The County is in the process of improving 22 unincorporated area roadways by:
- constructing pavement repair,
- installing high friction surface treatment (HFST), and
- installing guardrail
Contractor crews are currently working on the guardrail installation portion of this process in various locations around the county. Locations to receive guardrail treatment include:
- NE Tolt River Road
- NE Paradise Lake Road
- SE 127th Street
- 437th Ave SE east of Cedar Falls Way
Maps showing these locations are available here.
Frequently-asked questions about guardrail installation
Why is King County installing guardrail in these areas?
Safety is our primary goal for county roads. Every three years, King County evaluates all roadways in unincorporated areas for collision frequency and patterns, and seeks ways to lower the rate and severity of collisions like run off the road collisions. Studies show about 90% of the accidents occur within ten feet of the pavement edge, and in Washington between 2009-2011, 39% of fatal and serious injury run-off-the-road collisions occurred on county roads. Many of the locations chosen for guardrail installation have a high rate of reported collisions, including collisions where vehicles have left the roadway. King County also considers roadway characteristics such as roadway width, shoulder and steepness of slopes. After studying other barrier options, county engineers have determined that guardrail is the safest, most appropriate, most effective and cost efficient barrier for these locations.
What is the purpose of guardrail?
Guardrail is designed to absorb the impact of a vehicular collision and at the same time prevent the vehicle from traveling into a roadside hazard like trees or down a steep embankment.
Where can I get collision information for these locations?
All traffic crash and collision data is reported and housed at the Transportation Data, GIS & Modeling Office and is the source for the most complete and up-to-date information regarding any location in Washington State. It is the source King County uses for crash and collision information. Data requests can be made to the Transportation Data, GIS & Modeling Office for any intersection here.
Who is funding the guardrail installation work?
The work is being funded by a federal Highway Safety Improvement Program (HSIP) grant.
Who reviews the design?
Since this project is grant funded, its design has been reviewed by the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) on behalf of the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). The project was approved by WSDOT before it could go to construction.
How long can I expect traffic disruptions at any of these locations during guardrail installation?
The work duration is short, 1 to 2 days, and will be completed within existing road right-of-way.
Why isn't King County installing timber rail guardrail systems?
Timber rail that has been crash-tested has only been installed in one location in Washington State--on a state highway. It has never been used on a King County roadway. The material is difficult to maintain. An even greater challenge with timber rail is modifying the leading and trailing ends of the system so that they have a crashworthy end terminal that can be struck by a car and still perform safely for the driver and occupants.
Will the equestrian trail at SE 127th Street be impacted?
The equestrian trail will remain open and clear from the new guardrail installation. Access to the trail will not be affected by the guardrail. The guardrail that is being installed nearby will stop and flare away from the travel lane a short distance west of where the trail leaves SE 127th Street. The new guardrail will also preserve the use of the existing shoulder, which was regraded and improved recently in preparation for the new guardrail system.
Why isn’t May Valley Road getting additional guardrail?
During the mid-1990’s, SE May Valley Road received safety funds that were directed toward the installation of barrier systems. These systems are still in use today. As a result, SE May Valley Road is no longer a candidate for new guardrail.
How has King County reached out to community members to notify them about this project?
Beginning in 2015, the county began reaching out to residents at community area and council meetings to inform affected communities of the upcoming plans for construction. Twenty-eight different maps showing the guardrail and high friction surface treatment locations were circulated at these meetings and posted to the county's 2014 Safety High Friction Surface Treatments webpage. Local news outlets have reported on the project. The county also uses Twitter at @kcroads to provide project updates and relevant links.
How can I be notified when guardrail construction that will impact the roadway will begin?
King County Road Alert is an email and text alert service for travelers on roads in unincorporated King County. Subscribers get emails and text messages about unincorporated King County road construction projects, significant weather-related road closures and natural disasters. If you would like to sign up for Road Alerts, you can do so here.