Yelm City Council unanimously approves early roundabout designs

WSDOT providing $1.35 million for efforts


The city of Yelm is one step closer to installing a roundabout at a busy intersection.

During a meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 28, the Yelm City Council unanimously approved the preliminary design of roundabouts at state Route 507 and Bald Hill Road Southeast and Morris Road Southeast and Bald Hill Road intersection. The cost of the project is not to exceed $298,920.

According to Brad Chatwood, with Yelm Public Works, the Washington State Department of Transportation approached the City of Yelm about doing this project and later offered funding in the amount of $1,350,629 for the preliminary and conceptual designs of the roundabouts.

“(WSDOT) said if Yelm is willing to take care of it, we’ll fund it. There’s a smaller roundabout at Morris and Bald Hills, [that] remains to be seen. We have a lot of work to do, a lot of traffic studies to get through to figure out what our best options are,” Chatwood said. “This professional services agreement with Parametrix is just the first phase of this, just figuring out what our best options are. They’re going to come to us with a few different options of what that’s going to look like, and we’re going to have public involvement. We’ll probably do an open house at the Community Center to let everyone come in and share their thoughts and concerns.”

Chatwood said WSDOT reached out to Thurston County about doing a similar project for a roundabout at Vail Road, as well as with Pierce County for a roundabout at state Route 702. He added those project discussions have not progressed, which allowed discussions about the Bald Hill roundabouts to advance.

“We jumped at the chance because of the huge benefit this is for our city,” Chatwood said. “If you look at what the state would like to do, these roundabouts will work together. We all know that (state Route) 702 is terrible. So hopefully that (project) happens sooner [rather] than later. We’re getting the ball rolling now so we can get going on this. For day-to-day traffic, I think this is going to help us a lot.”

He added that while the addition of the roundabout would help day-to-day traffic throughout Yelm, an incident shutting down Interstate 5 would still cause traffic in town to back up until the other roundabouts are constructed.

Chatwood said the city received an obligation letter from WSDOT in the amount of $1,350,629 for the preliminary and conceptual designs of the Bald Hill roundabout projects, which led to Councilor Holly Smith asking if there was a contract with WSDOT that confirms this.

Chatwood said the city does have a contract with WSDOT, along with the letter and agreement. Mayor Joe DePinto added that the contract formalized everything.

“This is just the first phase of this. We’ve got almost $1.5 million to get through design. This is a big project, so there’s a lot that will go into this,” Chatwood said. “This almost-$300,000 is just to get us started. This is to … give us some ideas of what we can and can’t do. At that point, we would amend the contract for more to pull from this $1.35 million.”

DePinto added the city wouldn’t move forward to construction unless they have the money in hand.