News

Highway 20 gets much-needed facelift

Regular commuters on Highway 20 between Troxell and Monkey Hill roads likely noticed a change Monday morning.

That’s when Department of Transportation workers and crews from Thomco Construction began installing signage and fencing in preparation for roadwork to be completed on the 2.5 mile stretch of Highway 20.

The year-long project will build a passing lane in both directions of Highway 20 near Monkey Hill Road, realign Monkey Hill Road with Highway 20 and add a right-turn lane for drivers turning eastbound, and realign the Northgate Drive/Banta Road intersection and add left-turn and right-turn lanes.

Three of Island Transit’s bus pullouts will also be improved and realigned with the new intersection at Northgate Drive — a move Island Transit Operations Supervisor Roy Daniel supports.

“That is such a busy intersction there,” Daniel said. “I suppose realigning Northgate to Banta road will be an improvement for everyone. It would be nice if there could have been a traffic signal installed at this time, but at least the intersections will be aligned, and that will be helpful.”

Todd Harrison, Assistant Regional Administrator for the Burlington DOT office, said all construction should be completed by November 2006.

But in the interim, commuters could face a few delays.

“We designed this around traffic impact,” Harrison said. “That’s one of the things we look at. We shoot for no more than 10 minute delays in a normal situation.”

Those delays will likely not begin to affect commuters until next spring. While some construction can be completed during the fall, such as the removal of trees and relocation of utilities, Harrison said much of the work will get under way after the good spring weather starts.

“There’s going to be lane shifts during the duration of the project, through next summer,” Harrison added. “If we close a lane, it will be during the nighttime.”

Harrison said the lane closures shouldn’t affect most commuters. Any nighttime work would occur between Sunday night and Friday morning. Beginning Sundays, lanes would be closed at 7 p.m. and reopen by 6 a.m. through Thursday night. All lanes would be open Friday and Saturday, and close again at 7 p.m. on Sunday.

In addition to roadwork, construction crews will also build five stormwater treatment ponds between Troxell and Monkey Hill roads. The ponds, which Harrison estimates will be roughly 100 by 25 feet in size, will be located just north of Jones Road, two near the intersection northeast of Monkey Hill Road and Highway 20, southwest of Highway 20 near DeGraaf Road, and at the new Northgate Drive/Banta Road intersection.

The roadwork is one of 10 projects the DOT has lined up for Highway 20 between Coupeville and Burlington. The most recent project, completed in June, widened and straightened the highway between Oak Harbor and Frostad Road.

Beginning in the spring of 2006, the DOT will also begin road improvement projects between Troxell and Cornet Bay roads, and between Sidney and Scenic Heights roads south of Oak Harbor.

“This project isn’t about moving people faster, it’s about moving people safer,” Harrison said. “This area has a history of accidents and we’re doing something about it.”

The DOT estimates that more than 16,000 people drive Highway 20 daily.

For more information about this and other DOT projects on Whidbey Island, visit www.wsdot.wa.gov/Projects/SR20/MonkeyHill_TroxellRd/.

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