#25 – Grandview Drive Roundabout and Corridor Improvements

University Place, Washington

Ben Yazici, City Manager, City of Sammamish, WA; Former Assistant City Manager/Director of Public Works for City of University Place, WA
Contributions by Steve Sugg, Current Director of Public Works, University Place, WA


Because Grandview Drive (an arterial road) lacked adequate shoulders, children bicycling and walking to school were forced to travel along the edge of paved travel lanes, adjacent to 45 mph traffic. In 1996, the University Place Council and staff commenced a public involvement process in the community to determine the improvement options for Grandview Drive. Grandview Drive is a secondary arterial that provides access to a high school, middle school and over 200 residents. It ends at the City’s undeveloped 700-acre waterfront. The one-mile stretch of road did not have any pedestrian or bicycle facilities, and although the speed limit on the road was marked as 35 mph (56 kph), the average speed was as high as 42 to 45 mph (73 kph). Therefore, the children were forced to negotiate this commute — adjacent to high speeding vehicles — by walking on the edge of travel lanes, as there was no other place for them to walk (see figure 1).

In addition, the intersection of Grandview Drive and Olympic Drive was controlled by a four-way stop, causing traffic to back up hundreds of feet in every direction during peak hours. Many impatient drivers, waiting to cross the intersection, did not pay attention to the pedestrians and bicyclists who were trying to cross the roadway.

Figure 1. Grandview Drive before roundabouts bike lanes, and other improvements were added.

Figure 2. Diagram of conflict points at roundabout and conventional four-way intersections.

Figure 3. Redesigned Grandview drive with roundabout, bike lanes, crosswalks, curb and sidewalk with buffer strips and enhanced lighting.


After many public meetings, the City Council decided to build Washington State’s very first modern roundabout at the intersection of Grandview Drive and Olympic Drive.

Initially, there was overwhelming opposition to the roundabout from the community. Many residents were concerned that it would create more safety problems for pedestrian and bicyclists. So, the Council decided to build a temporary roundabout for twelve months. At the end of the twelve-month period, an analysis was to be conducted, including an assessment of the community’s acceptance along with technical data to help decide the fate of the roundabout.

The City did extensive research on the roundabout. Fewer and less severe accidents were expected with roundabout-controlled intersections than with signal or stop-controlled intersections. While there are 32 potential conflict points at a conventional (sign or signal controlled) intersection, there are only 12 potential conflict points in a roundabout (figure 2).

After the test period, community acceptance of the roundabout was measured at 75+ percent, so the Council decided to keep it as a permanent traffic control device. Ultimately, the entire roadway was reconstructed with curbs, gutters, sidewalks, bike lanes, planter strips and street lighting (see figure 3). And four additional roundabouts were constructed, along with four mid-block school crosswalks with yellow flashers.

Evaluation and Results

Delay and crashes have both decreased for motor vehicle traffic. Residents perceived the roadway’s gravel shoulders as unsafe for pedestrians before the project, so pedestrians have a much greater level of comfort with the new design. And bicyclists are more comfortable because of the new bicycle lanes.

Average speed at a mid-block location on Grandview Drive was lowered from over 40 mph (64 kph) to 32 mph (52 kph). Another study of midday speeds found that the design with the roundabout and pedestrian and bicycle enhancements reduced average speeds by 4.1 mph (6.6 kph) without the support of increased enforcement. Average midday speeds on a parallel roadway that was targeted with heavy enforcement, but did not have any design changes, experienced a reduction of only 0.8 mph (1.3 kph).

ADT on Grandview Drive at Olympic Drive was 6932 in 1994, before the improvements, and 6503 in 2001, after the improvements were completed.

Conclusions and Recommendations

Because the roadway design is much more aesthetically-pleasing, residents now consider Grandview Drive to be the City’s “linear park” as it connects to the undeveloped waterfront.

No official data have been collected, but pedestrian activity has increased along Grandview Drive. According to Steve Sugg of the University Place Public Works Department, “sidewalks brought the people out.”

The project was a complete success as the citizens of University Place have overwhelmingly supported the street improvements and the roundabouts. Further, the Washington State Department of Transportation developed roundabout guidelines and many communities in Washington State built roundabouts after the Grandview Drive project was completed.

Costs and Funding

The first roundabout, at Grandview and Olympic Drives, cost only $20,000 more than the projected cost of the traditional intersection improvement that was initially planned and designed for the intersection.

The entire project cost $6.15 million and was funded and built in three phases. It includes five roundabouts and over three miles (4.8 km) of reconstructed roadway. Funding came from a variety of sources, including City general funds (~$3 million), a low interest loan from a state public works revolving loan fund ($1.8 million), local bonds ($1 million), County funds and donated right-of-way ($320,000), and a contribution from a local gravel business ($50,000).


Ben Yazici
City Manager
City of Sammamish
486 228th Avenue, NE
Sammamish, WA 98074-7222
(425) 898-0660

Steve Sugg
Director of Public Works
City of University Place
3715 Bridgeport Way, West
University Place, WA 98466
(253) 566-5656

Pat O’Neill
City Engineer
City of University Place
3715 Bridgeport Way, West
University Place, WA 98466
(253) 460-2529