New roundabout in the works for Highway 20 intersection

Pre-construction has begun for a roundabout on Highway 20 and West Fakkema Road.

The Department of Transportation has entered its pre-construction phase for a roundabout on Highway 20 and West Fakkema Road.

The project will start next spring and finish up next summer, but most of the work will be done during a five-day closure of the intersection, where cars will be detoured.

According to the Department of Transportation, over 17,000 vehicles use that intersection daily, an increase of 6% in the last decade. The intersection fell into the state’s highway safety improvement program, and a roundabout proved to be the most cost-effective solution.

Roundabouts reduce injuries by 75% and fatalities by 90%, the department reports. Roundabouts also reduce maintenance costs, traffic delays, fuel consumption and air pollution.

The department is constantly reviewing roadways for safety and preservation needs, said Chris Damitio, northwest region project engineer. Washington State Patrol data showed a higher level of collisions at the Fakkema intersection than similar areas.

Communications Officer Madison Sehlke acknowledged that not everyone will be happy with the change, especially the removal of the passing lane after the light on Ault Field Road. Frustrations continually arise about the island’s two-lane highway with few passing lanes. With heavy truck traffic southbound into Oak Harbor, traffic safety comes with more traffic clutter.

When safety is a concern, public input is not always part of the process, she said. The best way for locals to give input in this type of thing is through the county’s comprehensive plan process.

“While the public may prefer one flow over the other, we reject the premise that we would consider an alternative that would make the road less safe,” Sehlke wrote in an email.