Road Improvements: Hipkins Road

The City of Lakewood is doing road improvements on Hipkins Road. This work ties into improvements made earlier in 2023 to Angle Lane and Elwood Drive. Improvements include adding sidewalks, curbs and gutters and streetlights. A roundabout will go in at the North Way and Hipkins intersection. A second roundabout at the Elwood/Dresden/87th intersection was installed during the summer of 2023.

Construction Notices

Hipkins Road between Steilacoom Boulevard and Angle Lane closed to traffic Dec. 11, 2023. If coming from the south, the detour route runs vehicles from 104th Street SW up the section of Hipkins Road that is still open, to Angle Lane SW, up Eldwood Drive SW, around the roundabout to 87th Avenue SW and out to Steilacoom Boulevard SW.

The closure is in place so that a new water main can be installed. Road closures will occur in segments to allow the city’s contractor to complete work faster without traffic impacts. Local access will be granted to people who live along the closed road.

Project details

A new water main is being installed underground. The chicanes are being removed and sidewalks, curb, gutter, new asphalt and streetlights will be installed. A new roundabout will go in at the North Way and Hipkins intersection.

The improvements will tie into the pedestrian and street improvements completed in July 2023 on Angle Lane and Elwood Drive.

Phase one of construction is anticipated to last until early spring of 2024. During construction, the road will be closed in segments and open to local, resident access only. The second phase of construction is expected to begin late spring and will finish early summer.

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Project area

The project area includes:

  • Hipkins Lane

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December 2023 work begins

A map showing the road closure on Hipkins Road SW and the detour route
Hipkins Road SW closed Dec. 11, 2023 between Angle Lane and Steilacoom Boulevard.

Hipkins Road closed to through traffic Monday, Dec. 11, 2023. The City’s contractor will begin work to replace the old water main underground and update the stormwater infrastructure. Local access will be granted to residents who live on Hipkins Road in the impacted area. A detour is set up and routes people around the closure. The detour takes people from 104th Street SW up the section of Hipkins Road that remains open, to Angle Lane, up Elwood Drive SW, around the roundabout and onto 87th Avenue SW and out to Steilacoom Boulevard.

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Common Questions

  • What traffic calming measures has the design group investigated for incorporation on Hipkins, Angle, and Elwood?
    • The City will utilize a mixed bag of traffic calming strategies based on the location of the street and its traffic volume. For Hipkins, a roundabout at North Way (halfway between Steilacoom and 104th) is planned. For Angle and Elwood, raised crosswalks are planned.

      During the initial design stage, concepts such as additional roundabouts, raised crosswalk speed tables, and sharper chicanes were discussed and heavily considered. Additional roundabouts would require significant right-of-way acquisition and potential condemnation of a single-family residence at each location. We chose North Way because it is a cross intersection and we use the right of way from the existing cross street to our benefit. North Way will still require corner property acquisitions which are currently in progress.

      The City has never purchased a home for the construction of a roadway. It’s not an easy process, extremely expensive, and would delay the project years. Raised crosswalks (speed bumps for roadways, as we can’t install speed bumps like they have in parking lots) are not typically installed and per FHWA guidance should not be installed on arterial streets, particularly with the volume of Hipkins. Additionally, sharper chicanes would have a slowing effect, but if they are installed to the degree to have success, conflicting movements in opposing directions with larger vehicles will occur. While they have been endorsed by the design guidelines, they are not popular and with the radii required to remove conflicting movements, they aren’t terribly effective as evidenced by what exists out there today.

  • Am I getting a cluster mailbox?
    • Section 12.19 of the Lakewood Municipal Code requires cluster mailboxes be installed where existing mailboxes are required to be removed and replaced on Public Works projects. For this project, the only mailboxes that are being relocated are along Hipkins Road. 53 parcels will be switched to cluster mailboxes. If you live on Hipkins Road and are curious if you are within the switch limits, please contact the project manager Troy Pokswinski (253 983-7729) to discuss.

  • How did the city plan for this and other road projects?
    • In an ideal world, we would be constructing a new road where vehicles weren’t already traveling, funding would already be in the bank, all property required to construct the improvements already acquired, permits approved, utilities would be relocated, and designs and specifications complete and ready for bid. If one of the dream scenarios above boxes isn’t resolved, construction cannot proceed.

      When preliminary design initiates, an estimated schedule is developed to establish the construction window for each project. This is done so that utility companies can schedule their work associated with the project and so that we can coordinate traffic control impacts internally and externally. For this project, the City is developing staging plans, detour routes, and traffic control measures that are compatible with projects currently under construction (Washington Blvd.), as well as projects in the vicinity that will be under construction within the next year (Steilacoom Blvd. – 87th to Weller and the improvements inside Ft. Steilacoom Park).

      Events like traffic accidents, water main breaks, or trees falling on utility lines on our detour routes happen. The City does have a plan for contingent cases on our detour routes in the event of these emergencies. While traffic impacts from construction on Hipkins (currently carrying 10,000 vehicles per day), Steilacoom (up to 40,000) and Washington (25,000) will be felt, the City’s strategy to keep traffic moving through the corridors while upgrading these roads keeps the day to day commute above undesired levels of service. That strategy starts with completing Washington Blvd before starting construction on Hipkins. Your continued patience is appreciated.