The City of Olympia’s plan to revamp the 4th and 5th avenue bridge and change traffic patterns with roundabouts is has taken focus. The Olympia City Council plans to make decisions on the bridge type to be used as well as other design details on July 20.
The City of Olympia’s Corridor Vision Advisory Committee will recommend a $25 million delta frame design to the council. The simple, open design was selected by the Committee following a series of public meetings. The plan calls for the new bridge to be called Olympic Way.
The biggest change commuters will notice if the plan is implemented are roundabouts rather than traffic signals to facilitate traffic flow at each end of the bridge.
So far, public reaction to the roundabout idea is positive, says Mike Terrell, Entranco engineer working on the project, but there are skeptics.
“Some people are a bit skeptical of how roundabouts work,” Terrell says. The answer, he says, is that with roundabouts, traffic will move easier than it does now.
“If you’re coming from the westside Fourth Avenue hill, for example, right now you cannot make a left up Harrison,” Terrell says. “With a roundabout you would be able to do that.”
A survey of 156 owners indicates that downtown businesses are more worried about the impact construction of the bridge will have than they are about roundabouts.
About 80 percent of downtown businesses, particularly those that rely on drop-in customers, worry that construction will hurt their revenue and believe the existing bridge should remain open during construction.