New Bellevue roundabout causes confusion

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Commuters were stuck in traffic Thursday evening after a public transit bus got stuck in a new roundabout in Bellevue.

The chaos made the rounds on social media.

Ed Vaughn was just blocks from his home when traffic hit a standstill.

“I was on this main street coming this way and it was hung up – he just had to drive over that thing,” said Vaughn.

The new roundabout at Sawyer Brown Road and Todd Preis Drive is a first for Bellevue, replacing a four-way stop to keep traffic moving.

But in just weeks, there were not only one, but two large vehicles that got stuck while trying to go through.

“It was an unfortunate circumstance,” said Chip Knauf, Chief Traffic Engineer for Metro Public Works. “Still under construction, so to speak. But in their defense, in the driver’s defense, they weren’t able to do what they were supposed to.”

The way the roundabout is designed is for large buses and fire trucks to drive over the roundabout’s middle circle.

But in the case of Thursday’s bus that got stuck, there were barriers and barrels up for construction, so the driver of the bus followed the roundabout lanes and got stuck.

“It’s kind of our fault that the barricades were still in place even down though the roundabout was open and so they’ve been removed today,” said Knauf.

Some residents said the design of the roundabout seems just too small.

“Running over the curbs plain and simple – I don’t know. It’s not helping traffic flow,” said Barry Causes, nearby resident.

Some residents said the design of the roundabout seems just too small.

“Running over the curbs plain and simple, so I don’t know it’s not helping traffic flow,” said Causes.

“It met the needs of the diameter for the traffic we have out there,” said Knauf.

When News 2 asked if said the design is supposed to work for large vehicles, Knauf said “Correct, and if it’s not working, let us know because we can redesign it.”

Others said a traffic light would’ve been a better alternative.

“People here don’t know about roundabouts,” said Vaughn.

Knauf reassures as Public Works prioritizes communication with contractor crews, time may do the trick.

Staci Spivak owns River Arts Studio in the plaza across the roundabout.

“Unfortunately, there’s a bit of a learning curve, but once everybody gets used to it I think it will be fine,” said Spivak.

WeGo Public Transit, which operates the buses, tells News 2, the accordian buses are supposed to detour around the roundabout for the foreseeable future and that this detour will not take any bus stops out of service.

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