Work due on dangerous Arnold Road intersection near San de Fuca

A stretch of highway known for crashes and spinouts should become safer once an improvement project on Highway 20 is finished.

The Washington State Department of Transportation last week awarded a $2.3-million contract to Interwest Construction for a project on Highway 20 at the intersection of Arnold Road.

Plans call for reducing the sharp curve and leveling the roadway at the intersection of Highway 20 and Arnold Road, an area that is notorious for car accidents. Workers will re-align the west side of the Arnold Road intersection to improve visibility for drivers.

“This has been the site of numerous collisions,” said Marco Foster, engineering manager for WSDOT. “We are happy to break ground on these much-needed improvements.”

The sharp curves of Highway 20 near Arnold Road have seen numerous collisions over the years. Ninety collisions were counted on Highway 20 between 2005 and 2009. More recently, a two-car accident near the troubled intersection killed a woman last September.

To help reduce delays for the 11,000 drivers who use Highway 20, most required lane closures will take place at night. In addition, the new  lanes of the highway will be built next to the current highway. The old lanes will  remain open during most of the construction, then closed afterward. Arnold Road will be closed for about a week and a detour will be provided, according to a news release.

WSDOT spokesman Dave Chesson said a start date for construction hasn’t been set yet. A meeting will be scheduled for the groups involved to plan out the construction timeline.

Preliminary work in advance of the construction project is currently taking place.

Work crews have spent weeks moving transmission and power poles farther back from the highway, said Gretchen Aliabadi, spokeswoman with Puget Sound Energy. She said the poles have been relocated and  workers are now busy moving underground lines.

The Arnold Road project is one of several coming up to improve Whidbey’s highway.

Work begins next week to repave Highway 20 in Oak Harbor. In addition, Island Transit will start work on a project at a triangle-shaped property at the confusing intersection of Parker Road and Highway 20.

Transit officials plan to install a transit park and a second access to Island Transit headquarters.

Because the project is part of Island Transit’s master plan and it creates a second access for buses, it was best that the transit agency take the lead on improving the intersection around Parker Road, said Todd Carlson, planning and engineering services manager for the department of transportation.

“The motivation to do this is to develop a second access,” Carlson said of the need to improve conditions for transit vehicles.

He added planning is beginning on a project to improve Highway 20 around the transfer station, which lacks shoulders. The stretch of Highway 20 between Jacobs Road and Parker Road is the narrowest stretch of the highway on Whidbey. Such a project could take place as early as 2013, Carlson said.

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