Safely navigating an overcrowded and often dangerous roadway any time of day is daunting, but imagine you are a student rushing to school on a foggy morning on a roadway without sidewalks flanked by a constant stream of traffic. This scene has played out daily on the streets that are now included in the Mullen Corridor Improvements Project, which is set to launch on December 9, 2019, and continue for two years.

Olympia Federal Savings LogoWhile both pedestrians and drivers will soon be heeding Road Construction Ahead signs, this route will suffer growing pains as the construction progresses; however, at project’s end, the improvements will make the inconvenience well worth it.

The Mullen Road Corridor Improvements Project encompasses Lacey City Limits to Carpenter Road on a mile-long stretch located between Timberline High School and Carpenter Road. Nearly 12,000 vehicles use this road daily in addition to bicyclists and pedestrians. On weekday mornings, many of the 2,725 students who attend Timberline High, and Lakes and Woodland Elementary Schools walk along this route. School buses transporting other students to these schools may pass an occasional city bus and could be stopped by emergency vehicles entering Mullen Road from Lacey Fire District 3, Station 33.  On the corner of Mullen and Carpenter Road SE drivers often have difficulty exiting the wrap around parking lot at the Interlake Convenience Store on to Mullen.

Mullen Road Project
Thurston County Civil Engineer Brian Meier discusses details about the Mullen Road Improvement Project with area residents during an October 9, 2019 open house held at Timberline High School. Photo courtesy: Thurston County Public Works

The project is an answer to the safety concerns posed by residents and commuters who frequent this area. It will improve pedestrian and driver safety by widening the road with dedicated bicycle lanes, sidewalks, lighting and crosswalks. In addition, the new roundabout at Mullen and Carpenter and the addition of a left turn lane onto Mullen Road at Glen Terra Drive will lessen the current congestion and drive times.

Once completed, the project will connect county and City of Lacey road enhancements and accommodate future traffic demands. To lessen environmental impacts, a box culvert for a stream under Mullen Road will be built to improve flow and fish passage to nearby Pattison Lake.

Mullen Road Construction
The convenience store parking lot on the corner of Mullen and Ruddell currently has awkward entrances and exits on both roads. Photo credit: Lynn West

As this project was being designed, it was essential to invite the community into it by holding an Open House, which was held in the Timberline High School Commons on Wednesday, October 9, from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Brian Mieir (Project Manager), April Leigh (Education and Outreach Coordinator 11 for Thurston County Public Works) and members of the construction team explained the project details: funding, construction, time lines, traffic impacts, and especially the project benefits. For those who could not attend the open house, a short video demonstrates the rationale for the project.

The project is projected to cost $11 million with $2.5 million from the City of Lacey, $4.6 million from state grants, $2.8 million from federal grants and $1.1 million from Thurston County.

Mullen Road
Students heading to school along Mullen Road on a spring morning. Photo courtesy: Thurston County Public Works

During construction, drivers should expect delays due to single lane road closures during working hours on weekdays during the two years of the project. Night work is not possible because the noise would impact the many residents who live near the road. For daily updates on the project during construction, follow Thurston County Public Works on Twitter @Thurston PW or visit the Travel Impacts page on the Thurston county website.

In the fall of 2021, travel along the Mullen Road corridor will not have increased speed limits, but the flow of traffic should be smoother and much safer for drivers, bicyclists and pedestrians. All the waiting for one lane traffic stops during construction will soon be forgotten.

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