Aberdeen city engineer says roundabout project ‘still going well’ despite ‘a few hiccups’

A little less than four months after the city of Aberdeen embarked on installing a roundabout at the former five-way intersection at the two-way East Market Street, two-way F Street, and one-way Fuller Way, the city shows confidence in the project finishing up on time.

The on-time aspect should be music to the ears of local business owners in that area, because when the project started, there were principal concerns about customer access. Those concerns still exist, according to Nick Bird, Aberdeen city engineer.

“In the communications I have had with adjacent property owners, we were able to work through these concerns with the intent of providing a finished product that meets their needs,” Bird said.

The project is supposed to make for more “intersection efficiency,” provide “the capacity to accommodate anticipated growth,” and make for safer traffic, according to Bird.

“It will eliminate the confusion of the offset signal that led to 50 percent of the crashes between 2016 and 2018,” said Bird in mid-April.

Bird recently gave an update on the city’s current steps and next steps needed to open up the roundabout to traffic.

According to Bird, the contractor is currently finishing up on the curbing and the subgrade for the roundabout, with the last bit of concrete flatwork ‘hopefully’ going in next week.

“The current plan is to install asphalt (during) the week of Aug. 15,” Bird said.

Construction started Monday, April 18. Since then, it’s been 113 days. Judging from what Bird has said about the project, construction has mostly gone according to plan.

Back in June, Bird estimated “mid-September” as the point in time when the roundabout would be completed. Two months later, it doesn’t seem as though that timeline is far off.

“Things are still going well,” said Bird to The Daily World on Wednesday, Aug. 3. “We have had a few hiccups, which is kind of expected with traditional construction activities.”

One of those hiccups was discovering a stormwater line that was “a little high,” according to Bird.

“We needed to make some adjustments there, and that did create a little bit of an impact,” Bird said. “The other notable impact to our schedule was we had to overexcavate some unsuitable soils. That really translated to a little bit more of an impact on our schedule than we were hoping.”

Bird explained how excavating unsuitable soil means removing material that is not strong enough to support the roadway and replacing it with material that is more appropriate.

It sounds like that unsuitable soil would be akin to starting a gingerbread house’s foundation with chocolate sauce.

But, as Bird continued, the project has progressed far enough ahead in schedule that it is still on-track to finish near the start of the fall season. That’s good news since the average rainfall in September since 2016 at Hoquiam Bowerman Airport — the nearest location the National Weather Services uses — has been 3.66 inches. Since that year, more than twice that rainfall — 7.91 inches on average — happens in October.

“Hopefully, (we’ll) have asphalt down (there) by the end of the month,” Bird said.

Bird said the asphalt installation should start Monday, Aug. 15, and he expects it to take “about a week.”

After that, the pavement will go through the curing process, which takes about 21 days.

“We do anticipate (traffic lane) striping will be completed (in the) middle of September,” Bird said. “That’s kind of the current game plan.”

One question that Bird did not have an answer for is when motorists would have their chance to use the roundabout.

Bird said this project of replacing the former intersection and installing the roundabout has been “more challenging” than most.

“This is mostly attributed to a number of minor issues compounded by a few big ones,” Bird said.

But, he sees the positives that the roundabout will bring once the road opens.

“At the end of the day, overcoming the project challenges, providing a good product for the community and minimizing the expense to the city generally makes me feel like we (will) have completed a successful project,” Bird said.