In today’s construction news, discover that the Yakama Nation and the state Department of Transportation are working together to add at least four roundabouts to the U.S. 97 route to make driving and walking safer. The roundabout at U.S. 97 and Jones Road will be the second one and will be finished in the fall. Meanwhile, as part of a $16 million project to fix up the bridge, the first of two full closures started on Monday. Last but not least, yet another week of work on the Allen Street Reconstruction Project disrupted a bright and sunny day in Buffalo’s renowned Allentown Neighborhood.
Near Wapato, Work Has Started to Build a New Roundabout at Jones Road and U.S. 97
Monday’s roundabout groundbreaking between U.S. Highway 97 and Jones Road was focused on safety.
Three deaths and almost 50 crashes occurred at the intersection between 2001 and 2021; thus, cones and equipment were placed there.
The Yakama Nation and state Department of Transportation are working together to install at least four roundabouts on U.S. 97 to improve car and pedestrian safety. The fall will see the completion of the second roundabout on U.S. 97 and Jones Road.
“Safety is the most important thing,” said Portia Shields, assistant manager for the Yakama Nation Department of Natural Resources. “We’ve been working on this for years.”
Work has begun. U.S. 97 will have one lane each way, and Jones Road will be closed occasionally. Near the construction, U.S. 97 speed limits will drop.
WSDOT assistant administrator Brian White stated that roundabouts promote car and pedestrian safety. They delay automobiles and allow pedestrians to cross one direction of traffic at a time. T-bone and head-on automobile crashes are eliminated.
“I know at least a dozen people that have been hit at this intersection,” said HollyAnna DeCoteau Littlebull, who has been involved in the project and other traffic safety measures. “We’re chipping away intersection by intersection.”
Littlebull was the tribal traffic safety coordinator for the Yakama Nation Department of Natural Resources and will continue to work on traffic safety as the Northwest Tribal Technical Assistance Program’s associate director.
WSDOT reported over 700 crashes and approximately two dozen fatalities on U.S. 97 between Lateral A and Larue Road between 2001 and 2021. Shields said WSDOT and the Yakama Nation began working together years ago to find a solution.
She said that included surveys, listening sessions, and community outreach. Shields said roundabouts were supported by most.
In 2021, McDonald Road and U.S. 97 saw the first one. White stated that roundabout has seen more than 10 million vehicles and only five collisions.
Shields said local residents have welcomed the roundabout’s safer and easier driving.
She stated the community has responded positively. “This is just the beginning. We’ll keep going towards safety.”
After complete the roundabout on U.S. 97 and Jones Road this year, officials will start construction to the north, where U.S. 97 intersects Lateral A, in 2024.
U.S. 97 and State Route 22, SR 22 and Larue Road, and SR 22 and State Route 223 will also include roundabouts.
The Heritage Connectivity Trails, a 150-mile trail network in the Lower Yakima Valley, is being developed by Yakama Nation and WSDOT.
Littlebull said U.S. 97 between Union Gap and Larue Road will have a smart corridor. Littlebull was part of a crew that placed a traffic sensor near Larue Road and U.S. 97.
Littlebull said the smart corridor would “use different types of technology to get more information to the drivers.”
Sensors could warn drivers of road conditions in limited visibility or hazards. Littlebull said the smart corridor may have indicators advising cars their speed and if they should slow down.
Those projects are being planned and designed.
First Day of Complete Closure for the Rehabilitation Project at Memorial Bridge
Manistee’s Memorial Bridge on U.S. 31 is closed. A $16 million bridge renovation project began Monday with the first of two full closures.
The project’s contractor is Allegan’s Milbocker & Sons.
The shutdown will extend until Sept. 15.
Truck and normal traffic use distinct diversion routes. Large trucks detour through Filer City from M-55 to Stronach Road. U.S. 31 and Stronach Road, U.S. 31 and M-55, and Washington Street and Monroe Street have all-way stops due to detours.
Michigan law gives the first driver to stop the right of way through the intersection. The vehicle on the left shall yield to the vehicle on the right if two or more cars reach the intersection simultaneously. Last renovated in 2005, Memorial Bridge was erected in 1933. The planned rehab work includes a full deck replacement on the approach spans, cleaning and painting all the steel on the bridge spans, refurbishing the operator house, replacing the track and tread, a historical repair of the substructure, new electrical and mechanical equipment, and minor road work for the bridge approaches. First Street, Maple Street, and Memorial Drive are the northbound U.S. 31 passenger car diversion. Monroe Street, Maple Street, and First Street are detours for southbound passengers.
Ongoing Work on Allen Street Has a Significant Impact, According to Business Owners There
The Allen Street Reconstruction Project ruined another gorgeous day in Buffalo’s Allentown Neighborhood.
“It seems to have been taking quite a long time,” says Eric Peterson, who has lived in Allentown for nearly 20 years. “As a resident it seems to be extensive.”
From Delaware Avenue to Wadsworth Street, Phase Two of the Allen Street Reconstruction Project runs through Allentown. Utility work began on Phase Two in 2021.
Allentown resident ScottPatrick Sellitto said, “I don’t know how it’s taken this long,” adding, “It’s destroyed businesses here.” Businesses are struggling, closing, and selling. “It’s terrible.”
Moe Mghan, a longtime company entrepreneur, concurs. “It’s a nightmare for us,” Mghan, who has run Holly Farms Convenience Store on Allen Street for 30 years, said. The renovation has limited access to his store, hurting commerce, he claims.
Mghan stated, “A good 30% of my business, people can’t get here.” If construction doesn’t finish soon, Mghan doesn’t know what will happen. “If it keeps up, we are gonna run out of business, like a lot of stuff, everything on our block is up for sale.”
Anchor 7 News Jeff Russo inquired on the project’s status with the City of Buffalo Department of Public Works.
“We understand the frustration,” said City Engineer Nolan Skipper of the Buffalo DPW. Phase two of the Allen Street Reconstruction Project was intended to be finished in winter 2022, but Skipper says the contractor needs a 6-month extension.
“In negotiations with local companies, we decided to go block by block. Skipper added, “We knew the contractor would need extra time.”
Between Mariner and College Streets, the construction is concentrated. Over the previous few months, that block has taken the most damage. Skipper thinks it’ll be done soon. “Mariner to College we started in earnest in May and we are hopeful to pour concrete, weather dependent, next week and be out of the block, which would be the week of July 10th,” Skipper said.
After finishing the block between College and Wadsworth, work will proceed to Allen and Elmwood. By 2023, the project should be complete.
It’s a complete rebuild. In the city, these are rare. Skipper stated, “We understand there may be some pain, but like I said, with new infrastructure at the end of this we hope not to have to touch (this area) for 50 plus years.”
Summary of today’s construction news
To put it simply, in 2021, the first one was constructed at McDonald Road and U.S. 97. Only five collisions have happened in the more than 10 million vehicles that have gone around that roundabout, according to White of WSDOT.
Shields claimed that locals had applauded the roundabout’s contribution to safer and easier driving.
Meanwhile, the rehabilitation work that is anticipated includes replacing the entire deck on the approach spans, cleaning and painting all of the steel on the bridge spans, renovating the operator house, replacing the track and tread, performing a historical repair on the substructure, installing new electrical and mechanical equipment, and making minor repairs to the approaches to the bridge.
Lastly, Skipper said, “It’s a full reconstruction project. We don’t see many of these in the city. We understand there may be some pain to go through, but like I said, with new infrastructure built at the end of this, we hope not to have to touch (this area) for 50 plus years.”