Roundabout to alleviate Hanford traffic delayed until next year

A roundabout planned to alleviate Hanford traffic in north Richland is now delayed until next spring.

A traffic circle is planned at the intersection of Highways 240 and 225 and Route 10 adjacent to the Hanford nuclear site.

“There’s been a lot of near misses in the area and also a lot of congestion, especially during the morning and afternoon hours,” said Jackie Ramirez with the Washington State Department of Transportation, or WSDOT.

The state agency is working through environmental impacts regulations related to the roundabout and now expects construction to begin in April 2023 instead of this summer.

A portion of the roundabout will be on the Hanford site and requires collaboration with the U.S. Department of Energy to complete.

“That intersection is on SR 240 and part of it is SR 225, which leads people toward West Richland,” Ramirez said. “The other side is Route 10 where people who work for Hanford go in, and so you have a whole line of traffic entering Hanford in the morning, and in the afternoon, you have a line of traffic trying to take a left onto 240 where the speed limit it 55 mph, and they often have to take their chances when taking that left. We’re trying to get drivers to slow down in that area so there aren’t any collisions and get people in and out as efficiently as possible.”

The project is funded by the Connecting Washington infrastructure investment package passed in 2015 and expected to include $16 billion in investments through an 11.9 cent gas tax that went into effect in 2016.

Ridgeline Drive-Highway 395

The package is also paying for improvements at Ridgeline Drive and Highway 395 in Kennewick near Trios Hospital in the Southridge area.

The interchange includes an underpass for Ridgeline traffic to travel east and west under the highway without crossing it.

WSDOT had determined a traffic signal was impractical at the location mostly due to truck traffic using the route combined with a steep grade.

The work will add on- and off-ramps as well as an additional northbound lane on Highway 395 north from Ridgeline to Hildebrand Road, plus turning lanes at the Highway 395 and Hildebrand intersection.

Work began in spring 2021 and by this July traffic is expected to be moved back onto the Highway 395 route instead of diverting it to the east of the highway on a detour bypass.

The city of Kennewick said northbound and southbound on- and off-ramps, an additional 395 northbound lane and a roundabout at Zintel and Ridgeline will all be constructed by the end of July.

Work also will include an intersection expansion and signal work at 395 and Hildebrand.

The $22 million project is on schedule to be completed by October.

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