On Friday, January 22, The State Transportation Improvement Board awarded Thurston County $3.9 million for the Yelm Highway Improvement Project. The section of Yelm Highway between Henderson Boulevard and Rich Road (approximately 1.25 miles) will be widened to provide an extra travel lane in each direction, sidewalks and bike lanes. Two roundabouts, one at Boulevard Road and one at Brassfield Street, will also be constructed. The project, slated to begin in late March, is expected to be completed in the fall of 2011. In advance of county construction, utilities such as power, gas and phone, will be working in the area. Currently, Potelco is relocating power poles.
Motorists can expect delays as lane restrictions will be in place at various times throughout construction. “Traffic delays are inevitable in a project of this size,” says Project Engineer Theresa Parsons, “however, the county and our contractor will do everything within our power to keep delays to a minimum. We will give advance notice of significant delays whenever possible. We advise commuters to build in extra time into their travel plans, and to consider alternate routes when possible.”
The $10 million road portion of the project is funded from several sources: State Transportation Improvement Board, $3.9 million; Thurston County Roads Fund, $3.5 million; federal funds, $1.6 million; City of Olympia, $506,000; County Mitigation fund, $444,000, and Intercity Transit, $15,000. In conjunction with the county project, the City of Olympia will upgrade sewer and water utilities in the area.
The county designed the improvement project following the “East-West Corridor Study,” conducted in 1998 for Thurston County and its cities. “The study identified Yelm Highway as the most feasible east-west corridor in the county, provided that it be widened from two lanes to four and include other improvements,” says County Engineer Dale Rancour.
“Since the beginning, this project has benefitted from strong community input,” says Public Works Director Lester Olson. “We’re committed to continuing good communication. In addition to updates sent to the media, we’ll also be using reader boards, fliers, the web and twitter to keep the public informed.” Project details are available at: yelmhighwayinfo.blogspot.com/ or by calling 754-4580.
Highlights of Yelm Highway Project
Two through lanes in each direction between Henderson Boulevard and Rich Road.
Bike lanes, sidewalks and pedestrian crossings
Roundabouts at Boulevard Road and Brassfield Street
Will increase capacity and safety at these locations and reduce congestion during peak hours.
In addition to adding greenery and aesthetics to the site where feasible, the planting areas will be used for storm drainage, signage, and power poles. The islands will direct and minimize traffic conflicts at several intersections and driveways.
Roundabouts at Henderson Boulevard and Rich Road will allow passenger vehicles to make U-turns at those locations. This will eliminate left turns in key locations which, in turn, will minimize congestion and increase safety.
Stormwater from the improvements will be collected, treated and infiltrated in compliance with current standards. There will be no significant impacts to the lake or adjacent property.
Noise walls will be constructed in several locations (where feasible) to minimize impacts to adjacent properties