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Wednesday, September 18, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Spokane

Confusion abounds at new U.S. Highway 2 roundabout

A pair of cars wait to enter the roundabout after leaving the Spokane Tribe Casino on U.S Highway 2, Friday, Jan. 26, 2018, in Airway Heights, Wash. Dan Pelle/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)
A pair of cars wait to enter the roundabout after leaving the Spokane Tribe Casino on U.S Highway 2, Friday, Jan. 26, 2018, in Airway Heights, Wash. Dan Pelle/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)

Shocker of the day: the new roundabout on U.S. Highway 2 is confusing drivers.

Officials at the Washington state Department of Transportation say motorists on the highway are failing to yield to cars pulling out at the entrance of the Spokane Tribe Casino in Airway Heights.

“What we’re seeing, and this isn’t everyone, is drivers on the Highway 2 mainline are not yielding to the side traffic,” said Al Gilson, spokesman for WSDOT. “We need people to yield to vehicles already in the roundabout.”

Gilson said it’s a simple matter of user error. When the roundabout opened in November, the casino was still two months away from opening its doors and highway drivers got used to blowing through the roundabout.

“Folks on Highway 2 just got used to driving it,” Gilson said. “There was nobody to stop for.”

But now, casino patrons are there, but some of the drivers on U.S. 2 don’t seem to notice.

When the first multi-lane roundabout in Spokane opened back in November, WSDOT officials sent out primers on the rules and ways of the circular intersection. They’re sending them out again:

  • Slow down and select the correct lane before entering the roundabout.
  • Yield to traffic already in the roundabout. Wait for a gap, then enter the correct lane.
  • Use turn signals when exiting the roundabout. Drivers exiting from the left lane should be aware of other vehicles in the right lane and use caution.
  • Yield to any pedestrians who may be crossing the road when exiting the roundabout.

Trooper Jeff Sevigney, a spokesman for the Washington State Patrol, said he wasn’t aware of an uptick in incidents at the roundabout but said drivers need to be more careful at the intersection.

“Read the signs and yield to traffic on the right,” he said. “And the left.”

Gilson said he’s optimistic that any kinks with the roundabout will get worked out once drivers get used to it.

“It’s a growing pain we’re having. It’s the first multi-lane roundabout. They just don’t know how to use them yet,” he said. “It’s an operational issue with driver behavior. The design is correct. The signage is correct. They just don’t know how to use it.”

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