WSDOT holding meeting on U.S. Route 2, Colbert Road intersection where three people have died in the last two years

<p><p>Crossing U.S. Highway 2 at Colbert Road can be awkward.</p></p><p><p>Step one, a driver waits at a stop sign. Step two, the driver crosses two lanes of traffic. Step three – if there are cars zooming past on the far side – the driver waits and yields in an island in the middle of the highway. Step four, the driver crosses the remaining two lanes of highway once the coast is clear and carries on along Colbert Road.</p></p><p><p>Some Colbert residents argue the intersection <a href=”https://www.spokesman.com/stories/2019/jan/24/washington-dot-regional-administrators-present-var” target=”_blank”>is dangerous and have lobbied the Washington State Department of Transportation to modify it and make it safer</a>. Three people, in three different crashes , have died at the intersection in the last two years.</p></p><p><p>Department of Transportation spokesman Ryan Overton said the intersection isn’t considered to be one of the most dangerous in the state, but it’s second on the department’s list of funding priorities right now.</p></p><p><p>That means the department will probably be able to redesign and rebuild the intersection soon. The Department of Transportation is holding <a href=”https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZwsc-GhqD0sEteYeGDV9nNUx1TSBBirpnaZ” target=”_blank”>a virtual public meeting Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. on Zoom</a> to provide an update on the project.</p></p><p><p>It’s not set in stone, but the Department of Transportation will probably install J-turns, also known as Michigan turns, at the intersection. Back in 2019, the department estimated that project would cost about $2.3 million.</p></p><p><p>J-turns would prevent people from driving straight across the highway. The opening in the 30-foot median, a grassy strip that divides the two northbound and two southbound lanes of traffic, would be closed.</p></p><p><p>If the Department of Transportation installs the J-turns, drivers wanting to stay on Colbert Road will still have to go through a few steps to cross, but it’ll be safer, Overton said.</p></p><p><p>Step one, a driver will turn right onto U.S. Highway 2. Step two, the driver will do a U-turn, turning left back onto the highway in the opposite direction. Step three, the driver will turn right, back onto Colbert Road.</p></p><p><p>Drivers at the intersection currently have to make lots of decisions quickly. J-turns help because they space out a driver’s decisions, Overton said.</p></p><p><p>Roundabouts have become a common way for the Department of Transportation to improve intersection safety in recent years. Overton said a roundabout wouldn’t be a good fit at the Colbert Road and U.S. Highway 2 intersection.</p></p><p><p>“They don’t work well at a divided median,” he said. “You still get the same safety benefits with a J-turn as you would with a roundabout.”</p></p><p><p>He added that the Colbert Road and U.S. Highway 2 intersection probably doesn’t have high enough traffic volumes to warrant a roundabout, which would be more expensive than the J-turns.</p></p><p><p>“It would have taken us an immense amount more money,” he said.</p></p><p><p>Overton also said it’s easier for the department to secure funding for J-turns.</p></p><p><p>If the Department of Transportation moves ahead with the J-turns option, Overton said the project likely would break ground in 2023, although there’s a slim chance construction could begin in late 2022. He said the work could be finished in 2023.</p></p><p><p>Anyone wanting to attend the meeting can register at <a href=”https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZwsc-GhqD0sEteYeGDV9nNUx1TSBBirpnaZ” target=”_blank”>us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZwsc-GhqD0sEteYeGDV9nNUx1TSBBirpnaZ</a>.</p></p>