Most people don't mind them. Some hate them but more are on the way in the lower valley. They're called roundabouts and the Yakama Nation Tribal Council has signed a resolution for the Washington State Department of Transportation to move forward with building four more roundabouts along US 97 and State Route 22 from Lateral A to State Route 223.

3 More roundabouts are planned with construction on the way

A press release says the funding is already available for three of the approved roundabouts located at:

US 97 and Lateral A.
    US 97 and SR 22.
    SR 22 at SR 223.

State officials say with the Tribal Council’s support, Washington State Department of Transportation can now pursue funding opportunities for the fourth intersection at US 97 and Larue Road intersection. They say if that's successful, WSDOT engineers could proceed with the design in the coming months.

Be careful if you drive US 97 on a daily basis

If you drive U.S. 97 be careful because state officials say the popular roadway has the highest car and pedestrian crash rates in the state, disproportionately affecting American Indian and Alaskan Native populations.
“The transition from four-way stoplight-controlled intersections to roundabouts at US 97 and Lateral A and US 97 and SR 22 is an important safety step,” said Brian White, WSDOT assistant region administrator. “Roundabouts greatly reduce the chances of a head-on and T-bone collisions. Since roundabouts slow traffic down, the severity of crashes is much lower, reducing the number of the most serious and fatal injuries.”

You've probably already driven around the first roundabout on US 97

In 2021, WSDOT constructed the first roundabout on US 97 at McDonald/Becker Road. Since construction, approximately 3.8 million drivers have successfully navigated the new roundabout with just two documented crashes. Each of those were caused by impairment and an unlicensed driver. A second roundabout is planned at US 97 and Jones Road with construction starting in 2023.

WSDOT has partnered with Yakama Nation Department of Natural Resources Engineering and the Yakama Nation Tribal Traffic Safety Committee since 2018. Working together, they have provided community engagement, driver safety campaigns and roundabout education with much more public outreach planned in the coming future.

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