King County is repaving Vashon Island’s busiest thoroughfare, which was last comprehensively overlaid about 25 years ago.
The Vashon Highway Southwest paving project begins this summer. With the exception of two portions of the roadway that were paved less than a decade ago, nearly all of the 12 mile long roadway will receive a new pavement surface – from the Tahlequah Ferry Terminal in the south, through the island’s main business area, all the way to the northern ferry terminal that serves the King County Water Taxi, Fauntleroy and Southworth ferry traffic.
Repaving Vashon Highway will save the public money in the long run. Delaying repaving to the point where more significant repairs – or worse, full reconstruction – are needed, could cost five times as much.
Some pre-pavement work will start as early as May, when old drainage infrastructure will be replaced and other necessary roadway repairs will be made before the repaving begins. The first of the road repair work is scheduled to begin Monday, May 14 at 8 a.m. on Vashon Highway Southwest from Southwest Pohl Road to 1000 feet north near the Tahlequah ferry dock. The work requires a 24-hour lane closure through Monday, May 21. Detour signs will be posted for ferry traffic. Motorists should expect delays. Click HERE to visit the My Commute page.
It is anticipated that the actual repaving will begin in June, depending upon weather and the contractor’s schedule. Once paving begins, crews will need to close one lane. Detours will be set up, or a flagger will direct traffic through work zones.
We know road restrictions are inconvenient for motorists and businesses. Information about restrictions helps the public avoid project areas and mitigates the inconvenience. Details of the project have been shared with the Vashon Chamber of Commerce and local media. Also, steps have been taken to avoid some conflicts during the busiest periods of summer. Paving work will not occur on July 3rd or 4th for the Fourth of July holiday, nor July 19 – 22 during the Strawberry Festival. The contractor has three months to complete the job, although the work is weather dependent and the schedule is subject to modification. Work is likely to be completed in September.
A number of concerns have been shared, mostly by cyclists, about whether Vashon Highway should continue to have rumble strips. Although the rumble strips have resulted in a significant reduction in serious injuries and deaths from crashes, concerns about specific locations and alternatives to the current design that may provide similar levels of life safety protections, while minimizing disruptions, are under evaluation.
Currently under consideration are design modifications that include narrowing the width of the rumble strips and/or placing them on top of, rather than next to, the fog line. Also, traffic engineers are evaluating whether additional or changed “crossing gaps” should be put in place. The county is working directly with concerned cyclists and constituents to identify potential improvements. King County data shows that the rumble strips on Vashon Highway have led to a 30 percent reduction in crashes since their original installation about five years ago. This is a significant improvement in road safety for the people of Vashon Island and makes the reinstallation of rumble strips on Vashon Highway after repaving a matter of public safety.
To get the latest updates on the Vashon Highway Southwest paving project, visit kingcounty.gov/vashonhighway and click on the red “Stay connected” button to sign up for Road Alerts.