Options growing for Central Whidbey's Parker Road intersection changes
By NATHAN WHALEN
Whidbey News Times Staff reporter
October 29, 2012 · Updated 8:40 AM
Concerns about safety at the intersections of Highway 20 with Parker Road and old Smith Prairie Road just south of Coupeville have county transportation officials looking at options.
Island Transit wants to change the intersections to make for a better secondary access to its new headquarters that is being built. That second access point is a requirement for Island Transit’s occupancy permit, said Martha Rose, executive director.
However, its original plans to close the two intersections and install a second one between the two could be changing after hearing concerns from local residents. Neighbors living near the two intersections located by the Outlying Field argued that the changes could make the highway more dangerous for traffic.
“We’re still working on our evaluation of options,” said Todd Harrison, regional administrator for the Washington State Department of Transportation. He said options being considered range from installing a roundabout, installing left turn lanes or realigning the intersections.
He said staff members are looking at the cost of the options under consideration. Once those options are finalized, a public meeting will be scheduled sometime after Thanksgiving.
The state Department of Transportation hadn’t originally planned for any project concerning the intersections of Highway 20 with Parker and Old Smith Prairie roads.
Harrison said the highest priority safety project in the area is to install a left-turn lane from southbound Highway 20 into the county solid waste transfer station located north of Island Transit’s headquarters. The left turn lane project is scheduled to begin in 2014.
While WSDOT doesn’t have money for construction changes to the Parker and Morris roads areas of Highway 20, it does have money to design a possible project. Harrison said the state agency has $1.5 million in federal gas tax dollars.
Island Transit officials had originally wanted to close the intersections at Parker and Morris roads and build a new intersection between the two; however, plans changed when local residents voiced
concerns that the new intersection would be more dangerous than current conditions.
Rose said Island Transit held public meetings and worked with staff from Ebey’s Landing National Historic Reserve when its original plan was developed.
Construction is under way for a 51,000-square-foot facility located next to its current headquarters near the edge of Ebey’s Landing National Historic Reserve. Construction of the $17 million facility is expected to be complete sometime in the summer of 2013. Rose said plans for the intersection changes are on hold until the new options are discovered.
“We won’t have a secondary access until this is resolved,” Rose said.
Contact Whidbey News Times Staff reporter Nathan Whalen at email@example.com or 360-675-6611 ext. 5058.