Construction of a new roundabout at Harvard Road and Mission Avenue on the north end of Liberty Lake will start Saturday and is expected to last nine weeks.
Traffic will be disrupted, but the roads will be open. Cars will be allowed to use the westbound Interstate 90 offramp at Harvard until the last part of the project.
“It’s a roundabout, so you just can’t sneak in and do it at night,” said Washington State Department of Transportation spokesman Al Gilson. “Drivers should expect slow traffic, congestion and rough pavement.”
Access to Mission Avenue and the businesses near the intersection will remain open at all times, Gilson said. The exact time of the freeway offramp closure will be announced later, he said. “We’ll have a two-week notice of their closure date,” he said. “If that one is closed they can go to the Country Vista one. It’s the next one down the road.”
Pedestrians may also find it difficult to get around during the project. “We have to change everything right there,” Gilson said. “That includes sidewalks.”
The project is being done in partnership with the city of Liberty Lake, which is paying $600,000 from its Harvard Road Mitigation Fund paid into by developers. “The city worked on the landscape design and the pedestrian amenities,” said city administrator Katy Allen. “There is some vegetation that’s going into the center as well as some public art and an entryway sign into Liberty Lake.”
The art hasn’t been selected yet and will be installed at a later date. The sign and vegetation will go in with the roundabout. Allen said the city picked low-maintenance vegetation for the center of the roundabout rather than grass that would require mowing.
Studies have shown that roundabouts with landscaping in the center may be safer than just bare concrete, Allen said. “The motorist is looking to the left for oncoming traffic instead of looking through it,” she said.
Allen said commuters might want to use a different route during construction unless they need to access the businesses there. “It’s a choke point in Liberty Lake,” she said. “There is not a great detour. If you have alternative routes, I would encourage people to use them.”
Wm. Winkler Construction was awarded the contract for the project with a bid of $1.2 million.