Big changes are coming to the intersection of Interstate 90 and state Route 902 to Medical Lake this year in the form of three roundabouts to keep traffic flowing through intersections on both sides of the freeway.
Traffic, which includes a steady stream of semitrailer trucks going to the Petro truck stop, frequently backs up when exiting westbound I-90, said Washington Department of Transportation project engineer Mark Allen at a recent community meeting in Medical Lake.
There will be roundabouts on each side of the freeway to handle traffic getting on and off the freeway and connecting to Route 902. “This project was conceived quite a few years ago,” he said.
The intersection of Route 902 and Geiger Boulevard is right next to where the westbound I-90 off ramp intersects with 902, adding to the congestion.
“This is a nightmare right now,” Allen said. “It’s really put a lot of pressure on that intersection.”
Geiger Boulevard curves shortly before the intersection and it will be straightened so it intersects with the highway a little farther down the road. “This separates those intersections,” he said. “There’s nothing there today. It’s vacant land.”
That intersection will be the third roundabout put in. All of the roundabouts will have concrete aprons for large vehicles to drive over. The interior of the roundabouts will be gravel instead of being planted with vegetation so they can accommodate “super loads” on extra long trucks, Allen said.
“This is a big truck route,” he said. “These are designed to accommodate the big trucks.”
The project also includes a new bridge over I-90 just to the west of the current one. The existing two-lane bridge will carry northbound traffic and the new bridge will carry southbound traffic.
This year Spokane County also plans to widen Geiger Boulevard to three lanes between Route 902 and Soda Lane to accommodate the new Amazon fulfillment facility, Allen said. The County will widen Geiger from Soda Lane to the I-90 Geiger interchange in 2020 and DOT will put in a roundabout at that intersection in 2020, he said.
A shared use path is also planned for the west side of Route 902 and will go over I-90 on the new bridge. It will also connect to a shared use path Spokane County will build along Geiger Boulevard as part of their road widening project.
Construction on the roundabouts and bridge is expected to begin in mid-June. Allen said the state will try to complete the project this year but it’s possible some of it might carry over to 2020.
“Hopefully we’ll get most of the bridge done,” he said. “It takes six to eight months to build a bridge. It’s tight.”
If the project is completed this year it will be just in time. The new Amazon fulfillment center just down the road from the Geiger Boulevard-Route 902 intersection is expected to open late this year and traffic going through that intersection is expected to increase considerably.
Route 902 will be kept open during construction, though people should anticipate delays, Allen said. Crews might also work at night in an effort to keep traffic disruptions to a minimum, he said.
The $18 million project includes an estimated cost of $15.3 million for construction of the bridge and roundabouts. The price tag includes an $800,000 federal grant and $1 million from the Spokane Transit Authority, Allen said. The rest of the funding is coming from a gas tax increase the state legislature approved in 2015, he said.
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