The first full day of the Highway 12 revision in Burbank had some drivers in the area questioning the plans after a semi-truck tipped over in the new roundabout at the Highway 124 interchange.
Speed, however, was not a factor in the wreck, Washington State Patrol troopers said. The semi tipped onto its side because of a mechanical problem when something on the trailer broke, troopers said. No one was hurt.
Moe Davari, Washington Department of Transportation project engineer, acknowledged that Thursday morning's wreck wasn't the best news to help ease motorists into the traffic changes.
But, he added, the roundabout was designed specifically to handle semi-truck traffic. Davari said designers knew that trucks would be exiting on Highway 124 to get access to Humorist Road and the orchards along Highway 124.
"It's built for the trucks when they turn to get around there," Davaritold the Herald.
Motorists on Highway 12 have to use the new Highway 124 interchange to get into Burbank. There is no longer an option to turn off the highway at Humorist Road.
That ended around noon Wednesday when the new Humorist Road overpass opened and the Humorist Road intersection on Highway 12 closed.
That transition went smoothly and the contractor on Thursday already began removing the asphalt from the Humorist Road intersection to make sure nobody tries to cross the highway.
"Anytime you make a drastic change, it's going to take a couple of weeks for folks to get used to it," Davari said. "It's just going to take a little bit of time. One thing we will do is we will continue to monitor it ... and we will use signs (alerting drivers to the changes) until they get used to the new interchange."
Thursday's roundabout wreck likely won't be the last, but Davari said the benefit of collisions in the roundabout is that they're low-speed, low-impact and typically low- or no-injury.
"There will be fender benders, but of course, nobody will be hurt and there will be no fatalities," Davari said. "It's a huge change we made in that area."
Five people have been killed in five years in collisions at the Highway 124 and Humorist Road intersections on Highway 12. Removing those intersections means there will be no stopping on the highway and no cross-traffic, which eliminates T-bone or high-impact rear-end crashes.
A dedication ceremony is planned at 1 p.m. June 6 near the new roundabout.
-- Paula Horton: 582-1556; firstname.lastname@example.org