Royle Road opens following first phase of reconstruction


The months of headaches from road closures on South Royle Road are over after the first of three phases was completed to bring the road to a condition that is better able to handle nearby growth.

The last stretch of asphalt along the current project on Royle Road was laid at the end of March, just before schools let out for spring break, according to Ridgefield Public Works Director Chuck Green. In the subsequent weeks, the finishing touches were put on the project, which came close to the April 22 completion date that was initially estimated by the city earlier this year.

The completed work included the construction of a roundabout at Royle Road’s intersection with South 15th Street and South Wells Drive as well as the addition of a center median with turn lanes, bike lanes, sidewalks and the installation of a street light. It’s the first phase in a three-part reconstruction of Royle Road, which will see improvements across the street from its southern end at Hillhurst Road up to South Third Way.

The first phase had its share of hiccups. In January, Ridgefield City Manager Steve Stuart delivered a message on the city’s website to address the prolonged road closures that residents experienced throughout the project.

Coordinating utility providers and the city’s approach to plan for the improvements led to a less-than-optimal process. Green said the first phase provided a number of lessons for the subsequent work on the road.

“We’re applying those lessons learned to make sure we have much fewer traffic impacts than we had in this phase,” Green said.

One of the biggest challenges was relocating utility lines while widening the street, he said. For the next phase, none of the road widening will occur until the utilities are set in their shared trench.

That approach is the first of a three-part staging plan for construction, Green said. Having that plan in place is intended to avoid the severity of closures experienced during the latest round of  work.

Following the placement of utilities, work on the road will happen on one side before it’s moved to the other, Green said.

With the first construction phase complete, the next phase will feature improvements on the north side of South 15th Street to the south of South Third Way. That phase is set to go out to bid for contractors in June, Green said, with the relocation of utility lines starting this summer.

When the utilities are moved, the first side of the road will begin its reconstruction next spring, Green said.

The last phase of the project will improve Royle Road from South 19th Street to Hillhurst Road. Green said the city will look at grant funding opportunities for that phase next year.

He noted the area around the existing roadway on the southern portion of Royle Road presents a challenge for how those improvements will be made.

“We might want to look at some innovative construction methods,” Green said.

Though it presents a unique challenge, the southern phase is also on the least-traveled sections of Royle Road, Green noted.

Ridgefield’s west side only has three roads covering the distance of the city: Pioneer Street, Hillhurst Road and Royle Road.

“There’s not a lot of alternatives when we have to go under construction on one of them,” Green said. “If we need to close it, that really affects traffic on the other two, but it also affects the neighborhood streets around it.”

When the multi-phased project is complete, Royle Road will be able to handle decades of growth, Green said.

“We are building 20-plus years of capacity into these roads so that we don’t have to come back and do this again,” Green said.