Construction begins on improvements at busy Oak Harbor intersection
— Created February 19, 2020 by Kathy Reed
By Kathy Reed Whidbey Weekly
Drivers who frequent the intersection of Regatta Drive and Crescent Harbor Road in Oak Harbor should pack their patience for the next few months.
Construction at the busy intersection has begun, meaning a large portion of Regatta Drive will be closed for the next three to four months between NE 8th Ave. and NE 16th Ave. Crescent Harbor Rd. will be closed just west of the Torpedo Rd. intersection. Drivers will need to follow posted detour signs to navigate around the closures.
The construction will not affect access to NAS Whidbey Island Seaplane Base; Torpedo Gate will be open as usual, but drivers will not be able to access it from Regatta Drive, only from Torpedo Rd.
Approximately 6,500 vehicles travel through the Regatta/Crescent Harbor intersection each day. Heavy traffic volumes and a bypass lane from northbound Regatta Dr. onto Crescent Harbor Rd. has led to numerous accidents, which is why Island County is making changes there.
“One of the primary reasons for this project were collisions which appeared to be related to use of the ‘bypass’ lane,” said Connie Bowers, assistant county engineer for Island County Public Works. “The shape of the bypass allows vehicles to keep a pretty good speed as they enter Crescent Harbor Road [and] minimizes the automatic turn off of right turn signals, misleading opposing traffic. These two factors resulted in conflicts at the nearby Torpedo Road intersection.”
There will be no traffic light added to the intersection, nor is it being reconfigured as a roundabout. However, the northbound bypass lane will be converted to a traditional right turn lane, and a left turn lane will be added going southbound on Regatta.
“Adding a left turn lane for southbound Regatta Drive provides for good intersection performance as traffic volumes increase over time,” said Bowers.
Other changes to the topography of the intersection will also be made.
“A summary of the changes [include] lowering the intersection by about seven feet,” Bowers said. “This will reduce the grade on the approach from Torpedo Road, providing a better ‘landing place’ at the intersection itself, increasing sight distance and reducing the need to close the intersection in ice/snow events due to a slippery steep slope with not much landing pad.”
Additional improvements and features at the intersection will include increased lighting, retaining walls, storm water vault and fourfoot shoulders.
“Work on the project will be during daytime hours from approximately 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday, however the road closure in the project limits will be completely closed for 24 hours a day,” explained Bowers. “The construction is expected to be complete by July, 2020. The contract allows for a 60 working day closure. In calendar days, that could result in a 3 – 4 month closure.”
Bowers recommended the following detour routes to make traveling easier during the closure:
– From west of the project, take Taylor Road to Fakkema Road to get to SR 20.
– From south of the project, bypass the project on Whidbey Avenue if possible.
– From north or east of the project, use Whidbey Ave, Fakkema Road, or Torpedo Road, depending on the destination.
– Torpedo Road will be accessible to all traffic during the project.
Strider Construction is the contractor for the project, which will cost $1.6 million, however $1.2 million of that is grant-funded through the Federal Highway Administration’s Surface Transportation Block Grant program, according to Bowers.
More information about the project can be found online at www.islandcountywa.gov/PublicWorks/Roads/Pages/Crescent-Harbor— Regatta-Intersection-Project.aspx.