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

The Chelan Douglas Transportation Council has been looking at a plan to install five roundabouts and a center barrier along with eventually widening the highway to four lanes. 

Senior Transportation Planner Riley Shewak says they're now downsizing the project to three roundabouts to bring down costs. 

"We think we can accomplish a lot of safety benefits at the worst locations, intersections along the corridor with some roundabouts and other access control," said Shewak. 

A major reason for the near-term downsizing is the sharp rise in road construction costs in recent years. A presentation from a national group to a state legislative committee in late 2023 pegged cost increases at 54 percent since 2021. 

The new plan will reduce the cost of safety upgrades on SR 28 from $166 million to $21 million. 

The eight-and-a-half-mile stretch of roadway is among the worst corridors in the region for crashes.  

“In terms of collisions per 100 million vehicle miles traveled, yes, it is in the top three to five of state highways,” Shewak said. 

One of the three roundabouts would be at Kirby Billingsley Hydro Park two miles south of East Wenatchee on Highway 28. Another one would be near Nile Ave. while the third roundabout would be in the vicinity of Rock Island Drive in Rock Island. 

The roundabouts would serve the safety purpose of preventing left hand turns in front of oncoming traffic. Drivers would make a U-turn in the roundabout and circle around to make a right hand turn into their desired destination. 

The long-term plan for SR 28 through the corridor is to widen the highway to four lanes. Plans to install the center barrier have been moved back to coincide with the widening project. 

Data on traffic levels show the roadway won’t need to be widened until 2050. 

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