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Originally published Sunday, November 18, 2007 at 12:00 AM

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Safety improvements completed at Four Corners

After 14 months of construction, one of the most dangerous intersections in the Maple Valley area, Kent Kangley Road at Highway 169, has...

Special to The Seattle Times

After 14 months of construction, one of the most dangerous intersections in the Maple Valley area, Kent Kangley Road at Highway 169, has become much safer for drivers and pedestrians.

From 2003 through 2005, 113 accidents occurred within about a mile of the intersection, known as Four Corners, said Nick Afzali, Maple Valley public works director.

Many of the crashes were either rear-end collisions or cars hit by turning tractor-trailers, police said.

But the number of wrecks has dropped dramatically since the project started, Maple Valley Police Chief Michelle Bennett said.

The $13 million project, which finished three months early at the beginning of November, included the addition of a regular lane and right- and left-turn lanes, a traffic light, bike lanes and a new intersection at Southeast 264th Street and Highway 169.

Workers also added sidewalks and a crosswalk for improved access to the Cedar River Trail and added landscaped medians.

The city and transportation grants each contributed about $4 million to the project. The Transportation Partnership Account, which gets money from the 9.5 cent gas tax approved by the state legislator in 2005, paid for $2.5 million. The rest of the funding came from federal, state and county sources.

In addition to making the intersection safer, the project creates better access to nearby businesses, city officials say.

But J. Johnson, who owns multiple businesses around the intersection, feels the construction has had the opposite effect because the medians prevent customers from turning left to get to businesses.

"I have never had so many complaints about getting in to our corner," Johnson said.

Drivers can make legal U-turns, but Johnson said many aren't aware of that.

"We'll see what time will do, whether people will choose to change their shopping habits or change their driving habits," Johnson said.

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The Four Corners project is the first of five sections along Highway 169 to be worked on.

The next section scheduled for improvement is from Southeast 251st to Southeast 264th streets. It is expected to cost about $11 million.

The city has hired a design consultant and is looking at funding options for the project.

Work was recently completed on the intersection of Highway 169 and Southeast 288th Street, south of Maple Valley, where the state Department of Transportation installed turn lanes.

The $2.5 million project also included the addition of street lights and updated drainage to help control water runoff.

Jordan Dawson: 253-234-8601 or jdawson@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company

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