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Queensgate drivers, get ready for more changes

Motorists make their way through detours around construction activity Monday morning at the new roundabout being built near the Queensgate ovperass spanning Interstate 182 in Richland.
Motorists make their way through detours around construction activity Monday morning at the new roundabout being built near the Queensgate ovperass spanning Interstate 182 in Richland.

There's good news for the drivers dodging construction detours on Queensgate Way.

The southernmost intersection, at Keene Road, should return to normal by the end of the week, or early next week at the latest.

Drivers turning onto Queengate were funneled into a single lane, leading to backups in the past week as Culbert Construction completed work at the first of three phases.

Jay Marlow, capital projects manager, said the the first phase will be done, though he acknowledged drivers suffered in afternoon backups.

Marlow reports Culbert is tracking to wrap up the Queensgate overhaul by its Aug. 14 deadline.

Crews are converting the formerly signalized intersection at Queensgate and the eastbound Interstate 182 ramps into a roundabout. Detours route drivers around the area.

Preliminary work begins soon on the second roundabout, at Queensgate and Columbia Park Trail.

The Washington State Department of Transportation explains how to safely navigate the multi-lane traffic circle, also known as a roundabout, at the intersection of Guide Meridian (SR 539) and Pole Road (SR 544).

Marlow said drivers will see flaggers at that intersection as workers begin the utility work that has to happen before the road is built.

Richland is investing more than $5 million in federal and local money as well as its share of a state sales tax rebate funneled to local government for economic development.

Benton County splits the Rural County Capital Fund with cities for transformative projects.

For Richland, overhauling the southern stretch of Queensgate is expected to be transformative.

It is designed to address increasing traffic and to improve connections between south Richland and the city's northern and central neighborhoods.

Queensgate links with Duportail, which will connect to central Richland when the Duportail Bridge opens in 2020.

A 2015 study by J-U-B Engineers found substantial delays on Queensgate Drive during evening commute hours.

The study anticipated the congestion would only worsen as new homes and businesses are constructed at Badger Mountain South.

The addition of the new bridge and corridor improvements should buy the city 15 years of breathing room.

The overall project is adding a new westbound right-turn lane from Keene Road onto Queensgate, two new travel lanes along the stretch, the two roundabouts, new bicycle lanes and sidewalks on both sides and a shared path to connect the Keene Road path to the I-182 path.

Columbia Park Trail will be extended west past Queensgate Drive to Jericho Court.

Project documents, construction updates, detour alerts and maps of the new roundabouts are posted at bit.ly/QueenstageCorridor

Wendy Culverwell: 509-582-1514
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