Plans are in place to improve travel and safety on State Route 28 between East Wenatchee and Rock Island. 

Three proposals are in place that all put a premium on safety because of the number of serious crashes on the roadway. 

Chelan Douglas Transportation Council Executive Director Jeff Wilkens says the eight-and-a-half-mile stretch presents special challenges. 

"From East Wenatchee to Rock Island there is just a lot of side streets and driveway and park entrance direct access," said Wilkens. "There's just a lot more left turning on and off the highway that happens through there." 

Wilkens says the stretch of road is the worst corridor in the region for crashes. 

One proposal for SR 28 keeps two lane traffic through the area, but adds a center turn lane. 

The speed limit would be reduced to 40 mph and traffic flow would be similar to a major arterial city street such as North Wenatchee Avenue. 

The concept includes a 12-foot-wide bicycle and pedestrian pathway on the south side of the highway, representing an extension of the Apple Capital Loop Trail. In addition, there would be an 8-foot-wide sidewalk on the north side. 

The estimated cost would be $183 million if built within the next six years. 

Another proposal keeps the roadway at two lanes but would have a concrete barrier running down the center to prevent left hand turns. 

Five roundabouts would be added at the intersections at Nile Avenue, Union Avenue, Riverside Place and Rock Island Drive, and near the Hydro Park boat ramp. 

"It's basically tying the whole corridor with a series of five new roundabouts at major intersections," Wilkens said. "And in between those roundabouts, eliminating the left turns." 

The speed limit would be set at 60 mph with slowdowns occurring at the roundabouts. 

It would cost about $140 million to build 

A third proposal expands on the previous one by adding one lane both ways to four lane the highway. 

The estimated cost, which would include the five previously mentioned roundabouts, would be $258 million. Travel time would also be reduced in the corridor by a couple of minutes. 

Wilkens says the Chelan Douglas Transportation Council Board instructed staff to drop the proposal that reduces the speed to 40mph and combine the other two into a final proposal. 

It would start with the two-lane option with the center barrier and roundabouts. Once that step was complete, the roadway would be widened to four lanes. 

The Board will likely make a final decision on how to move forward with the project by the end of the year. 

Wilkens says road construction costs have risen sharply in recent years, noting a recent presentation from a national group to a state legislative committee pegged cost increases at 54 percent since 2021. 

A study financed by the Chelan Douglas Regional Port Authority allowed the transportation council to develop a cost estimate for widening SR 28 and SR 281 to four lanes between East Wenatchee to I-90. The price tag totaled $800 million. 

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