for Yelm Highway SE and Meridian Road SE.
Active construction is quickly approaching at Yelm Highway SE and Meridian Road SE. Pacific Civil Infrastructure will be on site with trucks and equipment starting as soon as next week. During construction, users should expect significant delays, especially during commuting hours. Traffic will be reduced to one lane controlled by flaggers to switch directions.
"There are few options for drivers since there are only a couple of east-west roads in this part of the County," said engineer Brian Meier. Drivers can use the alternate route map to avoid delays. People riding bikes can refer to the Thurston County Bicycle Map to plan their alternate route.
Public Works designed a roundabout at this intersection to improve traffic flow and safety for drivers and walkers. When the project is finished, this roundabout will have single circulating lanes and left turn lanes to make it easier to access the local businesses without blocking traffic.
Roundabouts increase safety at intersections because they slow traffic down giving drivers more time to judge and react. According to the Federal Highway Administration, they reduce fatalities by up to 90% and injury crashes by 76%. Traffic flow is also improved by the addition of a roundabout as they increase the number of cars which can be on the road without congestion effects by at least 30%.
Over 10,000 drivers use this intersection each day. Yelm Highway is a major thoroughfare across SE Thurston County, connecting the communities of Yelm and Lacey, and provides access to SR 510 and I-5. Several neighborhoods in this part of the county rely on Yelm Highway SE and Meridian Road SE for access to their homes, work, and essential services. These roads also have wide enough shoulders for people on bikes to use.
Construction on this project started in September. The first step was clearing brush and trees out of the work area. Then utility companies were at the intersection moving cables and wires to ensure services like internet and electricity were not disconnected during construction.
The roundabout is expected to be complete in Fall 2022. You can get updates on the project webpage. If you would like to speak to someone, please contact Public Works at 360-867-2300. For questions about construction, ask for Steve Bricker. Ask for Brian Meier if you have general questions about the project.