Island paving project to begin this month with revised rumble strips

The Vashon Highway Southwest paving project will begin this month with preparatory work followed by paving that will take place the length of the Vashon Highway.

Preliminary work at the south end of the island, from Pohl Road to 1,000 feet north near the Tahlequah ferry dock, is set to begin at 8 a.m. Monday, May 14. Motorists should expect delays and follow posted detour signs. The work requires a 24-hour lane closure through Monday, May 21.

The date for the majority of the work has not been set yet, according to Brett Champaco, a spokesman for the King County Department of Transportation.

Champaco said that because of the size of the project, the county is making a concerted effort to let people know about it — and stress to people they should expect delays when it begins.

“It is a big project for us and for those who live on the island, and we want to do it the best way we can,” he said.

When the project was first announced, several bicyclists in the community were upset to learn that the county intended to replace the rumble strips — divots in the pavement that alert drivers when crossed. They created a controversy when they were installed with no warning in 2012, as many cyclists believe they can be dangerous.

Last week, Champaco said county officials had spoken with cyclists from Vashon and will be making changes accordingly.

“We understand the concerns,” he said. “There are some things we can do to provide the benefit of rumble strips but alter the location and width of them so their is more room on the shoulders for non-motorized uses.”

Islander and engineer Henry Haselton was one of the cyclists who spoke with the county officials. He said that while he and others had been upset the county had not communicated their plans previously, he believes the meeting went well.

“I felt like it was a positive meeting. I felt like they heard us and want us to contribute,” he said.

Island cyclists will gather to talk about the plan later this week. Haselton said among their requests will be to keep the strips narrow — make them rumble stripes, not strips — and not install them where this is less than 4 feet of room.

“We do not want to ask for stuff that will compromise safety,” he added.

It has been 25 years since the highway was repaved, Champaco said, noting that this is strictly a preservation project and not one intended to make other improvements.

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