A rendering of the roundabout to be built along Reith Road at the intersection of Lake Fenwick Road and 44th Avenue South. COURTESY IMAGE, City of Kent

A rendering of the roundabout to be built along Reith Road at the intersection of Lake Fenwick Road and 44th Avenue South. COURTESY IMAGE, City of Kent

Reith Road in Kent to get two new roundabouts this year

City Council approves $4.28 million bid; project to start in late May or early June

Driving up and down Reith Road in Kent will take on a whole new look and process with construction to start soon on two new roundabouts.

The Kent City Council on April 2 unanimously approved a $4.28 million low bid to Puyallup-based Northwest Cascade Inc. to construct the roundabouts. The company had the lowest of four bids.

“We are very excited about this,” said City Public Works Director Chad Bieren during his report to the council. “We’ve had a number of inquiries over the years about getting up and down the hill. …We are hoping to calm traffic and slow speeds down.”

The roundabouts will go in at the intersections of Reith Road with Lake Fenwick Road and Reith Road with South 253rd Street. The existing stop sign controlled intersections will change to single-lane compact roundabouts to improve traffic flow for people walking, biking and driving.

In between the roundabouts, the outside travel lanes will be converted to separated one-way bike lanes while still maintaining needed capacity on the corridor with one-lane in each direction, according to city Public Works documents. The bike lanes will provide separated space for people who ride bikes, increase the separation between car travel lanes and the sidewalk, and help fill a gap in the city’s bike network.

People who walk will benefit from street crossings that will be shorter, simpler and some will benefit from flashing beacons that flash when a button is pressed.

The project will also extend the sidewalk towards Kent-Des-Moines Road (SR 516) on one side of Reith Road while providing rideable shoulders in both directions for bikes.

“I know there are a lot of neighbors in that area that are really excited to have this project going,” Mayor Dana Ralph said at the meeting.

The city’s awarding of the project means work will start soon.

“We anticipate work will start late May/early June,” Bieren said in an April 11 email. “Much of the construction will be completed this summer/fall, with some work completed in the spring of 2025.”

Drivers should expect temporary traffic control, lane closures, road closures and detours during the construction phase of this project.

The city received an $1.59 million grant from the state Transportation Improvement Board (funded by the gas tax) to help pay for the project. The remain costs will be covered by a combination of monies from the city street fund (paid for by the city business & occupation tax) and city Transportation Impact Fees (charged to new developments and pre-existing structures with a major change in use), according to city documents.

Pedestrian death

Back in 2019, Sarah Kier sought improvements to the Reith Road intersection with Lake Fenwick Road, shortly after Larry Kier, 37, her brother, was struck and killed by a pickup driver as he walked across the street on Aug. 23, 2019.

During an interview with the Kent Reporter in 2019 at the intersection, Kier couldn’t believe what she saw, according to the article.

She discovered a intersection so dangerous for pedestrians that they crossed the street in fear to get to two nearby bus stops. Kier said her brother had visited his girlfriend’s apartment near the intersection that night and left to catch a bus.

“People looked absolutely terrified,” Kier said as she watched them cross Reith Road.

“Sometimes they just stand there for a while. One girl kept walking back and forth trying to figure out the best place to cross. People are thinking about it, but there’s nothing here.”

Kier continued.

“When I sat here and watched people try to cross the street, that’s what made me really mad,” she said. “It doesn’t need to happen to anyone else, but with no lighting, no crosswalk this isn’t OK, it’s not safe for people. It’s not just about me and my brother and being emotional, this is not OK.”

The roundabouts are expected to slow traffic and give pedestrians a safer place to cross, according to city documents.

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