News

Oak Harbor, state planners mull temporary fix for HWY 20

A study will look at options for temporary measures for easing traffic flow on the busy section of Highway 20 between Erie Street and Swantown Avenue. -
A study will look at options for temporary measures for easing traffic flow on the busy section of Highway 20 between Erie Street and Swantown Avenue.
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Engineers from the state Department of Transportation will study a couple different options for short-term fixes to the Highway 20 traffic congestion at the south end of Oak Harbor.

Earlier this month, the City Council approved a letter of understanding with DOT for design work on the highway from Swantown Avenue to Erie Street. Under the agreement, the city will fund the work with up to $50,000 of a $1 million grant the city obtained in 2006 from the Regional Transportation Planning Organization.

City Engineer Eric Johnston explained that in 2005 a city consultant figured the cost of a full-scale reconstruction of the stretch of highway, with roundabouts and road widening, at $13 million. Oak Harbor received the $1 million grant for the project, but neither the city nor the state has been able to come up with more funding.

So instead, Johnston said planners from the city and state have been kicking around ideas for a short-term improvement. They came up with two proposals.

The first option is highway widening between Erie Street and Swantown to provide a continuous west-bound land and maintain the center left turn lane.

The second option is construction of “U-turn areas” at the two intersections and elimination of the center lane to provide a continuous westbound lane to Swantown Avenue. Since the center turn lane would be gone, drivers would have to use the U-turns to turn around and make only right turns.

The work by the DOT engineers will provide a traffic analysis, define the right-of-way needs and set a detailed cost estimate of the two options.

Then the city and state can go about trying to find grant funding for the smaller project.

You can reach News-Times reporter Jessie Stensland at jstensland@whidbeynewstimes.com or call 675-6611.

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